Random Inquiry Based Learning

Inquiry based learning is the current buzz in educational circles, but until we truly free students from the yoke of expectation, they can never be free to own their own learning.  In order to recognize the entirely arbitrary and capricious nature of the world, we take a page from Zen.

The RIBL classroom

Inquiry based learning depends upon the teacher to create an environment in which students pursue their own goals in their own way, Random Inquiry Based Learning (RIBL) takes it a step further.   In order to experience RIBL, a student must be surprised by the learning.  Taking a page from Zen teaching, RIBL thrives on coincidence, serendipity and happenstance.  Any attempt to organize RIBL results in a RIBL-less outcome.

RIBL cares nothing for fairness or rules.  RIBL capers in the chaos of a dancing star. 

In a RIBLed classroom the teacher must take on the roll of instigator, chaos clown and mischief maker, unless of course students are expecting that; only the unexpected can yield RIBLed results.  RIBL thrives in the unexpected.

The RIBL teacher recognizes that life is essentially meaningless and doesn’t force a false sense of security on their students.  They discourage any belief in social norms and try for existential angst whenever they can.

RIBLed rubrics contain sections like: shock, awe, bewilderment and eureka.  If the learning is unexpected and creating an epiphany in the learner, then RIBL has been achieved.  If a student learns what they are supposed to be learning, the teacher has failed.  Only when students discover momentous breakthroughs in calculus while studying Shakespeare, or suddenly grasp photo-synthesis in phys-ed class, is RIBL being achieved.

RIBLed students are often nervous or completely terrified of what may happen in class.  They often cower in groups in the hallway, refusing to make eye contact with their terrifying, unpredictable teachers.  Many high schools seem to have adopted RIBL approaches to learning already.

There is only one rule about RIBL, you do not talk about RIBL!  (unless you unexpectedly do)

RIBL defies optimization or organization, in fact, it actively dismantles them.  The RIBL that can be explained is not the true RIBL.  Only through lack of certainty can students truly exceed their own expectations and learn something new about themselves.

Beware staring into RIBL, for 
the longer you stare in to RIBL, 
the longer RIBL stares back into you!

Graduates of RIBL schooling include: Vinny VanGogh, Freddy Nietzsche, Gini Wolfe and Bertie Einstein.  Students of the RIBL school produce unpredictable results, and surprise their teachers with amputated body parts or dramatic suicide attempts.  Collateral damage is a certainty if you’re RIBLing properly, but if you’re a committed RIBLer you gain more from failing than you do from succeeding.  Safety is another false belief that the RIBLer discards.

A student who produces work that annoys or seems irrelevant to the work at hand is a strong candidate for a good RIBLing.

Engagement is never an issue in the RIBLed classroom as RIBLed students are often in great peril and tend to approach classwork in a defensive/survival stance rather than with sighs of boredom.

RIBLing is the most divine form of teaching, it’s what the world does when class isn’t on.