Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Questions are not Always the Answer

Over the course of the last year, I've been listening carefully to the discourses that transpire between children and teachers. 
My observations have led me to question the process of questioning young children while they work.

Many times the teacher's chattering, about much of nothing, overshadowed the children's work. Other times the silence could be sliced like a piece of cake.
Then I wondered, do we question other adults incessantly like we question young children or do we observe them to discern what they are doing and thinking? After all aren't our actions conveyors of messages?
Perhaps meaningful observations are what we should focus more of our time on. 
Of all the scenarios I observed, 
few had thoughtful 
 context, common sense and respect for the intelligence of the child. Not because the teachers didn't care but more because they didn't  know how.
Meaningless questions and empty discourse does more harm than silence.

Questions such as what colour did you use in your painting hold little sway in sparking an intelligent exchange. 

What is the answer then to the dilemma of asking good questions.

The truth is the focus must lie on thoughtful provocations, intelligent materials, a sound knowledge in child development so key areas can be easily identified without prodding the child for obvious answers. We must know our students and the hundred languages they engage to know the world and make sense of their experiences.

If teachers master this then the rest comes easily and learning truly happens.


  1. We need to listen with our eyes, and see with our ears. In other words-Be silent first. Allow the child to invite us into their thinking. When they say, "Look teacher." That is the invitation. And for goodness sake, don't say "Good job."

  2. Lovely post and comment. I have been wondering how to deepen questions