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Nanjing International School
Nanjing International School
Nanjing International School

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Nanjing International School

What is Inquiry-Based Learning?

Take a walk through our Primary School and you will find students exploring topics that they are curious about and working with independence in a collaborative setting. An inquiry-based approach to learning is alive and well in the diverse learning environment that supports the development of our youngest students.

This approach places the learner at the center of their learning journey, which not only embodies our mission, but also prepares them for life outside of school by inspiring a lifelong love of learning.

Mr. Gareth Jacobson, our Deputy Head of Primary School at NIS, is an enthusiastic proponent of an inquiry-based approach. “Inquiry is guided by the student’s own curiosities and questions they want to pursue,” Mr. Jacobson explained. “The teacher’s role is to leverage and facilitate this curiosity to make authentic learning happen within the framework of a structured curriculum.” Inquiry-based learning is conducive to the ever-changing, high-tech world in which we all live, and challenges an educational tradition that emphasizes the memorization of facts or simply learning by rote. Mr. Jacobson also believes that in a diverse learning community like NIS an inquiry-based approach is well-suited, as it's one that can complement each learner’s different pathway towards learning and personal excellence.

While inquiry-based learning fills our Primary School with curiosity and nurtures independence and passionate learning each day, Mr. Jacobson believes its real power lies in its ability to prepare our youngest learners for life outside school: “Inquiry itself is considered a kind of innate way in which we learn and a natural extension of our own curiosities. This natural curiosity to learn doesn't stop when you finish Primary School, and it doesn't stop when you finish High School either.”

The inquiry-based approach that is so central to inspiring independent learning in our Primary School also plays an important role in preparing students for the remainder of their learning journey at NIS. The foundations for this can be seen through our approaches to learning that are evident in our Middle and Upper Schools and anchored within our International Baccalaureate (IB) philosophy.

“The kind of skills that support the development and confidence to become a lifelong-learner are what we call the approaches to learning,” said Mr. Jacobson. “Through inquiry we can learn strategies to manage ourselves, to organize our workload, work with others and develop social skills. Importantly, through inquiry challenges we learn to use high level critical thinking skills like the ability to analyze and synthesize information to make decisions. We further learn to think creatively by finding different solutions to problems and overcoming challenges. And, we learn to communicate, through writing, reading, speaking and listening in different languages and by exploring different mediums of technology to convey understanding.”