From Inquiry to Action
By Steve Zemelman
Now more than ever, as we have seen this year, our society needs citizens who can thoughtfully act to improve their communities, rather than just grow cynical about the problems they see. Public school in this country has been conceived as the place where young people are prepared for this role. The subjects we teach give students the tools, but they also need to learn the processes and skills to actually participate.
From Inquiry to Action by Steve Zemelman (published by Heinemann, 2016) provides a guide to help students learn to address civic and social issues by not only reading and discussing, but also acting to help resolve them. It’s filled with accounts of real classrooms at many grade levels, where students carry out project-based learning in which they identify issues that matter to them, research, write and plan, and then act to promote concrete civic improvements. The book provides strategies and reflections on the teacher’s role in balancing student initiative and choice with support and instruction. It shows how this work can be enacted in subject areas across the curriculum. And it links teachers to TEDx talks, supportive organizations, and other writings that further help teachers understand and envision how to facilitate this kind of learning in their own classrooms. As the stories in this book illustrate, students who experience civic action projects acquire academic and civic skills and mindsets and gain a sense of agency as both learners and citizens. What teacher wouldn’t want to see that? learn more