Saturday, August 06, 2005

Inquiring Minds

I'm about to solve all the problems of the world in a single blog. Or, at least, I will start to make sense of some of mine, and hopefully those of a few others, as well.

I've been trying to figure out for ages how to 'create' the professional environment that I want to work in. I have a few 'strategies' that I am working away at, but it's not easy. I have often felt frustrated by the way that I can experience a few wonderful, fulfilling professional relationships and still not feel like that is enough, because I want everyone to experience these kinds of relationships.

Driving home from MU yesterday, I figured out what the 'common denominator' is in the fulfilling professional relationships I have, and the mysterious absence in all the other collegial relationships that I want to develop further. Are you ready for this? It's a real doozy... The answer is:

A shared love of inquiry

That's it! Saw open everyone's skulls and pour in a splash of inquiry, and the world would suddenly be a better place.

I've come up with a list of factors that are particular to these 'relationships of inquiry', based on my relationship with my year 12 partner:

1. A willingness to listen,
2. The confidence to admit one's own weaknesses and gaps in knowledge,
3. A willingness to share your ideas and understandings
4. Having confidence in the other member(s) to question and think critically about what you have to offer,
5. A willingness to question and be critical of your own practices,
6. Having confidence in each other (and giving each other the occasional supportive pat on the back)
7. A desire to learn,
8. A desire to learn together,
9. An ongoing collaborative process that you reflect on together from time to time, to see what good things are springing from it, and,
10. TIME to talk with each other.

So, that's my preliminary definition of a relationship of inquiry, collaborative inquiry, or whatever you choose to name it. That's all you need, really. It's not about agreeing about everything, or even necessarily having a similar perspective- my colleague and I certainly don't agree about everything, but we agree about enough things- the shape of our learning processes being at the top of the list. It's only a very rough first draft- I'll probably add to it and refine it over time. I'd be keen to hear what others out there think of it.


Jo McLeay said...

Dear nb,
Thank you for your most interesting post. I have linked to it on my blog at

M said...

Announcing....the winner of the Nobel Prize for Educational Understanding...Miss NB!! yaay!! I think you've worked it out, NB. You can retire now, write a book and sell it for millions. But seriously, align your theory of inquiry with SB's theory of conversational learning (my words, not his) and we have the perfect balance. Now we just have to impart this to the masses...and timetablers!