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According to Nancy Cecil in The Art of Inquiry, real learning begins to take place when children are engaged in asking and answering carefully crafted questions. Inquiry gives them an "opportunity to explore with their minds, to gain meaning for themselves, and to relate new data to old ideas. When children seek to ask or answer questions about things for which there are many potentially correct answers they begin to develop an attitude of appreciation for the immensity and complexity of the natural world."

The Key Concepts

The key concepts, expressed as questions, propel the process of inquiry. They are broad in scope and are intended to define clusters of ideas. These powerful ideas drive the research units-called Units of Inquiry -which are designed by teachers and students and lie at the heart of the curriculum model.

These key concepts are:

  • Form: What is it like?

  • Function: How does it work?

  • Causation: Why is it like it is?

  • Change: How is it changing?

  • Connection: How is it connected to other things?

  • Perspective: What are the points of view?

  • Responsibility: What is our responsibility?

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