For some time now, I have been discussing with teachers the fact that, by the time they reach secondary school, most young people have stopped asking information-seeking questions, and have resigned themselves to simply trying their best to answer them. In fact the whole business of developing the habit in young people of asking questions is so vital that it is one of my Seven Reading Strategies for reading success. I am therefore very grateful to Richard Byrne of the amazing Free Technology for Teachers website, for the link on Twitter earlier this week to this TED talk by Dan Meyer, who is a high school maths teacher in the USA. In a way that I’m sure most teachers will recognise, Meyer explores the notion that young people have been switched off maths in particular, and learning in general, because we are providing too many of the answers for them.
Look out for an extended version of this blogpost, on the importance of questions in the classroom, appearing in TES Scotland in the near future. In the meantime, if you are looking for effective questions to stimulate classroom discussion and questioning, try these links.
Fermi Questions – named after the Nobel Prize-winning Italian physicist Enrico Fermi, who was well known for solving problems which left others baffled.
Little Book of Thunks – a great source of questions to stimulate thinking and discussion.
Philosophy for Kids – ideas to generate discussion and critical thinking.
The Critical Thinking Community – where teachers can learn about the development of critical thinking skills.