Questioning is a skill. Asking lots of questions helps paint a more complete picture. There are no stupid questions, as such, but what you ask determines the answer you get. I know these because I worked as a data analyst developing systems including Business Intelligence software – all that stuff about Data Warehousing and Data Mining, drilling down, blah blah. BI is all about asking questions. If I were to define what BI is about, it is actually as a question, “What do you want to know?”. That is, BI answers what you want to know.
It is important to highlight, too, that questioning means a line of inquiry. It is not just one question. You go deeper or broader. Still on BI, for example, just asking about sales volume may not reveal loss in profit due to heavy discounting.
So what does this have to do with education? It boils down to encouraging and teaching questioning skills. If you’re reading this blog at all I am sure you already believe inquiry is important. This blog is rich with relevant ideas. Naini’s post on using key words and PYP is an excellent example. Rather than re-hash ideas, I propose another (apologies if this has been suggested already; to be honest, I haven’t read all posts in this blog).
Give students facts. That’s right, give the facts to them. However, rather than facts being the ‘ends’, they will be the ‘starts’ and questioning will be the ‘means’ to gather more facts (in my mind, there’s no point asking questions without the intent to pursue answers – whether or not these exist at all or yet).
What questions can you think of given these facts?
- at the time of dinosaurs, the day was only 23 hours long
- black holes are not holes; they are the densest concentration of mass in the universe
- In 2005 the Ashden Award for Sustainable Energy was given to a Rwandan prison that used the methane from human feces to fuel cooking stoves
- Pencils can write in zero gravity (as an aside, if you haven’t yet, drop by the #pencilchat on Twitter and this is how it began)
- The trigger of death, in all cases, is lack of oxygen
I’m tempted to add “1 + 1 = 2” and if your line of inquiry does not include “when is that not true?”, then you do not have a complete picture which, by the way, gives relevance to some higher mathematics and credence to post-modernism …..but I digress perhaps.
There is no shortage of facts around; curriculum content is full of them. All of the above, apart form the 1+1, are from Discover Magazine – 20 Things you didn’t know about….