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18 June, 2015 - 16:08
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If you have already mastered a particular area of knowledge, then looking up the answer or listening to an explanation may be sufficient to give a new piece of that knowledge a place in your personal understanding. That is not inquiry; in inquiry, you are trying to significantly expand, broaden or deepen your knowledge or skills, so that you can understand or do things that you could not understand or do before the inquiry. In this case, simply reading about something is not enough to learn it; the only way to create a place in your head for that knowledge or skill is to practice using it. This is why traditional classwork includes so many exercises and chances to practice, and why sports and music learning also center around practice. You may find yourself tempted to skip this step in order to move your inquiry along faster; do not skip this step! Take the long view, enjoy the journey, and realize that if there were short-cuts to becoming educated, everyone would be a world-class athlete, musician, doctor or engineer. This is the point at which many self-directed inquiries fail. The learner looks up an answer but fails to do something that turns "what people know" into "what I know and can do." In this type of situation, even if you manage to remember the disembodied "answer," you may fail to recognize the situations in which the information would be useful.

Since this is not a traditional classroom, you as the learner will decide how to organize, use and practice what you are discovering. You may already have a very clear idea of how to practice what you will be learning and how to present it to others in the "discuss" step of the inquiry. For example, if your goal involves composing songs for your band, no doubt you will try to incorporate what you have learned into your song-writing and ask for feedback from band members. If you are less certain how to turn what you are reading and hearing into something to do or create, try the inquiry in the Creative Responses to Music Learning module.