Note: To protect the privacy of our members, e-mail addresses have been removed from the archived messages. As a result, some links may be broken.
Do you find yourself doing all of the talking when you teach art history,
philosophy, culture or criticism? When you walk through school hallways, do
the voices of the teacher ring out far above the sound of student voices?
The topic of Inquiry Learning addresses this issue. I use a format for
most lessons that is designed to put learning and discussion in the voices
of the students. For example, when introducing new art through a slide or
1. Show the slides in silence. Ask students to jot down observations and
questions. Sometimes I guide this, sometimes asking students to look for
particular aspects ( connections to something previously studied, apparent
purpose, style...) and sometimes leaving responses completely open ended.
Students have time to consider, and to collect thoughts. Additionally,
responses are then right in front of the student to read aloud. If I have a
group of reticent students, I will tell them that this is a graded activity
and that I'll collect responses. This is a good time to practice vocabulary
( monumental vs. big; idealistic vs. pretty.)
2. Show the slide sequence again, inviting students to share responses.
Inevitably, several things happen.
a. students note aspects of the art that I missed or did not consider.
b. almost every aspect of the art is touched in some way (identification,
theme or subject, context, purpose/function/meaning, roles of artists and
viewers, style, mood, technique, materials, process...) This reinforces the
notion that one can use a format when learning about something new: I
record responses on the board by organizing them into the aforementioned
c. students own observations and questions form the basis of the lesson,
and there is usually plenty to talk about.
3. As student responses are generated, I feed specific information, correct
mistaken assumptions, pose more sophisticated questions and reinforce the
value of what has already been said.
Although most of my teaching is based on DBAE, this method was not based on
any particular educational theory. However, t I believe strongly in
self-directed learning. I also got tired of doing all the talking.