I love questions! Not the one right answer kind of questions, but the kind that tickle your brain and keep you thinking in search of possibilities. The kind that operate right at the edge of confusion.
I love questions in my classroom and in my own learning. Some of my favorite questions are, “How do you know that?” “Why do you think that?” “What do you think?” and “What do you notice?” Sometimes a question as simple as, “What do you think?” can open up rich avenues of conversation.
I think the key to good questions is being interested in the answers. If you ask but really don’t want to know the answer, then you might as well not ask. Taking the time to listen is key to the value of questions.
As I was facilitating student-parent-teacher conferences today, I heard some parents who use questions in powerful ways with their children. I loved the mom who explained how she responds to her son’s questions about spelling with, “How do you think it’s spelled?” and then engages in a conversation about what the child understands about the spelling of the word. The parents who ask genuine questions and listen for their child’s response create opportunities for learning.
Figuring out how to ask questions that you are curious about…those right at the point of your own confusion…can be a catalyst for your own learning. I love when students ask the question that suddenly gives me insight and clarity into my own teaching and learning. And I know when I can actually verbalize what is confusing me, and ask the question, that I will make progress in my learning.
Sometimes questions can involve some heavy lifting…figuring out what is confusing, which questions to ask, and how to respond to the questions of others. I love this image I found on a utility box in Oakland, CA–be sure to bend and lift those questions with your legs, not your back!