Inquiry Teaching

Using Investigation and Discussion to Inquire about Issues in Primary Social Studies

"This article begins with the inquiry teaching approach for primary social studies and the rationale for its inclusion in the 2013 syllabus by the Ministry of Education, Singapore. It compares traditional instruction and inquiry-based teaching and describes the two types of inquiry that can be implemented in the primary classroom – discussion and investigation. Three useful inquiry models for primary children - Colin Marsh’s (2001) investigation model and two discussion models - Diana Hess’ (2009) town meeting model (TMM) and David Johnson and Roger Johnson’s (1999) structured academic model (SAC) - are elaborated. The application of these models is illustrated in two issue-based, inquiry centred packages designed for primary children by student teachers from the National Institute of Education. The article also discusses the challenges teachers may face when implementing such inquiry-centred packages and suggests ways of how they can be overcome. "

Developing Historical Habits of Mind through Inquiry

"Teaching history is not simply about getting students to learn “the right stories” or getting them to absorb transmitted knowledge about the past; it requires teachers to find means to develop students’ historical understanding and to help these students make sense of the knowledge imparted through daily classroom instruction. As many of us already recognize, the knowledge we have about the past is never “given” or “just there” for the taking; the manner in which we come to know what we know about the past requires questioning, imagining, contextualising and (re-)constructing. History education researchers across many national contexts would agree that students need to be taught to understand the nature of historical knowledge – how such knowledge is constructed, how evidence is used to develop interpretations or support claims, how evidence/interpretation is adjudged as valid or credible, etc. "

Leading Classroom Discussions About Population Policy in Singapore

"In January 2013 the Singapore government released a Population White Paper titled A Sustainable Population for a Dynamic Singapore, which proposed a plan to steadily increase the population from roughly 5.3 million in 2012 to 6.9 million by 2030. The primary rationale for the plan was to deal with the declining birth rate and rapidly aging population in Singapore. The white paper generated significant response from Singapore citizens, including protests, such as the event organized on Saturday, 16 February 2013, at Hong Lim Park, where an estimated 5,000 people gathered to express disapproval of the plan. "

Well-being and Humanities Education in Singapore

"In February (2014), I was invited to Nagoya University (Japan) to participate in a symposium on well-being and education in the ASEAN region. Participants from ASEAN nations shared the state of well-being in their nations and considered the role education can play to promote well-being. My participation in this symposium led me to think about well-being in Singapore and the relationship between Humanities education and well-being."

The New Inquiry-based Approach: What It Means for the Teaching and Learning of History in Singapore Schools

"Secondary Humanities teachers in Singapore are well-acquainted with recent developments and changes that accompanied the launch of the new history syllabus in October 2012. A most notable development was the adoption of inquiry-based learning as the recommended pedagogy for instruction. What was the logic for this change? Why was there a need to pursue inquiry-based learning for school history? What was the spirit behind the change? What did the curriculum developers hope to achieve by pushing for an inquiry approach to history learning? Some of these answers can be obtained from the Singapore Ministry of Education syllabus documents, the Teaching and Learning Guides (TLGs), and other related documents. In this commentary, I offer some of my personal thoughts on the matter and I focus on some issues that require addressing if we are serious about proposing an instructional approach that aims to develop students’ disciplinary thinking in history."

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An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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