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Posts Tagged ‘questions

 
I have been an independent consultant for five years. I will be sharing unsolicited advice to anyone who wishes to leave conventional employment to be an independent worker.

The five question sets I will address next week are:

  1. Do you need to take care of anyone other than yourself?
  2. What is your backup plan?
  3. How comfortable are you with discomfort?
  4. What is in your portfolio, where is it, and how do people find it/you?
  5. Why do you want to do this?

I am sure that folks with aspirations to work independently will have a host of other questions.

I focus on this set in part to consolidate my experiences. I also know from page hits and feedback how a shared resource can have impact years down the road.

Ah, screen time. Parents want to know how much time is too much, armchair experts offer numbers, and much of the mainstream media perpetuates ignorance around the issue [examples in this video segment].

When will the fear-mongering stop? If the constant refrain from the Pessimists Archive podcast is correct, the answer is that it will not. We take comfort in what is old and fear what is new.

But there are ways to break out of the fear and inertia. One way is to ask better questions.

The easy but wrong question to ask is: How much screen time should I limit my child/student to? There is no magic number because every person is different and a number (if it even exists) depends on the context. The context begs other queries, e.g., when/where to use, what is the screen use for, why it is used.
 

 
Consider scenario A. A person is watching a video on a mobile phone while waiting to cross the road and continues watching while crossing. If you stick to the how much screen time question, my answer is zero if you value that person’s life.

Now switch the context to scenario B. The same person watches the video while travelling to work on the train. I say watch as much as your ride, data plan, wallet, or sanity allows.

Let us consider social learning contexts next.

In scenario C, a group of students decides to meet at a neighbourhood McDonald’s to discuss a class project. They need their phones to fact check, but they get distracted with memes. How much screen time should they have? How is contextual use important?

In scenario D, the same group meets online to collaboratively build a world in Minecraft. This is part of their project on climate change. Again, how much screen time should they have? How is contextual use more important?
 

 
It can take hours to edit one YouTube video. You might be able to watch one hundred videos in the same time if you go down a YouTube rabbit hole. The quantity of time is the same, but the quality of the tasks are different.

If we learn to stop asking the how much question and focus on the how, what, where, or why questions, we learn to empathise with our children and students.

That is my rant. Now here is a real ranter’s rant.


Video source


Video source

Kyle Hill of Because Science was asked (at the 21min 40 sec mark): What is the thing you are most glad you learnt (or learned in US English)?

I was so struck by that question that I paused the video and drafted this reflection before I continued watching the video.

Hill had his answer and I have mine. I am glad that I learnt to question and to ask questions.

Schooling taught me not to question, or if I had to, to ask only safe questions. It was when I pursued postgraduate degrees that I learnt most to question what I had been taught and to ask good questions.

I was not taught to question nor was I taught strategies for questioning. Instead I observed more seasoned others in the form of professors and peers. It probably helped that I was in a different country where questioning and questions were the norm.

My regret is that I have spent only about half of my 30 years as a teacher and educator encouraging my learners to question. Questioning is one of the best ways to learn and I endeavour to work on my pedagogy of questions.

If you seek to indoctrinate, provide the answers. If you seek to educate, provide questions.

The truth hurts. This is why we need to teach students not just answers but also how to ask questions.

Not any type of questions though. Good questions [examples] like those that seek to clarify, reason, and critique.

I ask questions quite a bit on my blog. For example, yesterday I raised questions about the coding move for primary school students in Singapore.

Sometimes I ask myself if I should ask these questions. After all, these can come across as being critical or cynical, aggressive, or anti-establishment.

However they are perceived, I know that they come from a good place — the heart and mind of a reflective educator — and were nurtured in a graduate school and varsity that valued critical thinking.

So I remind myself: If not me, then who? If it helps someone else think more deeply about an issue or a plan, why not ask away?

As I ask questions, I am guided by these principles.

I would rather have questions that can't be answered than answers that can't be questioned. -- Richard Feynman

We learn more by looking for the answer to a question and not finding it than we do from learning the answer itself. -- Lord Alexander.

If you seek to indoctrinate, provide the answers. If you seek to educate, provide questions.

If your students can Google the answer, you are not asking the right questions.

If you seek to indoctrinate, provide the answers. If you seek to educate, provide questions.

I have been wondering out loud about designing and conducting workshops on the pedagogy of questions.

I revisited my plan after reading this piece by George Couros, Starting With the Questions to Develop Curiosity and Better Solutions.

However, these workshops remain a pipe dream because I have not met people open enough to try this approach.

Recently I took the opportunity to share my ideas with a contact. It went as it usually does — after a pleasant conversation, the ideas were gently rejected.

But I refuse to develop an immunity to people who either dismiss what they do not understand or not bother to find out more. I have the cure they need the most: It is called the pedagogy of questions.

If you seek to indoctrinate, provide the answers. If you seek to educate, provide questions.

From this Edutopia article comes these statements:

It’s said that at the age of 5 children ask 120 questions a day, at age 6 they ask 60 questions a day—and at 40 adults ask only four questions a day. Embrace a beginner’s mind and ask questions.

Staying true to the need to query, I have the questions:

Who said what was said?

Assuming the numbers to be true, how does the number of questions indicate the type and quality of questions, if at all?

Is asking four critically important questions less important than asking 120 superficial ones? Why or why not?


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