The narrow-sense and wide-sense community of inquiry: What it means for teachers

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In this paper, I introduce the narrow-sense and wide-sense conceptions of the community of inquiry (Sprod, 2001) as a way of understanding what is meant by the phrase ‘converting the classroom into a community of inquiry.’ The wide-sense conception is the organising or regulative principle of scholarly communities of inquiry and a classroom-wide ideal for the reconstruction of education. I argue that converting the classroom into a community of inquiry requires more than following a specific procedural method, and, therefore, that the wide-sense conception must inform the narrow-sense community of inquiry, as it provides the pedagogical guidelines for classroom practice. This is followed by a discussion on the dual role of the teacher as facilitator and co-inquirer in mediating between the two conceptions of the community of inquiry. Finally, I look at three different interpretations of John Dewey’s educational theory and practice that underpins philosophy for children. I conclude that without an understanding of the relationship between the two conceptions of the community of inquiry to guide the larger aims of an education that supports democratic ways of life, the teacher’s role remains unclear.
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First archival date: 2021-05-04
Latest version: 2 (2021-05-13)
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