Question and Be Curious, But How? – Part I

One of the biggest challenges in education is in knowing how far you have to go to make sure all students learn what matters. Some skills are picked up by many quite readily. Other skills, not so much. For some things the profession has a wealth of precedent, other things not so much. Deciding how far you have to go is driven by experience, knowledge, assumptions, and the amount of time teachers have to think about it once all other important demands are dealt with.

Question and Be Curious is one of our KCS Habits, and all evidence says it’s a habit that matters. It’s no exaggeration to say that democracy, progress, and the understanding of all that happens are rooted in asking and seeking answers to questions, and doing both well. Learning to ask questions readily and well, however, is not easy for many. Sure, students learn the grammar behind asking questions, and goodness knows they get thorough immersion in being asked questions. But teaching the art of question-asking lies in an educational no-man’s-land. When and how are students taught to ask their own questions?

The widespread absence of an answer to that challenge occurred to me as I read the book Make Just One Change by Dan Rothstein and Luz Santana, based on the work of The Right Question Institute. To be fair, most teachers try in various ways to develop this skill, and many students pick it up, either readily or over time, to at least some degree. That being said, and despite pretty significant efforts, I haven’t seen a system that can directly develop this skill in all students that is more convincing than what’s shared in this book. Called the Question Formulation Technique, it immerses all students in asking questions, directly teaches students about them, and engages them in critical analysis of their questions in order to develop awareness of the suitability and relative value of questions. According to Rothstein and Santana, students who’ve gone through this exercise have found it transformational. While I haven’t yet experienced it, I’m convinced enough of its potential that I’m borrowing a class to try it out.

Does it work? Will it work for every student? If it does, what impact will this have on their learning? These are the questions I am asking. Stay tuned for Part II of Question and Be Curious for the outcome.

Andrea Fanjoy,
Assistant Head, Academics
You can follow Andrea on Twitter @afanjoy.

2 thoughts on “Question and Be Curious, But How? – Part I

  1. Awesome Andrea! This is what I love about KCS. Love your effort to constantly seek out new ideas and methods and actually follow through on testing them. Looking forward to your findings!

  2. Pingback: It Works! (Question and Be Curious, But How? – Part II) |

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