A Commitment to Learning through Inquiry
Inquiry is the foundational approach to teaching and learning in the PYP because it allows students to be actively involved in their own learning and to take responsibility for that learning. Inquiry allows each student’s understanding of the world to develop in a manner and at a rate that is unique to that student.
The intention of the PYP is to support students’ efforts to construct meaning from the world around them by drawing on their prior knowledge, by providing provocation through new experiences, and by providing time and opportunity for reflection. This constructivist philosophical approach respects the students’ developing ideas and understandings of the social and natural world; it continually stimulates students’ revision and refinement of their models of how the world works. Therefore, it is critical that the written curriculum designed by the teachers incorporates a range of learning experiences that acknowledges the diversity of the students’ prior knowledge.
Inquiry is the learning process initiated by the students or the teacher that moves the students from their current level of understanding to a new and deeper level of understanding.
Key descriptors of student inquiry include:
- Exploring, wondering, and questioning
- Experimenting ad playing with possibilities
- Making connections between previous learning and current learning
- Making predictions and acting purposefully to see what happens
- Collecting data and reporting findings
- Clarifying existing ideas and reevaluating perceptions of events
- Deepening understanding through the application of a concept
- Creating and testing theories
- Researching and seeking information
- Taking and defending a position
- Solving problems in a variety of ways.
An explicit expectation of the PYP is that successful inquiry will lead to responsible action initiated by the students as a result of the learning process. This action may extend the students’ learning, or it may have a wider social impact. Both inquiry and action will clearly look different within each age range and from one age range to the next.