“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” -Carl Sagan
As an educator I always understood how important asking questions, especially why question was in the classroom. I believe asking questions empowers students to learn and encourages growth. In my classroom, it was an expectation as the students knew I was going to ask why. They were used to hearing me no matter what the subject was ask why. Why did you multiply instead of divide in that word problem? Why do you think the grass caused friction? They knew no matter if they got the problem ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ I was going to ask them to explain their thinking.
This week, while spending time in classrooms with students one-on-one, I was asking the students why when they answered questions. It was amazing to see their reactions. Some students looked at me and said ‘I just know’ while others students immediately thought they got their answer wrong so they changed their answers. When I pushed on, continuing to ask why no matter what they said it was remarkable to watch their minds turning.
This made me become conscious of how important asking why questions all the time really is. If you stop and think about it, asking why questions make us investigate; it is what conveys change in our world. We, as educators, need to ask more why questions when students answer so the students can explain their thinking. With this being said, we also need to give them the wait time for them to formulate their thoughts. Explaining their thinking no matter right or wrong is beneficial to see either that the student has a true understanding of the concept or if they have a misconception. This also forces the student to rationalize and critical think about their answers, which is an important 21st century skill that students need to know.
Below are a few articles about questioning in the classroom. As an educator, ask yourself, do I ask ‘why’ enough in my classroom? If not, try asking why this week and see what happens.