Krogh, S.L & Morehouse, P. (2014) The Early Childhood Curriculum: Inquiry Learning Through Integration. New York: Routledge
This book explores the philosophy of ‘Inquiry Based Learning’ through an integrated curriculum, within the context of early years practice. It is written with a North American audience in mind, but the underlying principles of early years’ education mean that it is appropriate for a much wider readership. It comprises of three parts with part one focusing on an overview of the components needed for successful inquiry-based learning and curriculum integration. Part two explores the separate subject areas and this is where readers outside of the United States(US) will have to adapt the subject divisions and apply a ‘best fit’ approach to their own country’s curriculum. It is interesting to note though that the same subject areas are marginalised on both sides of the Atlantic, which would provide opportunities for debate. Part three explores the ‘why’ of inquiry learning.
Each chapter ends with a brief summary, discussion and action points. This is a practitioner guide for those working within the early years or those wishing to gain a deeper insight in to inquiry-based learning in early years practice.
The authors incorporate a wide variety of educational theorists into their writing, with particular emphasis on those most appropriate to early years philosophy. The theories of Froebel, Piaget and Vygotsky are all discussed and the authors make valuable connections between the theories and everyday early years practice. Pioneers of early education also feature heavily within the first section of the book. Montessori, the McMillan sisters, Loris Malaguzzi (Reggio Emilia) and High/Scope are all discussed and the backgrounds to each philosophy explored. The work of the pioneers is linked back to the theories they evolved from and to the daily practice they have since influenced.
The largest and perhaps most insightful chapter is Chapter 5 (Part 1). Interestingly it is the chapter that focuses on the subtitle ‘Inquiry-based Learning’. This chapter is relevant for anyone seeking to facilitate inquiry-based learning and offers worthwhile hints and tips on how to develop young learners’ questioning and comprehension skills. This is supported with links to Bloom’s Taxonomy and ‘real life’ examples are given. Once again the links between theory and practice are evident.
The final part of the book focuses on the concluding thoughts of the authors, looking at the wider benefits of inquiry-based learning on society. This final section is thought provoking and dissects the reasons for inquiry learning and curriculum integration. The issues of social justice, tolerance and sustainability are explored from an early years perspective and the significant impact inquiry-based learning can have on individuals (and as a result society) becomes clear.
This book is an interesting and enjoyable read. It would be suitable for students on an Initial Teacher Education degree course due to the structured layout and clear links between theory and practice. The action points encourage reflective thinking, which is a necessary characteristic in the education field. It explores a range of education theorists and pioneers and offers a multitude of ‘tried and tested’ suggestions for classroom organisation and management, albeit with a US slant. However, regardless of your geographical location this book provides a thorough introduction to effective inquiry-based early years practice.
Louise Wormwell, Senior Lecturer, Newman University