The origin of thinking is in some perplexity, confusion or doubt - John DeweyOne of the words in our school mission statement is motivate. It's something that is seen as vital in order for students to succeed. Giving students the ownership of their own investigations, allowing them to come up with problems they want to solve in a variety of ways, is one way of motivating and challenging students, making them responsible for their own learning and encouraging their intellectual growth.
In order to solve problems, students need to be able to ask questions and find answers. This process is one that encourages critical thinking - which information is going to help them, which is going to be useful and reliable, which will they need to analyse in order to draw their own conclusions? The best questions are those that are difficult - that motivate the students to be curious and to wonder about the answers and that encourage them to explore further. This sort of inquiry is at the heart of the IB Primary Years Programme.
Our Grade 3s are currently doing a unit of inquiry about exploration. They are discovering that it's possible to explore almost anything. One class recently explored Google Earth, another one explored fractions, but at their heart these explorations involved 3 main things:
Novelty - these were new, the students were exploring them for the first time
Complexity - there were many different elements, many levels at which the students could engage, many questions they could ask
Mystery or uncertainty - things were not immediately clear, there was a lot they didn't know, there were problems they needed to solve.
The PYP suggests schools should encourage curiosity about the nature of learning, about the world, its people and cultures. Students who develop curiosity become inquirers - they actively enjoy learning and this love of learning will be sustained throughout their lives.
Photo credit: Question mark by the Italian voice