Apr 30, 2013

Questions & "Starts"

Questions are places in your mind where answers fit. If you haven’t asked the question, the answer has nowhere to go. It hits your mind and bounces right off. You have to ask the question – you have to want to know – in order to open up the space for the answer to fit.” Clayton Christensen via Jason Fried

Combine that with Grant Wiggins' Beginnings, and their educational importance.

How good are our "starts"? Do our units start with kid questions enough? Is starting with a challenge as good?


Sara said...

"I wonder why we insist on writing on the board what we are going to teach for the day rather than what question we are going to help students answer with today’s learning. One seems stagnant and dull while the question sparks curiosity and motivation to learn something new."

- Richard Fanning
Spring Forest Middle School
Houston, TX

Sara said...

Drawing additional connections from Wiggins:

"Yet far too many textbook-based courses...start abruptly – rudely – by taking no questions nor addressing our hopes and fears...No map, no pep talk, no orientation to where we are headed and why it might be worth our while – just start walking (and trust us)."

to Friedman:

"Your specific contribution will define your specific benefits much more. Just showing up will not cut it."

Where and how are we providing students opportunities to invest in their own learning, and in ways that build their capacity to contribute?

Joy Kirr said...

I like it!
Yes, we NEED to ask questions. No, strike that. Students NEED to ask questions along with us. I like what Jason Fried said: "Questions are your mind’s receptors for answers. If you aren’t curious enough to want to know why, to want to ask questions, then you’re not making the room in your mind for answers." I hadn't thought of that, either. We need to share this with students and adults alike. Once we stop asking questions, we may develop a "Who cares?" attitude. And that's the type of person I don't want to be. Grant Wiggins asks the question, "How DO you begin?" And I question how I begin each and every day...

Karen J said...

@Sara (or is it Richard) - Wiggins is so right about how abruptly some courses begin - "chapter one" - following some road map that they are privy to (but the students is left out of). Thinking sometimes instructors forget what it was like not to have the knowledge - they know where they are going, the highlights and lowlights of the trip. They forget to share with the learner. I wonder if made aware of that lack of knowledge (easy to do in a technology related training for most) if we could prompt them to change their practice...

Clay's thinking is nothing short of awesome! Terrific! Brilliant! I think about how many questions I ask in a day. Some of them remain unanswered for days, weeks, years. Others, obviously because of need or importance (job related) ;-) I work to resolve as quickly as I can! I think that my questions are the spark that keep me going! I still ask questions about the landscape, the towns, etc. when on driving trips. the difference is that i am now driving my husband crazy instead of my parents. One day, when I retire, I'm looking forward to answering those questions that have been out there for years! ;-) My goal is to always have plenty of receptors!

Onto Wiggins... I often wonder how much more I could get out of something if I spent more time preparing. Grant makes the case that we ask questions (and get answers) before embarking on personal journeys. I find that I tend to only half ask and answer before heading out! So, when I get there, I probably miss a lot that I could have experienced because I didn't know any better. I have a fine time, non-the-less, but often wonder how great it could have been... Guess I'm just an explorer.

As Grant as teachers to ponder, I think some courses would look different if teachers had to "sell" them to their students!

asmi faraz said...

This is a thread that touched my heart.Why?
Well because as a child I used to ask alot of questions from teachers,parents alike.I earned names for that but I always wanted to know and get rid of what confusions I had in my mind.But I believe adults always got irritated when they were questioned.I excelled academically though but always had people telling me " You ask alot of questions!"
Since then I promised to myself that I will always welcome and satisfy the queries that my students or my children will have.I have beared the pain,the restlessness a questioning mind has unless it is calmed with a soothing reply.I will never let anyone else to suffer!
I am a firm believer that questions are teachers themselves. People ask questions because they are thinking,weighing,analysing.....what more we want half the job is done.As teachers we can be trainers to focus and channelize students questions so as to bring them to solutions that will stay with them for a lifetime because its the product of their own thinking.
So please don't be afraid of questions from your children and students alike, they might open doors to enhance your own knowledge and broaden your perspective.
Have I been able to help someone change oneself today?
Just a question :)

Sahab Faraz
Mathematics teacher and
Educational leadership and management student