Encouraging Students to Question

One's first step in wisdom is to question everything - and one's last is to come to terms with everything.
                                                                      Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742 - 1799)

Parents ask how they can enhance the education of their students at home. Teachers ask how they can help gifted students in the classroom. Teaching children good questioning techniques is one of the many ways to address these dilemmas.

When children first start school, adults ask the questions and pose problems. Over time, we want to shift to students asking questions and finding problems for themselves. Questions should also become more complex as young people grow. “What evidence do you have...?” or “How do you know that’s true?” or “What do you think would happen if…?” or “If that is true, then what might happen if...?”

Children should look at their environment and inquire. “Why do frogs croak?” “How high can a bird fly?” “What use is the hair on my arms?” “How can we stem pollution?”

When going out on an errand or a vacation or a field trip together, query young people with “What questions will you ask yourself?” “What do you wonder about?” “What more could you learn about...?”

From Now On: The Educational Technology Journal, offers an online Questioning Toolkit that contains several dozen kinds of questions and questioning tools that can be used with students K-12. Teachers will find many concrete ideas here for teaching questioning techniques.

Parents can always modify classroom suggestions for use at home. Never feel that it is just the school's responsibility to teach children. Parents play the major role in developing the minds of young people.

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