Can’t chuck a u-ey

This is cross-posted in Inquire Within.

Photo credit: wallyir from

I’m really loving inquiry learning. As Edna Sackson has pointed out, I’m on my own inquiry journey. Perhaps because I’m new to it, I find it really is full of surprises – maybe it’ll always be full of surprises by its very nature. This is a positive spin on a journey that is fraught with uncertainties because inquiry is that – keep asking questions though there are no guarantees the line of inquiry will lead to expected destination.

The uncertainties sometimes shout at me like the sign above – “Wrong way, go back“.  My experience with inquiry learning, however, is that once on it, I literally “can’t chuck a u-ey”; the only way is to keep going onward; there is no going back.

This is powerful stuff for me. I am realising that as I learn, I keep moving forward – there is no reverting back. Inquiry as a process is just that – it may branch off to who-knows-where and may seem to lead back to the beginning but the journey itself transforms the traveller.

There is no “wrong way, go back“. There’s still, stop, go, look, listen, turn left, turn right but there is no chuck a u-ey.

Inquiry as a process transforms the learner. In this case, the learner is me, the teacher.

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4 thoughts on “Can’t chuck a u-ey

  1. Kelli says:

    A timely post for my students and I! Today I was teaching ‘driving questions’ as part of the PBL pedagogy. I wondered, and perhaps you can help here: what is the difference between an ‘inquiry question’ and a ‘driving question’? Or is it just that Bie use their own terminology to mean the same thing?? Hmm…

    Is there something specific you are on a journey to find out? I am on two this semester – finding out more about Indigenous education, and reflecting on popular culture and youth text experiences in schools. Soooo transformative, you are right about that!

    • malyn says:

      Thanks for your comment and extending my thinking on this.

      I’m not an expert on either PBL and IL. From what I gather though PBL has a strong inquiry component – see my recent (mini) PBL cum inquiry post. I think inquiry, by its nature, tends to be less defined compared to PBL where products are expected.

      So maybe that’s the difference. PBL is more product-oriented while IL is more process-oriented. Both approaches require process and product but the emphasis differs.

      That aside, I think the important thing is really to promote questioning in the first place, i.e. as a starting point for student ownership of their learning.

      My journey is finding ‘my walk’ – or maybe it’s teaching philosophy…that which informs my choices in designing learning experiences. As I’m new to inquiry, I am also on an inquiry journey itself. I ascribe to diversity in teaching approaches so I doubt that I will ‘stick’ to one but for now, inquiry feels right….and it doesn’t have to be part of a PBL as attempted in this lesson using the Vitruvian Man.

  2. Kelli M says:

    Thanks for this, and for the link to your other post. I think you have hit the nail on the head – projects are more focused on the product, inquiries are more focused on the process. But both approaches always involve a process and a product, of some nature.

    One practice I am finding that runs counter to this is the dictum that I see everywhere on lesson planning guides, that you have to tell students at the start of the lesson what the ‘objectives’ are. I find that this really pulls the focus away from the learning process.

    I do like the idea of telling students at the start of each lesson “what their job will be”, as this can sometimes be as broad as “continue to work on your project”, or “continue to research X”. If the project or inquiry is clear, then each lesson shouldn’t need a different objective all the time, right?

    I want to plan my units now around inquiry phases, or project phases, rather than around packaged out lessons of 50 minutes with a box to tick in each one…!

    • malyn says:

      Thanks for pushing my thinking.

      As a student-teacher and beginning teacher, I found the structure of lesson planning guides helpful. Having the objectives helped me focus, particularly because I hate ‘wasting’ time.


      Over time, I found them less worthwhile as I moved more towards unit-planning. This meant, I had more flexibility in terms of individual lessons…allowing more time for certain things and less for others. This allows for ‘wasting’ time in the inquiry process – an investment into deep thinking and hopefully, deep learning.

      So yes, I agree with “If the project or inquiry is clear, then each lesson shouldn’t need a different objective all the time”.

      I learned this thru experience and via lesson-planning route. I wonder if just telling student-teachers/beginning teachers this would be as effective.

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