Why do teachers ask questions?
Do you ask your students questions? Do you ask yourself questions? Is this an important part of the teaching and learning process? Why? These are the first questions we want to explore in this series of posts.
Research has shown that asking questions is a very important tool in developing problem solving and critical thinking skills, both of which are highly valued outcomes of education. But why is this the case? It is interesting to note that Jesus also used a teaching technique of asking questions in response to questions from others! In fact, there are very few examples of Jesus answering a direct question. Why did He do this? Was He interested in providing answers to their (sometimes ignorant) questions? Or was He interested in helping them clarify their thinking and become truly engaged with His teaching?
Ask yourself “Why do I ask questions? Is it to clarify a problem, to create interest in a topic, to deepen the level of thinking or to connect or contrast related concepts?” Hopefully we as teachers ask questions for all of those reasons and more. What are other reasons that you ask questions? Are your reasons for asking each question clear to your students? Do students expect you to answer the question for them or are you purposefully providing the time and support for them to struggle with the answers? Are you teaching them to ask useful and critical questions? How are your students progressing in their ability to ask questions and why are they progressing or not progressing? Am I asking too many questions? (That’s not a fair question… sorry.)
These are the types of questions we need to be asking ourselves as teachers! Where are you in this process? Can you clarify your current use of questions and why you are at this point? Comment on these questions below and we will continue our discussion soon!