Inquiry Myth #9 - Doesn't Prepare Students for the "Real World"

In this series I aim to bust some common myths I often hear in my travels supporting teachers and schools in adopting an Inquiry Mindset for their students. My hope is that we can begin to inform colleagues, parents, and students as to what the reality of inquiry truly is. Please help this movement by sharing these with your PLN.

Here we go with Myth #9!

Inquiry Myth #9 - Inquiry lacks rigour and isn’t challenging for students


  • Inquiry prepares students to take ownership over their learning. Ownership encompasses a wide variety of skills and understandings that will equip students to take on whatever goals they set or challenges they face in their futures.

  • Inquiry has students do the heavy lifting of learning, the tasks within structures and frameworks that push them to reflect,, revise, share, communicate, empathize, and collaborate. These are the skills we want in tomorrow’s citizens.

  • Universities around the world are shifting from the standardized approach to admissions that we’ve seen for decades and moving towards a portfolio and personal statement as part of their application process. Further, they are nurturing learning experiences that are much more constructivist in nature.

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Two things come to mind when I hear this myth in my work.

One, I am not in the business of preparing students for university. My main goal is to help nurture an experience that will allow students to truly know themselves, gain confidence and become engaged citizens of the world who are empathetic, full of wonder, and can attack problems from a variety of angles. University admissions, acceptance, and what the future has in store for each individual student will all fall into place if I indeed accomplish what we set out to.

And two, universities around the world are changing. They are no longer only using SATs, GPAs, and standardized assessment tools to help determine who gains admission into their institution. Increasingly schools are looking at personal statements, portfolios, and a body of work to help paint a picture of the type person applying to their school. In the past year I have heard from several professors that the single thing they wish all first year students understood or demonstrated was “ownership over learning”. Let that soak in. More than academic writing and more than good grades, professors want students who can take ownership over their learning.

It seems to me that inquiry does just that.