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.
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.