BCW teamAgency, Differentiation, Planning and Assessment, Understanding Learners

ABC of INQUIRY Interest


ABC of INQUIRY – INTEREST  “The whole art of teaching is only the art of awakening the natural curiosity of young minds for the purpose of satisfying it afterwards.” – Anatole France

INTEREST: A chance to connect 

Teaching and learning that is based around leaner interests doesn’t mean a free-for all in terms of just doing what students want. Interests are the hooks or prior knowledge platforms that students can use to engage with required curriculum driven learning.

Interest in a learning situation is connected to relevancy and agency.

In the BeConWiz IASKU model interest is explained as “Addressing student prior knowledge and interest”

Interest might be addressed by enabling students to identify and choose ways of working that make the most sense to them, rather than providing all students with the same way of doing a task. Interests might be addressed by providing time for students to reflect on a topic and use visible thinking routines, provocations or reflections to bring forward ideas about the relevancy for connections the learning topic has with their own lives and experiences. Interest might be having a selection of books, tools or resources available for learners to choose from when exploring a given topic, concept or theme, rather than everyone doing or using the same thing.

In learning areas where such choice is limited, student interest can be uncovered or given a chance to develop by providing opportunities for learners to reflect on and name the relevancy or connections this learning has with their own lives. For example a guest speaker may come in and address questions or help generate wonderings before any topic or concept is explored in depth in this way learners have the opportunity engage with possibilities or ideas that they already know or see a relevance for the learning outside the classroom.

Example: Social Studies or HSIE investigations into migration

In order to develop an interest and therefore increase the chance of student engagement, students might use a visible thinking routine to reflect on connections or relevance of the idea of choice, moving, place or belonging in order to bring forward their own ideas and see the topic as having relevance to themselves. 

If the school has a prescribed text that all students have to read, invite them to create a class library of texts (fiction and non-fiction, across genres) that have a similar theme but are known or liked by members of the learning community that could be compared to the required text. In this way students may begin to develop understandings and practices that enable them to see that in real world, requirements have to be met, but that people have sites of agency and action in making connections between the requirements and their personal interest.

Topic content may be fixed for a variety of school reasons, as might the processes learning has to follow, so another way of bringing learner interest is to enable and let the students form their own communities of practice in which they can investigate and reflect on topic content and leaning processes.

In summary interest is connected to learning being relevant and learner have some agency at different points in the learning process.


*BCW will now use‘They,their — themself’ as a singular, gender-neutral pronoun in all subsequent material generated on our website.

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