Asking Good Questions

Imagine that you go to a meeting at work every Monday morning. You never quite understand the pertinence of the topics that are discussed. Every week you ask, "Why are we worrying about this?" or "Wouldn't our time be better spent talking about some other aspect of our business?" You are playing the Why Game, the same game that children play with their parents, except that years of experience have taught you not to let your questions go too far afield.

Now, imagine that every week the chair of the meeting says, "That would be a good question to ponder if we didn't have so much ground to cover." How long will you continue to ask questions? If you want to keep your job, you will stop asking why, and instead figure out how to play whatever game is being played in these meetings. In short, you will learn to cater to the desires of the authorities in the environment. This may be appropriate in business where the ultimate purpose is certainly not the enlightenment of all concerned, but in a classroom it sets a tone that is antithetical to the learning process.

Nevertheless, this is is exactly what happens to children in today's classrooms, particularly those who are most eager to please the grownups. Their job is to sit in classes that are, for the most part, assigned to them. Often, they cannot figure out how the content discussed in these classes relates to their lives. Though they are assured that it matters that they learn about cosines, the Entente Cordial, and iambic pentameter, they really have no choice anyway. When they ask questions that go in the "wrong" direction, that is, questions that diverge from the curriculum, the teacher is forced to respond, as did the meeting chair, "Good question, but we have no time for it." And, if the child is eager to please, as most are, he will learn to drop the Why Game and learn to participate in "classroom discussion."

Next Story Students Need to Ask Questions

Outline Where am I in the content of the book?

Give Me An Example

Give Me Alternatives

What Is Next

What Led To This?

What Should Be Avoided?

What Can Be Done?

Give Me Details

Give Me Background

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