When a Question Helps You Learn

The next time you get a “tricky” or interesting question – ask a question. When you ask a question in response to a question from a student or child, you create the opportunity to empower. When they are guided to focus on what they really mean – and practice proof of their concept – the more they practice and develop trust in their critical thinking skills. It is important to hold space for their response. Each child’s processing time is different and it is always better to give them more than less time to respond. Sometimes, they will be open to a lesson that is inspired by an outside influence (adult) but most often…the best thinking happens when their fire is sparked!

TELL ME MORE Questions help develop precision about their thoughts. Samples might be:

  • Tell me more about that…
  • What does that mean?
  • What do we know about this? Do you have an example?

PROBING ASSUMPTIONS & EVIDENCE Questions intend to create some doubts about their presumptions or biases:

  • Tell me why you think that…
  • Do you have an example/proof?
  • What would happen if we (did an opposite, posed a disagreement, or made a “silly” outcome)

VIEWPOINT Questions intend to provoke the possibility that there are other sides to the story:

  • Do you think there is another way to see this?
  • What are the positives and/or negatives? Are there good or bad things about…?
  • What do you think a person who disagrees say?

PROBING CONSEQUENCES Questions help to forecast and to rationalize:

  • What do you think would happen?
  • Would this affect someone?
  • Why do you think this is important?

TURNING THE QUESTION Questions puts things back in their processing and help guide you toward the information that will answer their question to meet their needs:

  • What do you want to know?
  • What do you think?
  • Who else might help us answer this?

However, your questions are not just a distraction to the question – and we know there are many many questions each day! Your questions should have some anchors, such as:

  • Staying on the topic
  • Only keep the discussion going, as long as they are engaged
  • To help them see what they resolve in the questioning

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