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Asking good questions

Posted on: July 29, 2020

One aspect of the pedagogy of questions is asking good questions. This is something teachers need to learn to do and something that students need to be taught.

While some teacher preparation or professional development might address this, e.g., Socratic questioning, it might not be a priority. So I use the video below to illustrate how good questions create a wealth of answers.

Video source

My blogged “crash course” offers one principle-as-practice: Crowdsource your questions. This operates on the principle that that many is smarter than one. Here is an example of the principle in practice:

One educator reached out on edu-Twitter to fellow educators for questions he could post to his mayor.

His question led to clarifications about his request and a few key questions. His explanations likely clarified his goals and purpose for his meeting. He could have thought up the questions himself, but he can how say that others have the same concerns.

Bonus round: Asking good questions is not a sign of weakness. It is a skillset that provides opportunities for critical dialogue and varied perspectives. But those outcomes are not guaranteed if these conditions are not met:

  • Both teachers and students are comfortable with uncomfortable questions
  • The answers are not fixed, i.e., they are shades of grey instead of pure black or white
  • All participants have learnt to respect the process, e.g., they listen and clarify first
  • They expect that the process is sometimes the product, i.e., they might not have clear answers or agreement
  • The classroom walls are porous enough to include a variety of voices and expertise

Do you need a workshop or an online course on the pedagogy of questions? Enquire within.

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