Developing the language of thinking within a classroom community of inquiry: pre-service teachers’ experiences
We argue that the “community of inquiry” approach, using reading materials modelled on Lipman’s Philosophy for Children programme, is a theoretically justified and teacher-friendly means of promoting effective thinking skills. The stimulus materials, used by the pre-service teachers, consist of short stories of classroom life designed to elicit children’s ideas for further discussion as a community of inquiry. Research has shown that the community of inquiry approach to classroom discussion is perceived positively by educators and teachers and makes a difference to learners. This study explored how the Intermediate and Senior Phase pre-service teachers experienced a classroom community of inquiry by using a qualitative research design with 47 final year pre-service teachers. Data consisted of written reflections from the whole class and recordings of two focus group interviews with selected individuals from the group. From the analysis of the data, the following themes became evident: personal and professional development, changes in learners, contextual concerns, and curriculum links. We conclude that this approach is a valuable addition to the pedagogical strategies of pre-service teachers.
Keywords: community of inquiry; philosophy for children; teacher development; thinking and reading skills