What does it mean by inquiry based learning. Well it does not only mean that a teacher just allows the students to come up with questions and that’s it.
Inquiry based learning comes up with set of things that can be carried out inside and out of a classroom. To start with there should certainly be a suitable atmosphere within a classroom which provides opportunity for students to be inquisitive while learning. The classroom set up plays a major role in this. The next point is to encourage students to make observations and frame questions and more importantly find the connections /answers in students’ questions and think what is a student grappling over. Another point is to get the students involved into hands-on learning. There could be many more things that can be implemented in an inquiry based learning.
HBCSE has developed curriculum for primary science and it is also being implemented in few schools in Mumbai. I, alongwith Beena, was engaged in classroom observations of these inquiry based leraning classes which are implementing the Small Science Curriculum developed by HBCSE. It was really an interesting experience for me. I was involved in this field work project as part of my graduate course programme.
Today after a long time we both (Beena and myself) discussed about the implementation of the inquiry based learning in schools. Beena asked me to rate this process on a scale of low to medium to high. Well in my opinion I rate it as close to medium. The good news is that it has already begun but it still has to get implemented appropriately in the correct sense of an inquiry based learning. And for such a thing to happen, according to Beena, it is very important that we conduct some teacher training courses/workshops as to how to impart an inquiry based learning in a classroom given the constraints of the school system.
I strongly feel that as it is necessary to take classroom trials with students before formulating the curriculum, it is also very important to impart training for the teachers as to how to conduct an inquiry based learning class. We need to provide with a varied amount of exposure (such as pedagogical methods, scientific knowledge, etc.) for the teachers inorder that they become skilled/trained in this area of teaching.
I think we still have a long way to go.