Self organised learning - the soul of inquiry on a small yet boarder scale?
The movement was spurred by Sugata Mitra's 'Hole in the wall' experiment, publicised by his TED talk, where a group of kids from a Delhi slum figured out how to navigate the Internet in English simply by playing with a computer for a few days. The article goes on to relate the SOLE learning replicated in Cleveland, and the benefits inner city kids have experienced.
Many teachers in New Zealand would be doing similar without the buzz word attached.
The idea of doing short investigations on a daily basis is a different take on how inquiry is often run. The benefit of building up questioning, discussion and research skills through repeating the process often is something that gets left out when you do one or two research projects a term. When they are larger projects it can be a real difficulty getting a class of even intermediate age students to come up with questions, research, categorise and utilise information from the internet - avoiding plagiarism and actually encouraging thought and understanding.
“Over time you actually hone in on the art of asking questions,” Jeffery McClellan, SOLE promoter said. “Kids become much more inquisitive, they start to own their own learning. And it’s a great way to show kids that the teacher doesn’t hold all the answers. Ultimately it’s up to individuals to find answers to life’s questions."
“The SOLEs have really worked out well when they are value questions or questions that students can have opposing answers to. ” said principal Feowyn MacKinnon, MC2 STEM High School in Cleveland.
“Seeing them take charge has really showed us that maybe we are being a little too rigid and structured, and not trusting our students enough,” Betchel said. There are still traditional elements in other parts of the day but she wonders if students are actually being held back by these structures. One 6 year old asked, “Could we hear if our ears were square?” His class did a SOLE to find out more about the physics and biology of hearing. It makes you think what couldn't be covered through SOLE?