The Narrow-sense and Wide-sense Community of Inquiry: What It Means for Teachers

  • Gilbert Burgh


Introduction: My approach in this paper on the community of inquiry is to think of it in the context of democracy as primarily a process; as a way of being, a way of thinking and communicating on important life-matters, and as an associated from of living that is inherently inclusive but requiring the cooperation of others. In doing so, I am not expressly ignoring the political dimensions of governance, systems, and organizations, as such matters are important, but I consider them to be subsidiary to the social dimension of democracy—at least where education is concerned. Nevertheless, what binds both the political and social dimensions is that democracy is a form of inquiry. Our task as educators in a democracy is to develop the skills, capacities, and dispositions to facilitate the kinds of relationships that support democratic ways of life. Because learning to think is at the core of educational aims and practices, the kind of support that education can offer is to facilitate the development of these skills, capacities, and dispositions necessary to both living in and thinking about democracy.