Questioning, wondering and cupcakes

‘The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing’ Albert Einstein

How to cure infection? Why does an object fall to the ground? How does flight work? What is sound? Alexander Fleming, Albert Einstein, The Wright Brothers and Graeme Clark. All of these people have shaped our lives and the world we live in by the questions they have asked. Undeniably, however, it is the answers to these questions for which these people have become famous: or at least significant enough to deserve their own Wikipedia page. Surely, however, it is their questioning for which they should be remembered – after all, an answer is nothing without the question that precedes it.

Reflecting on my own school experiences, I can recall the many times I reached to the sky, bursting with enthusiasm, willing my teacher to choose me, quietly confident I knew the answer to the question asked of me and my classmates. I was secure in the knowledge that my role within the classroom was to repetitively respond to my teachers’ questions and to provide the predetermined answer he or she expected. I wonder if Einstein, Jobs or Fleming felt this way; striving to only find the answers that ‘might be on the test’. Or were they determined to ask their own questions, to make meaning of the world around them, and to challenge, innovate, discover, and learn?

Teachers in the ELC and Junior School draw on the students’ innately natural curiosity and interests and strive to create opportunities that allow students to truly experience learning: the excitement of questioning, testing, making, creating, and in some cases failing, are part of the joy of learning. One such experience, this week, has been our Year 2 students’ exploration of estimation and validity, making cupcakes without given quantities or a recipe. As a guest taste tester, I was so incredibly impressed by their wondering and questioning – unfortunately, I was not as impressed by their baking!

The philosophy of the IB Primary Years Programme and Middle Years Programme, and our belief in the Junior School, is that children best construct meaning, develop understanding, and learn when they are held at the centre of all learning engagements. We encourage, challenge, and guide our students to pose questions that are meaningful to them and support them to investigate, inquire and make judgements about the world around them. We learn through experience and by making meaning from these experiences. When we are curious and question, we become motivated and engaged. This is the aim of the ELC and Junior School, where all students question and wonder. You never know, the next Jobs, Einstein or Fleming could be sitting in our classroom!

Mr Peter McDonald
Head of Junior School and ELC