So often, the best inquiry smacks you right in the face and you don’t even see it coming. When we do the “teacher thing” we often crush the inquiry before it even has time to take its first wobbly steps. In fact, we probably do this several times a day:
Teacher: “Class, today we will be talking about BLAH!”
Student: “I have a question.”
Teacher: “Go ahead.”
Student: “Well I know we’re studying BLAH but my question is about…”
Teacher: “Let me stop you right there and destroy your curiosity. If you aren’t going to ask me about BLAH then we don’t have time to talk about it. Take your inquiry and your engagement somewhere else.”
Student: “Oh, right. This is school. We don’t get to do anything cool here.”
And thus another student question dies a silent death. The flickering flame of curiosity is snuffed out before it can become a wildfire of inquiry. Bummer.
Once your inquiry radar becomes sufficiently calibrated, you’ll recognize this moment for what it really is; the possible jumping off point for some serious student learning. I’m still working on the calibration, by the way. I caught myself doing almost this exact thing just today!
This kind of inquiry is very, very difficult to prepare for. It’s even more challenging to facilitate effectively. It’s also the most fun you’ll ever have as a teacher. By far.