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Friday, November 18, 2005

Inquiry & Inspiration

Most of my sessions thus far have revolved around the subject of teacher inquiry. It seems to me that so often when teachers hear "research" or even its friendlier synonym "inquiry," we freak out. Sounds like work. And work is, well, work. But...
"Research is a high-hat word that scares a lot of people. It needn't. It's rather simple. Essentially research is nothing but a state of mind...a friendly, welcoming attitude toward change...going out to look for change instead of waiting for it to come. Research is an efffort to do things better and not to be caught asleep at the switch. It is the problem-solving mind as contrasted with the let-well-enough-alone mind. It is the tomorrow mind instead of the yesterday mind." --Charles Kettering
Well put, Mr. Kettering. So why are so many of us scared of research when it's something that any active and reflective (and if you're here right now, you are) teacher already does? Every day?

Here's one very solid reason for engaging in teacher inquiry. Teacher research can cause change. We teachers are exceptionally guilty of complaining about political and public mandates on our jobs without actively influencing those same policy makers. But if we have our own research to pull from, WE become the experts, and WE can influence policy. Want to change test culture? Gather evidence from your own students showing the damaging effects of constant testing. It's an empowering and inspirational notion.

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