Genuine versus pseudo-inquiry
The concept of inquiry lies at the heart of current discussions of professional learning for prospective and practicing teachers alike. Enquiry enables educators to identify, question, challenge, and ultimately, revise and modify the assumptions and beliefs that support their pedagogical practices and drive their decisions about teaching and learning.
In the interpersonal learning context represented by Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), the espousing and sharing of theories and beliefs can motivate individuals to examine their own assumptions and extend the possibilities for positive transformation (Byrne-Jimenez and Orr, 2007). However, the potential capacity of PLCs to effect significant educational change is dependent on their members engaging in truly genuine enquiry and being willing and open to learn. According to Timperley et al. (2020), “Genuine inquiry asks educator to seek new insights into what is happening for learners, how the professionals may be contributing to the challenges identified, to experiment with possible innovative solutions and evaluate their impact” (p. 31). It is important to note, though, that engaging in genuine enquiry within a PLC (and within any other collective endeavour, for that matter) i) is a rather complex, demanding and challenging task and ii) requires distinguishing it from surface-level, ‘pseudo-enquiry’ (Le Fevre et al., 2015).
Read: Genuine versus pseudo inquiry?
Takes notes: What distinguishes genuine inquiry from pseudo inquiry, and why is genuine inquiry important for learning?
What to practice: The aim is to listen genuinely and to be open to learning especially when there are different views and perspectives among the group members. To be genuine curious means to not asking a question you have the answer to, by practicing to either make a statement or ask a genuine question. (Stone et al., (2010, p. 174) says: “…if you don’t really have a question, then don’t ask a question”.
- Always treat your own assumptions as hypothesis – and that that other may see things that you do not
- Don’t begin questions with wouldn’t, couldn’t, didn’t, isn’t (that usually indicate that you already have the answer)
- If it’s the desire to make a point – don’t hide it in a question – disclose it!
- Avoid words that can be interpreted as judgmental
- Focus on listening, and to be genuinely interested to learn from others
Pre-session (10 minutes)
- Discuss how a desire to learn and an open-minded stance are two defining characteristics of genuine inquiry.
- Share with each other how you will practice being open-minded and genuinely curious (model 2 thinking), but still open for testing own and others assumptions in the meeting (contribute to double loop learning).
- Choose one observer who will focus on the communication in the meeting and try to disclose whether there are genuine or pseudo inquiries going on, and how by being curious manage to identify, describe and interpret information.
Implementation of today’s PLC meeting
Post-session (15 minutes)
- Each participants uses 5 minutes to think back on how they managed to practice their tasks in the meeting, while the observer tries to sum up and think of some evidence to use to back up the observation. Then the observes present the main communication patterns of the meeting, is the focus on inquiry and learning.
- The group decides whether to work on the module for once more meeting or not.