I make professional judgements regularly about what is worth learning, teaching and assessing. These judgements are based on prior experiences, the curriculum and my understanding of student needs. Whilst student questions and thoughts guide our inquiries and we adjust as we go, many of these initial decisions are made prior to the learning happening. I sit in planning meetings where we thoughtfully and strategically plan provocations and opportunities for inquiry based on what is worth understanding and knowing. The learning that arises from this is rich, meaningful and purposeful.
But lately I’ve been thinking that maybe the worthiness of an inquiry can also be found almost entirely through the inquiry itself. Maybe something which we, as teachers, wouldn’t place much value on can progress into an inquiry that greatly develops student understandings, skills and dispositions. The worthiness could be found within the questions that arise, the way a student makes decisions about the next steps, the skills (which weren’t originally evident) that are needed, the dispositions that are nurtured and given opportunities to grow. A small seed of a question or a thought or a desire to make, design or build something can organically flourish into a deep, authentic inquiry.
And maybe I’ve been asking myself the wrong question. Instead of asking whether an inquiry is worthwhile, I should be asking: what would make this inquiry worthwhile?