Feel Free to Question This

July 9, 2013

“He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever.” – Chinese proverb

It can be tough for kids to ask questions in a classroom. In an educational system that’s often focused on students getting the right answers, when they ask questions sometimes they do feel like a fool, as the proverb says.

But asking questions is the key to all knowledge. What if Newton had never asked why the apple fell on his head? And in education, study after study shows that when students learn to ask the right questions, they build critical thinking skills. Questioning helps students discover their own learning gaps (which doubles as valuable feedback for educators) and connect to the information that’s the most meaningful to them.

As an educator, you can foster a “question-friendly” atmosphere in the classroom, guiding students to ask the questions that most encourage critical thinking. Here are three strategies to encourage critical thinking through questioning:

1. Model questions yourself. When teaching, ask critical-thinking questions. This means going beyond factual questions (“What is a myth?”) and moving towards deeper thinking (“What are the differences between a myth and a legend?”).

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