All children are born curious citizens: They are constantly learning, questioning just about everything. Inquiry is a way to enrich the child’s connection to the world so they grow to become active, engaged and effective citizens.
Our work starts with this premise and encourages children to learn through inquiry, to grow authentically, and in the process, become more self-reliant, engaged, cooperative citizens – critical thinkers and doers. We focus our work in elementary school : often the first community in which the child is expected to be a good citizen.
We work with teachers to support a learner-centered, inquiry based strategy that guides students to see them selves as fully capable human beings amid a community of fully capable human beings. We encourage children to recognize how they may affect positive change in all their communities and to realize how it nurtures them in return.
This is the promise of democracy.
By helping kids cultivate navigation skills as they learn at an early age, they approach critical problems with greater confidence and agility. And when we help the teacher shift her/his role to trusted illuminator, the student is free to become his/her own teacher within the class community. This shift to a learner-centered classroom may ultimately improve the entire school culture. Aren’t the students the most valuable, yet most overlooked, resource in any school?
All of our work embraces an iterative, explorative design process where risks are taken on the path to learning. We believe "Failure is the best teacher: Success is the best reward."
Kid Reporters meets once a week with Inquiring Minds, in a classroom, afterschool. These 5th grade form a team and decide on issues or topics they want to communicate in the school newsletter. Together they use a portable Learning Wall to help figure out the plan and who’s doing what, when. Kids are photographers, editors, writers, illustrators. The kids vote on how to proceed. In general no adults have a say but are there to gently facilitate cooperative, collaborative, creative thinking and doing. This activity is an important civic engagement that not only helps the children mature and expand their thinking but helps the whole school see that kids have good ideas too!
We find upper elementary school students often feel they have a legacy to leave their school better off for the 'littler kids'. Helping kids improve the school brings out the best in children – and adults. It helps cultivate a growth mindset.
Kids' Council is another Inquiring Minds' innovation originally developed to be able to hear from all students in the classroom. It evolved to students creating a representative democracy in a 4th/5th grade afterschool program that circles back to the classroom during morning meeting.
Looking for something? With the cooperation of exceptional elementary public and private school educators and parents we have been graciously welcomed into schools and classrooms to help meet the challenges they and their students face firsthand. It's this extended access that has allowed us to innovate to help kids evolve their critical thinking and doing minds: To become cooperators, iterative strategists equipped with the skills they need to succeed and to help their communities thrive.