Teaching for Understanding
“Tell me and I forget, show me and I remember, involve me and I understand.”
Centuries back Confucius, the Chinese teacher, and philosopher made this remarkable statement. The last part of this statement is relevant for us, especially when we deal with students who are less interactive. Inquiry-based teaching, as various studies testify, is the best method that we can follow in such a situation. ‘Inquiry’ means the process of asking questions. Human beings, irrespective of their age, have a natural instinct to use inquiry or ask questions to seek new knowledge or latest information. For example, infants and babies use inquiry to learn about the world, grasp things and identify the familiar faces. In inquiry based teaching the learner is led through the same natural way of learning new things. This enables your student to ask questions about new areas of learning, think or research to answer those questions and comprehend them thoroughly.
Active involvement of the student in the teaching-learning process makes this totally different from the traditional approach to teaching. More opportunities for student engagement can be created when the tutor adopts this student-centred approach. This increases his attention and focus, leads him to higher level critical thinking and assures an effective learning experience. This is actually teaching by asking and not by telling. The traditional way of teaching does not give room for the students to ask questions. It only makes them listen and repeat the expected answers. It is generally focused on the mastery of content, with less emphasis on the development of skills and the nurturing of inquiring attitudes. They memorize facts and information to be reproduced in the coming examination. They are more concerned about the next grade level and in-school success.
Inquiry-based learning is a way of converting data and information into useful knowledge through questions and answers.
A useful application of inquiry based learning involves many different factors, which are, a different level of questions, a focus for questions, a framework for questions, and a context for questions. What we have to do is to reorganize our lesson plans to be appropriate to inquiry based teaching. The worksheets should enable the student to increase his study skills by providing different ways of viewing the world, communicating with it, and successfully introducing new questions and issues of daily life and finding answers to them. Asking questions and finding answers is an extremely important factor of inquiry based learning. But interest alone does not make for effective implementation of inquiry based teaching. Indeed, “learning by doing” has a somewhat checkered track record, in part because tutors often lack the information, support, and tools necessary to fully integrate and support this alternative approach to teaching and learning. Tutors need to be equipped with the knowledge of the benefits of inquiry-based learning, as well as to deepen their understanding of the components of an effective inquiry-based lesson or unit. It provides students with more engaging, thought-provoking learning opportunities, prompts teachers at all grade levels to experiment with incorporating inquiry-based learning into their curriculum Thus, they will also be involved in the process and have a greater understanding of the world they live in.