In schools, population education is aimed at influencing the student’s attitudes and behaviour toward problems and issues and it is taken for granted that the subject matter is controversial.
These two considerations necessitate developing in a student (or out-of-individual) the skills for making responsible decisions about the controversial issue of his reproductive behaviour. In making responsible decisions, the student has to have complete information concerning an issue. And only through an analysis of the pros and cons and exploration of alternative actions the student can arrive at a responsible decision.
Given this objective and the controversial nature of the subject matter, it is obvious that the teaching method appropriate to population education cannot be one in which the teacher is a dictator in his style.
Rather, the ideal teaching method should present and evaluate plausible alternatives in terms of the advantages and disadvantages associated with each. In short, what the population education programme aims to develop in the type of student who can freely make responsible decisions, rather than one who will, automatically and unthinkingly, decide on a small family.
The programme aims to develop the type of population education teacher or worker who can observe, describe, predict and understand what changes in population mean: what is the effect on the family of having few or many children; what is the effect on society of having many more younger people than older people in the population; what affects the growth of population more birth rates or death rates, etc.
What is the inquiry approach?
The inquiry approach is a teaching style where the learner, with the minimum guidance from the teacher seeks to discover and create an answer to a recognized problem acquire, they also gain experience that help them to learn how to learn.
For example, instead of listening to an authority on the advantages and disadvantages of having few children, the learners themselves are guided to probe the issue of family size.
It is conceptual instead of factual
The inquiry approach is built around basic concepts and generalizations. Instead of merely enumerating the beliefs, values and practices of a group of individuals concerning family size, the students themselves examine systematically the beliefs, values and practices in their own communities that favour a large family. Afterwards, they evaluate what they have gathered.
It is student-centered
The student plays a more important role in the inquiry approach as compares to his role in the expository approach. He works cooperatively with the teacher in exploring the various facts of the problem instead of merely listening to the teacher about it. The student does the actual investigation while the teacher serves as a facilitator providing assistance only when required.
It requires action
The inquiry approach views the student as active mover of the things as opposed to passive recipient of commands. The student actively participates in the entire learning sequence. In this process, he is trained to become not only an independent learner but a critical thinker as well.
It uses content not as an end but as a mean to attain other important purposes
In the inquiry approach, the processes he goes through help him to develop his learning skills. He becomes more critical. He learns to probe issues, to analyse and to discriminate and to make decisions on alternatives.
Inquiry is not the discovery of an answer that is picked from a book, but
rather, the development of an answer or solution by the learner himself based on the result of his search and investigations.
This means that in his search for right answer or reply to a felt question, the student thinks over several sources of pertinent data, organizes and analyzes the information, concludes and decides on the best possible solution.
Briefly speaking, the inquiry approach means getting answers to questions through the collection and analysis of information.
The primary goal of the inquiry approach, according to one prominent authority, is “to provide the students a sense of efficacy, i.e. the belief that they have the skills to look critically at their environment and to a large measure, control their own destiny and influence the decisions affecting them.”
This involves more than simply knowing where to get the needed data. It requires also an attitude of curiosity, the ability to evaluate and analyze at problem and the ability to use information and observations in validating the conclusion. Thus, the inquiry approach aims at developing in the learners those skills, values, attitudes and knowledge that will enable them to think critically so that they may become independent problem solvers.
If the learners are trained to recognize important problems in their environment and suggest plausible solution, it is hoped that they will grow into reasonably adults.
Some outstanding characteristics of the inquiry approach identified in the literature are:
It is more effective
It is more effective than the traditional expository approach in terms of bringing about learning in stimulating critical thinking and more active participation and in developing in students, a favourable attitude towards the subject matter and other related things.