Authentic Enquiry is an approach to learning which begins with the learner’s interest and experience, rooted in concrete place object or artefact and moves from there through a process of faciltiated knowledge construction, to a particular negotiated outcome which meets publicly agreed assessment criteria. It’s bottom up, rather than top down. It’s authentic because it is ‘authored’ by the learner and because it is ‘real and genuine’ in their life story. A special issue of the Curriculum Journal was dedicated to this approach in 2009.
The ideas began with Professor Milan Jaros in the University of Newcastle and influenced the work in the learning power programme of research at the Graduate School of Education at the University of Bristol. In fact, Milan would say the ideas began with Walter Benjamin and the Arcades project to be fair.
We then applied them to our work with Gifted and Talented 16 year olds, young offenders and NEET learners. After that they became the focus of a unit at M level in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Bristol, and they now form part of the new MSc in Systems Learning and Leadership.
The ELLI learning power profiles allow a conversation about the Self, and the personal qualities necessary for learning, which is particularly helpful when the outcome is not predetermined from the start. Then the learning power dimensions scaffold the process, which requires the use of particular thinking and learning capabilities. These are not necessarily linear – rather they are recursive and cumulative – but they are necessary for constructing knowledge. They are different to the procedural steps which teachers or tutors facilitate or frame enquiry – for example the Enquiry Cycle.
These are some of the ideas which inform enquiry blogger.
Another way of putting it – which is more linear can be seen in this document attached. It describes the steps as procedures, with their accompanying thinking and learning capabilities, and the learning power dimensions which may be most useful. Authentic Enquiry Process 2011. We call this a pedagogy of place because it is local, authentic, owned and embodied – and honours diversity.