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Traditional learning approach Vs. Inquiry learning


Miguel Q. Ibero Jr., MAEd
Busay Elementary School

Most of our schools focus on teaching as set of basic skills that do not serve the needs of modern society. Traditionally, schools stressed the accumulation of information, and did not emphasize skill development or nurturing inquiry-based habits of mind. Our modern society is faster paced, globally networked, technologically oriented, and requires workers who can problem solve and think critically. Today, much learning, if not most, occurs after formal schooling. Our schools must change their approach to education to produce students who can thrive in the modern world.

Inquiry learning can turn information into useful knowledge. It stresses skill development and nurtures the development of good habits of mind. Information, lacking of a useful context, often has limited applications beyond passing a test. Learning plans and teaching materials need to include relevant context for new information leading to broader understandings. It is often hard for students to understand the connections of activities within a particular subject. This confusion is heightened when students struggle to understand the connections between different subjects within traditional schools.

Inquiry approach is more focused on using and learning content as a means to develop information-processing and problem-solving skills. The system is more student- centered, with the teacher as a facilitator of learning. There is more emphasis on “how we come to know” and less on “what we know.” Students are more involved in the construction of knowledge through active involvement. The more interested and engaged the students are by a subject or project, the easier it will be for them to construct in-depth knowledge of it. Learning becomes almost effortless when something fascinates students and reflects their interests and goals.

In general, the traditional approach to learning is focused on mastery of content, with less emphasis on the development of skills and the nurturing of inquiring attitudes. Perhaps a good way to summarize the important difference between traditional learning and inquiry learning is: Traditional learning focuses more on LEARNING ABOUT THINGS, while inquiry learning focuses more on LEARNING THINGS! Another useful way to contrast the two might be: Thinking WHAT as opposed to thinking HOW.

(Excerpt from Eduardo V. Ibanez, PSDS-Labuan)

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