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Working with kids on a regular basis, a person is often reminded how much we can learn about learning by just observing what our students are doing. I’ve found this is also true when spending time with my daughter Hattie, a constantly busy 3-year-old who usually only slows down when we bribe her with TV (I know, you can send my Parent of the Year award at anytime).
For instance, the other week while I watched the PBS Cartoon Curious George (along with Hattie) I was blown away as George and his friend Steve demonstrated a perfect example of inquiry-based learning. I’ve upload a copy of the cartoon, take a look (oh come on you deserve a break), go for it just the first 12 minutes:
(If you’re having trouble viewing the clip and not interested in purchasing it from youtube, hang on while I see if I can do a little video magic…coming soon).
If you’re an educator my hope is that you were rooting for Steve and George the whole time. Still, despite all the learning that the two of them gained, they were very apprehensive that Steve wouldn’t receive an A for his learning. This is compounded by the fact that Steve appears to be doing so poorly in school that if he doesn’t get an A on this assignment he’s been told he’ll fail the class.
Of course, Steve’s apprehension is understandable because despite his efforts and enthusiasm he seems more passionate about what he’s learned in regards to modern day conservation and waste water treatment then about ancient Egyptian civilizations. Luckily, Steve’s teacher passes him and he leads his class in a great project to increase environmental awareness in his community.
Don’t you love how things just always work out for George and his friends?
However, I’ve got to wonder whether Steve would have been so lucky to receive the same praise if he went to a school in the real world. Would Steve have passed the 5th grade social studies class in your school? Or would the teacher have been caught up in what Steve didn’t learn about ancient Egypt that he would have failed? Or at the very least only receive partial credit for all of his inquiry. Are your teachers harnessing the power of inquiry to shape their assignments and build student motivation? What are you doing as a leader to ensure that the Steve’s in your school are thriving? Share in the comments below.
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