Composing a Teacher Study Group
Learning About Inquiry in Primary Classrooms
Routledge – 1997 – 248 pages
There has been a flurry of writing about teachers as inquirers and researchers as well as books about children as inquirers. This volume brings these two areas together -- teachers and students are inquiring at Ridgeway Elementary School. It demonstrates the importance of thought collectives as forums for student and teacher learning. The children in the primary classrooms in this book are working to understand the world around them and their place in it as literate individuals. Their teachers are studying themselves and the students. No other book describes the way this work affects children, teachers, and the ethos of the school in which the work occurs. In that sense, this book is groundbreaking in that it is an honest portrayal of the joys and sorrows, the successes and the stumbling blocks, the clear vision, and the obfuscating that teachers live as they enact a life of asking questions, being curious, wandering, and wondering.
Acknowledging and honoring the many faces of inquiry in schools, this book demonstrates the children's inquiry, their teachers' inquiry, and the place of that inquiry in schools. It lays out the ways in which inquiry is fundamental to teaching and learning in a democracy in which all of the members of the community have a voice in deciding curricular directions and ways of presenting learning. Teachers are presented as thinkers and learners, not merely as technicians enacting others' views of what is to be learned and when. Readers will find teachers dealing with the real issues of life in schools; they will see how teachers can use their existing situations as points of departure for their growth and their students' learning.
"Acknowledges that teacher inquiry is disruptive to the school community and that it challenges traditional hierarchy and authority patterns. But, in their place, such collaboration can bring newly motivated teachers and students as they create and recreate their own curriculum for learning….We get a real sense of the complexity of inquiry and how it occurs at different places in different ways--among children, among teachers, among university teachers and researchers."
"Fits into a new genre of writing that draws together aspects of qualitative/narrative research with its concerns for contextualizing stories; process and inquiry oriented approaches to pedagogy which have burgeoned in recent years….and movements toward bottom-up staff development and teacher empowerment….Studies such as this one are valuable to academics in uncovering some of the complexity of teaching and the obstacles to collaboration, and are valuable to teachers and future teachers in helping them think about the problems and prospects for local change at the school level….This book can spark lots of powerful discussion of school change -- as it has obviously done for me."
"Teachers, teacher educators, and staff development people will be very interested in this book. There is no other quite like it that I know of."
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Contents: Preface. Part I: Teachers and Students Wandering and Wondering: Participatory Professional Development. R.J. Meyer, The School as a Place for Teachers' Learning. K. Zetterman, Children Assuming Control of Their Learning. K. Ridder, Learning With Children What It Means to Be a Teacher. K. Larson, Refining Projects: Making the Leap Toward Individual Interests. L. Brown, L. DeNino, A Relationship That Supported Mutual Change. M. McKenzie, A Montessori Teacher, Learner, and Writer. Learning From a Researcher, a Researcher Learning. Part II: Sustained Commitments: Cultivating the Group, Voice, Politics, and Advocacy. R.J. Meyer, Thoughts Across Chapters Two Through Seven. Becoming Inquirers. The Dynamics of Sustaining a Study Group. Teachers' Voices and the Political Nature of Their Work. Implications: What's Next for Our Group and Yours? Appendices: Elaboration of the Context of Our Work. Procedural Issues.