Genuine Enquiry

Tom Barrett has just published a book called ‘Can Computers Keep Secrets?’ It is really accessible and really unpacks what it means to keep creativity and curiosity alive in children and dare I say it…adults.  This book really gets to grips with an essential element of all teaching and I would argue RE especially. At the heart of good education should be genuine enquiry. The old adage you can take a horse to water but you can’t make it drink really has no place in modern education, regularly we are told that you can take a horse to water and make it want to drink! Enquiry is the tool to enable this to happen.

I recently explored this with a unit of work on Hinduism with a group of year 8 students. Resources were really simple, 8 A3 images taken from aspects of Hindu life and belief. Big, dynamic, intriguing pictures plus a sheet for each student to ask their questions and suggest possibilities. Rotation in their groups of four around the eight stations in the classroom generated genuine questions. For example “Why are they throwing so much paint around?” “Why on earth is there a swastika linked to Hinduism isn’t that a Nazi emblem?” followed by expressions of engagement, “that looks fun”, “I’d love to go there”.

Following on from this the teams set to work on a text book creation task, thinking about levels of the material they were producing, the way they could make their work engaging for others. Importantly the students were choosing the chapters for their book based on the questions that most intrigued them. I had chosen pictures that fitted with the Hindu unit of work, so no worries there, they just took control and returned to their natural curiosity. As Tom mentions in his book the “fuzzy goal” served the creative purpose well and the learning spiked.

I am now thinking about how, in every lesson, I can increase the proportion of opportunity  for genuine enquiry for my students.


About Learning to Teach Lorraine Abbott

Deputy Headteacher in a Surrey School Author for Hodder Education
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