The Skill of Questioning

This past summer, per a recommendation of Moss Pike, I read A More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger.

The book describes the importance and value of questioning and how inquiry can lead to innovation and breakthrough. In a sense, Berger argues that we need less of skill ideology and more of good questioning. His book is replete of examples from the business world of how questioning can make a huge difference 21st century companies.

As I read the book, it was painfully clear that questioning would have to be essential for my future growth as a teacher. I have tried many times to have good class discussions, usually with little or no success. I had heard that having students come up with discussion questions would increase student engagement. This did work–with some success–but I found that the students’ questions did not meet my level of expectations. Berger deals with this very issue, because he enumerates a step-by-step process on how to get students to create and develop good questions. Essentially, students create questions, choose the best ones, and improve them.

I started using this process with class discussions and driving questions in Project-Based-Learning. It has already been very successful. The process has led to much better focus during project time and higher engagements during discussions. The students have done two things: take ownership of the learning process and create really good questions. One question the class developed for the novel Johnny Tremain was, “Do you think Johnny [who is an orphan adopted by a silversmith family] longs to have a real family?” I would have never created this on my own, nor would I have been inspired by it. However, this question led to a great discussion, which wouldn’t have happened with a question I had created.

I can’t do this book justice. Get it. Buy it. Read it.

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