Inquiry-Based Learning: My learning experience

I greatly enjoyed my modelling project, and this assignment was just the kick-start I needed to get into a hobby that I have been appreciating only vicariously for many, many years (by reading material like this).

I learned by asking questions and then looking for answers on the internet, in books and magazines.  One question would lead to others (for example, for additional details) and then, most excitingly, to a discovery of some piece of information that I wasn’t yet seeking but became intrigued by, which lead me into new directions of investigation.  The hobby of building model airplanes for me is inevitably linked to my interest in aircraft and my study of history; one interest feeds the others in a never-ending circular fashion.  Until now, though, no model kits were being built, only imagined.  Imagination is a great start, but human beings have a need to be creative and to hold and show the results of their creativity.

So another way I learned was by actually manipulating the parts of the kit, and by using the appropriate tools for the job.  You can listen to and watch someone explain what tool to use and how to use it, but until one tries to use the tool for themselves there is still mystery involved.  One “knows” how a tool is used by experiencing how it to use it.  This applied especially to more complex tools such as the airbrush and the paints and primers I sprayed through it.  Eventually I was able to make these work and the success was exhilarating!  (I am still excited about it and telling friends, a couple of weeks later.) img_3711

Perhaps part of the reason I hadn’t started to build kits earlier was fear of not succeeding (and of wrecking an expensive and possibly “irreplaceable” kit).  There were other reasons to be sure; demands of work, moving, children, aging parents, home and garden, etc. all make claims on one’s time, energy, and resources.  Having finally made good progress on a model of my own, I have witnessed for myself that the confidence one gets from achieving the desired results is the best sort of encouragement that a self-learner can receive.

What this exercise showed was how much more effectively students can learn when they are allowed to investigate things for themselves rather than just learn passively.  Sometimes all we need is a little encouragement and an opportunity (time) to try something new.  Moreover, actively gathering knowledge is much more rewarding to human beings than just receiving it passively.

Also, skills are best learning by trying them until the standards are achieved, rather than by just watching how that skill is performed by an expert.  There are limits to what can be learned from others, but when one becomes able to learn independently there are nearly no limits to what can be investigated and discovered.

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