Questions are an intrinsic part of children’s learning as they seek to make sense of the world around them. This often starts with the toddler ‘why?’ questions as they attempt to deepen their understanding of something that has grabbed their attention. From what starts off as a simple question soon a lengthy discussion ensues with the adult participant desperately hoping that they can give this inquisitive young mind the answers that they are earnestly seeking and that they do not need to resort to the ‘it just is’ answer to halt this flow of curiosity.
Curiosity is a key disposition for effective learning and is one that is to be encouraged. In my visits to classrooms this week I have seen that the children’s curiosity is leading to them ask some great questions; not only about what they are studying, but also about what they want to find out in their learning. Children are also being encouraged to grapple with questions where there is not an immediately obvious answer. In an age where we all want immediate answers to questions, for instance through the power of internet searches, the ability to grapple with ideas to deepen understanding helps children to see that often there are many ways to tackle a problem and that some of these ways are better than others for solving the problem.
“To be, or not to be - that is the question.”
(The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark by William Shakespeare)
With Shakespeare’s birthday earlier this week may be we can draw something from Hamlet’s dilemma. Often, the knack is to know which question to ask. I am sure that many of us have felt frustrated when we get the answer of “nothing” or “not much” on the homeward journey when asking our children the question, “What have you done at school today?” I can tell you that the children will have always done lots!
So, maybe you might like to try asking your children some different questions and see what response you get. You may like to give these a go … “What have you learnt today?” or “What was the best question you asked today?” or even “What was the best mistake you made today?” Of course, all of these can be followed up with “Tell me more” or even “Why?” I would be interested to know how you get on.