Questioning - Surfing or Scuba Diving?
A workshop by Mary-Anne Murphy - Educational Facilitator
#ULearn08 - Christchurch.
Questioning is important because it helps us understand issues more deeply. It indicates that we have a level of curiosity about an issue and also helps to stimulate curiosity in others. Questioning promotes conversation and can take conversations to a new and deeper level. Questioning helps us to find an answer or address a curiousity... The importance of questioning is instictive in 2-3yr olds who start off life after establishing the words Mum, Dad, and various other vital labels, by asking "what's that?" and then deepening their questioning to ask "Why?"
The profile of a good questioner is someone who has a good level of curiosity and above all is prepared to take risks. They need a certain level of patience and persistance so that they are able to continue to ask their questions again and again until they are heard, or to be able to modify their questions so that they are understood.
The early years is a great time to encourage children's questioning. But it can also be a time that is so easy to discourage questioning. The 2yr old who asks "WHY?" until the only answer you can find is because if you believed in a God - is because God decided it would be so - may start to be ignored when asking questions.
So how do we encourage questioning in a manageable why for such young children? DO WE have to answer their questions with correct answers to encourage their questioning style - or at this particular age could this not lead rather to parents, teachers and caregivers going insane and resulting in a discouragement of questioning? Do they need us to have an answer to every question? What if we asked the children their ideas to the questions they ask? We might see some astonishing insights into the way our children see the world. Would it be better to correct their insights and theories or would we encourage a development of their questioning techniques if we let them work on their theories over time? I don't believe that we have to find and give the answers immediately. I believe it is much more fun to involve children in seeking the answers to their questions and I believe this would show children that we take their questions seriously and respect them for asking their questions.
Children do not always ask questions at times that suit our timetables, or home schedules. Maybe it would be good to have a place in our classrooms and homes where children can 'park' their questions. These questions can then be addressed over time and given the time to address them. This way we would be saying to children that we are listening and that there a no wrong/bad questions - they are all valid and together we can look for the answers.
What makes a good question?
Open ended question - one that requires more than one word answers
Takes you to another level, another question
Acknowledging that in certain context closed questions are important.
Inspiring and developing questioning... (activity)
Give the answer - " the answer is 'tree' - what is the question?"
child <-> adult <-> child <-> child
Maybe encourage the children to create our ICT survey?