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She was a student in my class for the last two years. Bright and intelligent she was able to persist when confronting difficulties and enrich her learning opportunities with questions where needed.

Recently, when interviewed by an outsider around the theme of student's questioning, she quietly and reflectively shared some regrets. She explained that concepts in her class were taught in many different ways over and over which helped with her understanding. “My teacher goes over stuff again and again so I don’t need to ask questions. The questions are answered before I ask them.” She continued almost to herself, “I enjoy asking questions before I’m told the answer.” It was interesting to note that a Year 5 student participating in the discussion recognised the power of problem posing stating, “Sometimes asking the question can provide a prompt to answering your own question.”

In an age emphasising explicit teaching, demanding curriculum outcomes and a time when 'learning intentions' are clearly and unequivocally prescribed on a whiteboard prior to the lesson, it is easy to loose sight of the significance of student led learning. Rothstein (2011) of The RIght Question Institute describe empowering people to ask questions as fundamental to democracy.     

Over this break I'll do some thinking. I'll be asking myself a few questions and be sure to head into the new year with some ideas about shaping a democratic community of students who are empowered and provided with opportunity to ask their own questions as a starting place for enriched learning.


Bonnie
6/1/2013 15:51:41

People only ask questions when things interest them. Shouldn't be force fed information that appears irrelevant... it won't stay with them for long... clear example for me is the pushing of trigonometry at school... had no interest in it as it was presented poorly and therefore asked nothing about it and to this day, KNOW nothing about it other than how to spell it! Had greater interest in spelling!

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Jeff Jackson
6/1/2013 16:47:48

Sounds like you came to spelling with your own interest raising questions.

A teacher working with kids in a lower socio economic community expressed concern to me once commenting, "What scares my most is the kids coming to school at the moment are just not asking questions."

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