Postman & Weingartner (1968, p. 23) noted:
Knowledge is produced in response to questions. And new knowledge results from the asking of new questions; quite often new questions about old questions. Here is the point: Once you have learned how to ask questions – relevant and appropriate and substantial questions – you have learned how to learn and no one can keep you from learning whatever you want or need to know. . . . The most important intellectual ability man has yet developed - the art and science of asking questions - is not taught in school! Moreover it is not "taught" in the most devastating way possible: by arranging the environment so that significant question asking is not valued.
In the news this week, a teacher may get fired because his students thought and acted independently?
More than 160 students in six different classes at Intermediate School 318 in the South Bronx – virtually the entire eighth grade – refused to take last Wednesday’s three-hour practice exam for next month’s statewide social studies test. Instead, the students handed in blank exams. Then they submitted signed petitions with a list of grievances to school Principal Maria Lopez and the Department of Education. . . . School administrators blamed the boycott on a 30-year-old probationary social studies teacher, Douglas Avella. . . . A few days later, in a reprimand letter, Lopez accused Avella of initiating the boycott and taking "actions [that] caused a riot at the school." . . . "They’re saying Mr. Avella made us do this," said Johnny Cruz, 15, another boycott leader. "They don’t think we have brains of our own, like we’re robots. We students wanted to make this statement. The school is oppressing us too much with all these tests."
The Question is the Answer http://tinyurl.com/6xl7yl
Kia Ora Scott.
“When the pupil is ready the master appears” is a well known Zen proverb that seems paradoxical and is often misunderstood.
Many decades ago, teachers were trained to ask questions in the classroom, a practice touted as a teaching technique.
I use this technique. But over the years I learnt that though this practice had some merit, pupils learnt more if they asked their own questions. The role of tutoring, so often claimed to be the action of the teacher, becomes the action of the pupil. When the pupil is ready the master appears.
The creation of a question followed by attempting to find an answer to it sets in motion learning mechanisms. Every good teacher knows this and respects the pupil who asks questions.
But when working among colleagues and asking questions at meetings and the like, teachers are rarely met with the same respect that’s given to their inquiring pupils.
I wonder if this is a cultural double standard among western educators that, through denial of asking questions, supresses the recognition of the need to foster this behaviour among pupils?
I love your zen master quote as well as your question.
My sense from being in schools a long time is that in some environments, teachers who are questioners are considered instigators or troublesome. I think it does depend on the environment in the school and the leadership and tone set though.
I just recently bought a book on Socratic questioning because I think that’s a skill that is hard to master as well. By questioning well, you can model for students the art of questioning and conversation, I think.
Looking forward to reading and sharing that.
I too have found that teachers can be labelled the same way through the simple act of asking (relevant) questions.
I will await with interest your post from your readings on Socratic questioning 😉