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Posts Tagged ‘questions

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?

Is there anything wrong with providing an answer before asking a question?

The tweet above by a newspaper typifies what some teachers do: Not just answering their own questions, but answering before questioning.

This might seem efficient, but it is not effective in nurturing learners who can think creatively and critically.

Answering before questioning creates these expectations and habits:

  • Do not think, just wait for the teacher
  • The teacher will provide
  • There is only one right or desired answer

Providing one or more answers before asking questions is like providing a solution before identifying a problem. There is no purpose or context. There is no authenticity. There is no reason to create meaning.

I have said this before and I will say it again: We need to rely less on a pedagogy of answers and more on a pedagogy of questions.

Google provided lots of answers at the first day of I/O 2018.


Video source

Perhaps I missed something, but what were the questions? Who asked the questions and why were they asked? How exactly are we paying for the answers?

Don’t get me wrong — some of the answers and solutions are intriguing. But to be convinced, I need to know what the questions and problems were. Before you problem-solve, you need to problem-seek.

Despite the doubling of tweet length, this one (archived version) needs more context.

The sharing session might focus on WHAT the context is and HOW the supposed system auto-magically does this.

But I wonder if it will explore the WHY of doing this. Answering this question explores the ethics of incorporating such technology. This might include what data is collected and how algorithms run to make summary decisions.

Let us not forget where others have gone or are going before, i.e., how Facebook and Google are under the microscope for not being more careful with student data.

I am recreating some of my favourite image quotes I created some time ago. This time I use Pablo by Buffer and indicate attribution and CC license.

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

Remember bite-sized lesson 2: question? In it I referred to the importance of using the pedagogy of questions (PoQ), not just the pedagogy of answers (PoA).

However, simply asking factual or low-level questions is not representative of the PoQ. It is not just about searching for answers and getting them right. This focuses on the product of learning.

The PoQ is more about the processes of teaching, e.g., asking the unGoogleable questions, and of learning, e.g., analysing and evaluating what is found.

Note: I am on vacation with my family. However, I am keeping up my blog-reflection-a-day habit by scheduling a thought a day. I hope this shows that reflections do not have to be arduous to provoke thought or seed learning.


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