Answers don’t drive learning, questions do
Posted March 11, 2015on:
If someone asked you a question like “What would you take to a deserted island?” you could provide an assortment of answers, just like the people did in the video above.
You could also react in a few ways.
The first way is refusing to answer.
The second is providing an answer with barely a thought. This is something an author at TNW advocated recently when he suggested that being dumb is smarter than being smart. While there is much immediacy and honesty to such a response, the suggestion seemed to be built on the premise of not overthinking things.
The example the writer cited was how you might respond to a question: Do you want an orange? You could dimply say yes or no, or you could wonder if the asker had ulterior motives.
A simple question warrants a simple answer. That makes sense. But life rarely has simple questions or answers. If schools are meant to prepare kids for life, they should not focus on just the simple questions or the simple-to-grade questions.
This leads to the third way: Answering the deserted island question by asking clarifying questions first. Just think of the questions you could ask. Now think about which questions are better than others. Then think about how we might teach kids to think like this and productively distinguish the critical questions from the criticizing, time-wasting ones.
This might be a good starting exercise in my dream workshop on the Pedagogy of Questions.