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A Question for a Question !

A Question for a Question: Cultivating Inquiry in an IB PYP Curriculum

In the ever-evolving landscape of education, fostering curiosity and nurturing critical thinking skills in students is paramount. As educators in the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (IB PYP), we have the privilege of guiding young minds towards a deeper understanding of the world around them. One potent tool at our disposal is the art of questioning. Encouraging students to ask questions and respond with a counter question can lead to profound critical analysis, enhance understanding, and instil a lifelong love for learning.

Unleashing the Power of Inquiry-Based Learning

At the core of the IB PYP lies the philosophy of inquiry-based learning. This approach places students in the driver's seat of their education, encouraging them to explore, investigate, and question the world. The beauty of this method is that it nurtures students not only as learners, but also as inquisitive thinkers, problem solvers, and active participants in their own learning journey.

The Role of the Educator

As educators, our role is not to simply provide answers but to facilitate a process that stimulates critical thought. One of the most powerful ways to achieve this is by using questions to prompt further thinking. When a student presents a query, instead of providing a direct answer, consider responding with another question. This not only challenges the student to delve deeper into their own thought process but also encourages them to develop analytical skills, refine their understanding, and explore various angles of the topic.

Fostering Critical Analysis

John Dewey, a pioneer in educational philosophy, once said, "Education is not the preparation for life; education is life itself." By nurturing a culture of questioning, we empower students to engage with their subjects in a holistic manner. When students learn to pose and explore their own questions, they gain insights that go beyond mere memorization. They learn to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate information, thus building a foundation for critical thinking that will serve them well beyond the classroom.

Cultivating a Lifelong Love for Learning

Educator and author John MacBeath has emphasized that inquiry-based learning instils in students the skills and enthusiasm to be lifelong learners. When students are encouraged to ask questions and seek answers, they develop a natural curiosity that extends beyond the curriculum. This curiosity becomes a driving force that propels them to explore diverse topics, read widely, and engage actively with the world, even after they leave the classroom.

The Ripple Effect: Empowering Young Minds

As educators, we aim to create an environment where students not only absorb information but also contribute to its creation. When we respond to their questions with questions, we empower them to trust their own intellectual abilities. This approach nurtures a sense of ownership over their learning and, in turn, boosts their confidence to explore, experiment, and innovate.

In conclusion, the art of questioning is an invaluable tool in an inquiry-based curriculum. By responding to student queries with thought-provoking questions, we foster critical thinking, deepen understanding, and cultivate a passion for learning that extends beyond the classroom. Remember, as the great educator Paulo Freire once stated, "Asking questions is a way of maintaining the dignity of students."

So, let us embrace this philosophy and encourage our young learners to question, ponder, and explore, for in doing so, we are sowing the seeds of a brighter, more inquisitive future.

Note: This blog post is inspired by the works and philosophies of renowned educators like John Dewey, John MacBeath, and Paulo Freire, who have championed the cause of inquiry-based learning.

Cheryl Shah


Head of Primary & IB PYP Coordinator at Adani International School, Ahmedabad India.

Education Influencer / Academic Researcher



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