The Enquiry Question Mincer

Hi all

I mentioned a process called ‘the mincer’ to you and I wanted to share it with you as I think it could be useful. I cannot see how to upload a file (my luddite tendencies are never far away) but I will copy and paste it below for you. It is not mine, so a word about where I got it from: I work as a creative agent for creative partnerships, as administered by the UK Centre for Carnival Arts. The scheme encourages creative teaching and learning through addressing a school wide enquiry and solving it in partnership with artists or other creative practitioners. The mincer was given out freely by Rosy Prue the local co-ordinator. I will ask if there is an author and add it on here shortly if necessary.

I have gone through the creative partnership process with two schools in the past year and used the mincer successfully with both . It drills down a broad area of interest into a tight ‘problem’, or at least it tightens it somewhat. Both schools I worked with wanted to increase literacy levels. On going through the mincer process we uncovered that literacy was about issues such as connection, community, expression, story, the opposite of which lay disengagement and isolation, which helped us get to the core of the problem.

The questions we ended up with were

How can story develop literacy?
How can an exploration of voice develop expression?

I am not sure that this will work with any enquiry but it is worth a go, and i think fills a gap between identifying the object, and all the questions around it, to formulating one particular area for enquiry. Perhaps you’d like to try it?

The Enquiry Question Mincer

This exercise is an opportunity to probe more deeply into what might be loading or underlying your enquiry question.

The mincer is a linear process that acts as a stimulus for conversation in order to unpick your question.

➢ Start: By writing your enquiry question on the left hand side of a piece of paper…
o Why is environment intrinsic to learning?
o Why is equal voice important to successful collaboration?

FOLD YOUR PAPER OVER ONCE YOU’RE READY TO MOVE ON SO YOU’RE NOT LOOKING BACK

➢ Dissect the question and pull out the key elements and themes from it – usually two or three core themes that make up the essence of the challenge question. Key words.
e.g.
o Environment
o Learning
o Equal voice
o Collaboration

FOLD YOUR PAPER OVER ONCE YOU’RE READY TO MOVE ON SO YOU’RE NOT LOOKING BACK

➢ The next step is to explore the dynamics of these elements, to identify the spectrum or polarities that make up these questions. These are often two extremes hence we naturally end up with the following polarities:
e.g.
o Physical V emotional
o Enabling and inspiring V stifling and crushing
o Didactic V experiential
o Growth V stagnation
o Dictatorship V democracy
o Lone-ranger V partnership working

FOLD YOUR PAPER OVER ONCE YOU’RE READY TO MOVE ON SO YOU’RE NOT LOOKING BACK

➢ The final part of the mincer is to generate new questions using the polarities and dynamics as a stimulus. There is no right or wrong answer, it just helps to broaden the perspective:
e.g.
o Is there space in education for didactic teaching?
o Do you need to be inspired to learn?
o How do you encourage self-motivation?
o Is democracy truly achievable?
o How does emotional literacy enhance learning?

NB It can be helpful to come away from an education context at this point, so that you are considering the polarities as universal principles and concepts when generating new questions.

This entry was posted in 3. Generating questions, 4. Uncovering narratives, Other. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Enquiry Question Mincer

  1. markmoorhouse says:

    Wow! Interesting and thanks for sharing this. The step where the polarities and spectrum of thinking within the statements would take practice, but this looks good. And I understand the “mincer’ reference even more now.

  2. Kayte Judge says:

    I’ve done it twice and it certainly takes a leap of faith, but it does help to explore the core of the question. In a group it could be led in pairs, one taking the other through the process and then swapping. It may not even result in a change to the question or topic, but I would bet that it would deepen understanding of it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *