Consider this: One cannot get on the program at a scientific meeting or be awarded a patent by simply repeating last year’s successful idea. Yet in school, students are exposed mainly to what is already known, along with the reproduction of existing ideas that figure prominently in learning activities and assessment.
Students need to take part in the process of creating, not just repeating knowledge. Why? Because there is a big difference between merely knowing about something, and gaining a deep understanding of how math, science and other disciplines live in the world.
Building knowledge involves a continual process of extending, sharing and improving upon what is already known. Experts in a field of study are always pushing these boundaries, leading to new ideas and inventions that can change lives. This spirit of inquiry can also take place in schools where students are willing and capable to take on the challenges of the outside world. As students develop knowledge-building competencies, they come to see themselves and their work as part of the effort to advance the frontiers of what we know as a society, and indeed contribute in a meaningful way to the body of work within a discipline.
Learn more by reading Chapter 1 of Focus on Inquiry: Knowledge Building within Discipline Based Inquiry