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Finding the Questions Worth Asking

by Ann Pelo
January/February 2014
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Article Link: https://www.childcareexchange.com/article/finding-the-questions-worth-asking/5021550/

Teachers are eager to teach; and to teach, we think, means to talk: to question, to nudge, to instruct, to challenge. I spoke recently with educators in Halifax about the habitual ways in which we frame teaching and learning. During our conversation, a teacher named Britanny commented, "We talk too much. We think that the children aren't learning if we don't ask them questions. We need to talk less, and more genuinely." Britanny hit the nail on the head. We tend to fling questions at children, one after another, a rapid-fire sequence of queries that bear little relevance to a child's pursuits and that hold little interest for us or for the child:

What color is that?
Which scoop holds more sand?
How many blocks are in your tower?
What letter does your baby's name start with?

Our intention is to teach, but our verbal quizzes reduce learning to a recitation of superficial facts.

When we reshape our intention, though, from teaching to thinking, our exchanges with children change. They become authentic conversations, and we ask our questions with the mutual aims of understanding a child's thinking and of ­supporting a child's search to make meaning — a search to know, rather ...

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