You Were Born to Question
If you are a parent of a school going child, you may well have asked the question, “What did you learn today?”
Even as a teacher and facilitator I have asked this.
But how many times have you asked, “What questions did you ask today?” I agree with Angelo Ciardiello that most of us probably don’t ask this often, if at all.
Your success is determined by how well you have answered test or exam questions.
We live in a society driven by providing answers, starting at school where good performance in tests and exams is deemed the way to success. Thus, the skill of answering a test or exam question is honed from a young age.
As a child you asked an average of 100 questions per day.
How many questions do you ask as an adult? Some research places the figure as low as 6 questions per day for the average adult. And this does not specify what type of question – a simple recollection of fact or a real probing question.
What happens to our desire and ability to question?
You may well be familiar with this scenario: a frazzled parent trying to get by and still being bombarded with hundreds of questions from a toddler. Sound familiar?
Children soon realise that questions provoke frustration and impatience in the parent, learning quickly to tone down and subdue their natural curiosity. This continues at school where frustrated teachers behave the same way parents do.
In addition, teachers themselves, apart from not encouraging questions, provide a poor model of questioning. Research shows that both teachers and training facilitators ask mainly lower order questions.
We are dumbed down
And so, the perpetual cycle of poor questioning leads to a dumbing down of society – the inability to generate new ideas, find solutions and innovate – all required skills for the 21st century.
How will we create, innovate and solve problems if we are not able to ask probing, stimulating questions?
In the 2017 Creativity Crisis Study, Professor KH Kim found that the ability of Americans to
demonstrate fluid, original thinking has declined significantly since 2000 (see Figure 1)
Self-directed learning requires good questioning skills
When students fail at university, it is largely because they have not learnt how to question. The self-directed learning approach at universities requires students to become problem solvers and researchers – requiring good questioning skills.
We've seen that good questions are not being modeled by teachers. Furthermore, children generally have their curiosity and desire to question ‘discouraged’ out of them.
FaceBoard has a solution for this.
The open source game (JAMBED) creation framework provides a structured approach for the generation of diverse types of questions. Thus, not only can learning facilitators create sets of good questions on their specific content, learners can do the same; giving them an opportunity in a relaxed, playful, game environment to formulate questions, consider what would be the appropriate response or research the response they think they would like.
If you have ever set a test or exam, you will agree that the person who learns the most is the one who has set the test and drawn up the memo. What better then to have learners work in teams, using structured questioning prompts to create sets of questions on their chosen content and then use them in play?
Sources and further reading:
Chouinard. MM, Harris. L and Maratsos. M. (2007). Children's Questions: A Mechanism for Cognitive Development. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development. 72 (1), pp. i, v, vii-ix, 1-129.
Ciardiello, AV. (Nov 1998). Did You Ask a Good Question Today? Alternative Cognitive and Metacognitive Strategies. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy. Vol. 42 (3), pp. 210-219.
Elsworthy, E. (2017). Curious children ask 73 questions each day - many of which parents can't answer, says study. Available: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/curious-children-questions-parenting-mum-dad-google-answers-inquisitive-argos-toddlers-chad-valley-a8089821.html.
Potter. A (2017). 13 Essential 21st Century Skills for Today’s Students. Available: https://www.envisionexperience.com/blog/13-essential-21st-century-skills-for-todays-students.
Thomas, D and Brown, JS. (2011). A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change. Available: http://www.newcultureoflearning.com/newcultureoflearning.pdf.