It is also important to note that our concern here is not providing students in school with the freedom to learn what they want when they want, which is a different matter entirely, but rather, it is ensuring that themany years of school – which, as Postman and Weingartner (1971) point out, “is the one institution in our society that is inflicted on everybody, and [so] what happens in school makes a difference – for good or ill” (p. 12) – produce students who, in addition to anything else that they may have been taught, are actually able to learn anything that they want for themselves, should they choose to do so, with someone to help guide them through that. This requires equipping students with, as Papert (1994) put it, the kind of knowledge children most need, which is knowledge that will help them get more knowledge (p. 139). This seems to be a reasonable expectation of school, given our considerable investment of time, money and effort in our children.
Our concern here, then, is with the kind of school environment that will enable this.
For us, this is an inquiry environment, understood both as “a method of instruction and an environment for formalized learning” (Shera, 1972, p. 177).
Papert, Seymour. (1994). The Children’s Machine: Rethinking School in the Age of the Computer. New York, NY: Basic Books.
Postman, Neil, and Charles Weingartner. (1971). Teaching as a Subversive Activity. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.
Shera, Jesse. (1972). Foundations of Education for Librarianship. New York, NY: Wiley-Becker and Hayes.