In her keynote speech at the 2016 IB Asia Pacific Conference in Hyderabad, Linda Lantieri explained that a disposition is a way of approaching life that is unique to a particular person. She used the example of kindness. If a person is consistently kind to others they become known for their kindness. This kindness impacts how they view others and navigate their way through life leaving footprints of kindness in their wake. Kindness is their way of thinking. Kindness is their way of seeing. Kindness is their way of doing. They are kind. Kindness has become their disposition.
This simple explanation of a disposition got me thinking about our role as inquiry-based teachers. After reflecting on my own developing practice and the journey our College has travelled in implementing the IB Middle Years Programme, I have come to the understanding that an inquiry-based teaching approach is in actual fact a disposition. It is a way of thinking. It is a way of seeing. It is a way of acting.
As inquiry-based teachers we are provided with an opportunity to view each child in our classrooms not as vessels to be filled with the knowledge and skills of our discipline, but as an active inquirer who we can equip with the skills to seek knowledge and then to know just how to apply knowledge and skills within multiple global contexts. This is the approach we take within our classrooms. We view our students as highly capable learners in their own unique way who can achieve great accomplishments as a result of their learning.
As inquiry-based teachers we design our classroom environments with multiple opportunities for students to be involved in a variety of learning experiences in order to construct new knowledge and ensure they make their learning meaningful to themselves and their peers. We design learning experiences where our students experiment, solve problems, explore, create, collaborate and understand the “why” of what they are learning.
An Inquiry-based approach to teaching and learning is a pedagogical approach that begins with us, as John Hattie says, ‘seeing learning through the eyes of the student.’ (Visible Learning, John Hattie, 2013) This requires a disposition. A way of thinking. A way of seeing. A way of acting.
The wonderful thing about a disposition is that it can be learned. We can all agree that our education systems need to rapidly evolve in order to prepare our students for the rapidly advancing and globally connected world we live in. In order to fully prepare our students we must equip them with the tools to ask the right questions, become seekers of knowledge and develop the skills to apply this knowledge in order to develop solutions, or become ‘solutionaries’ as Marc Prensky coined in his keynote address, Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century.
With this challenge as teachers we can be open-minded towards the needs of our students and the world they engage in. We can take risks and develop vibrant and engaging classroom environments where our students are truly at the centre of all learning. And we can deepen our care for our students by seeing learning through their eyes.
Just as the person who learns and practices kindness so it becomes their disposition, we as teachers can learn and practice inquiry-based pedagogies so we become inquiry-based learners alongside our students. Our view can be broadened and our practice deepened so our disposition towards student learning is that of inquiry-based teaching and learning where we ‘see learning through the eyes of our students.’
Inquiry-based teaching and learning can become our way of thinking. Our way of seeing. Our way of acting. Our disposition.