What was a good question you asked today? Says the mom.
Our goal today is for the class to ask three "umm" questions. Says the teacher.
Learning is about the questions you ask, not about the facts you have memorized.
What are "umm" questions? "Umm," questions are questions that make the teacher go, "umm, that's a good question." "Umm," questions show that students are thinking deeply about the topic. "Umm," questions are tough to answer and sometimes take the class off track (those darn pacing guides).
If you have ever been around a toddler or preschool-aged child, then it is very likely you have been barraged with a plethora of questions. They are so curious. Yet as a middle school teacher, I have noticed that curiosity seems to have disappeared (at least during class). Where did the wonder at the world go? IMO the world (school) has beaten the questions out.
"Don't ask questions — that was the first rule for a quiet life with the Dursleys."
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Teachers often are like the Durselys. The reasons include but are not limited to staying on pace with district expectations, preparing for the end-of-year exams, and the fear of the room devolving into a lord of the flies type anarchy.
In a world of Google and Siri, students (all of us really) need to do more than memorize facts. The facts are at our fingertips.
"My investment of time, as an educator, in my judgment, is best served teaching people how to think about the world around them. Teach them how to pose a question. How to judge whether one thing is true versus the other."
– Neil deGrasse Tyson
What are you doing to encourage your kids (either personal or students) to ask more "umm," questions? Are you asking "umm," questions yourself?
Like the mom, instead of asking, what did you do today, try asking what is a good question you asked in class.
Like the teacher give at the start of class, give your students an "umm" question goal. And don't let those good questions fall by the wayside. Be okay with giving time to "get off task".
"It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question."
– Eugene Ionesco.
"It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want—oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heartache, you want it so!"
― Mark Twain
"Do you remember the Shire, Mr. Frodo? It'll be spring soon. And the orchards will be in blossom. And the birds will be nesting in the hazel thicket. And they'll be sowing the summer barley in the lower fields... and eating the first of the strawberries with cream. Do you remember the taste of strawberries?"
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King
I love transitional seasons. Being born in April, I think I am hard-wired to love spring (with fall being a close second). Granted, it won't officially be spring for another two weeks(Spring Equinox); I can feel it coming. In the Christian/ western tradition, spring equals new beginnings, rebirth, and nature's awakening.
Personally, it is easier for me to wake up in the mornings, to get outdoors for a dose of sun, and to stay up later; I feel more productive.
I guess the Turkish Ministry of Education agrees with me. Monday, all grades will start back to in-person school. I will teach in the classroom two days a week (hybrid model). More than 50% of the students have signed up for in-person learning (it has been a year since they have been in the classroom). As I am sure many of you know there are still many unanswered questions, and there will be many issues that arise as we start.
As many reach the first anniversary of this modern Pandemic, remember to wash your hands well and often, wear your mask correctly, and watch for SCIENTIFIC updates.
A teacher from the United States of America, currently teaching abroad. I teach science to middle and high school students. I enjoy reading and doing nerd things.