Education Is Not About Answers

Questions and Answers

In the grand scheme of education, the focus is almost exclusively on answers. Teachers teach students how to get answers. Students repeat those answers on homework and tests and more tests. Report card grades and test scores provide reassurance that the proper answers have been received and tallied.

This is the natural flow of education and has been for over 300 years since the first public school appeared in the United States. Whether the innate desire for correct answers originated with the advent of public education or was the result of the evolution of American culture is more of a chicken-and-egg question. No doubt that the need to have answers and to have the right answers is part-and-parcel of daily life anymore.

This is not inherently a bad thing, unless the focus on answers overshadows the true need to keep asking questions.

Energy is in the questions.

Questions arise because people are curious… either answers are not available or new answers prompt more questions… which encourage the search for more answers. Curiosity inspires a never-ending cycle of investigation. We need to do a better job of inspiring our students to be curious.

We give them too many answers… usually too quickly. We seldom ask them enough real questions… the kind that make them think long and hard… the ones that require more than a 5-second thought process… the questions that take them to the edge of what they already know and challenge them to assemble multiple ideas or facts to create a solution. In the grand scheme of education, we just don’t do this.

But the energy is in the questions not the answers. Because questions make people curious.

The Goal: Create Thinkers / Doer’s / Problem-Solvers

The ultimate goal in education is to set students on the path of lifelong learning. If that will happen, we must inspire their curiosity. To inspire is to “give breath”… we must breathe life into students… a lofty goal.

How do we do that? How do we spark curiosity in students?

Ask them questions… but  not the same ones we’ve been asking for so long. We need to ask students new questions.

But wait! There are requirements to meet. State standards. Common core standards. Content standards. There are prescribed rubrics and materials and information and facts that must be disseminated to young minds. There is no room for new questions. There is no room for change. There is no time.

Hold on. It’s not about throwing everything out and starting over. It’s a matter of starting fresh.

Teachers and admins have rules that must be followed. Agreed. And there is little room to deviate from those rules. Agreed. But we can rejuvenate the HOW of following those rules.

We must rework the questions… to ask them in such a way that energizes students and ignites their curiosity. When we do this, we will create thinkers and doer’s and problem-solvers. We will set students on a higher path of possibility that leads to lifelong learning and ultimately, lifelong success.

This means more work on the part of teachers and admins. We have to ramp up our own learning and curiosity. We must become more creatively confident and think about how to reach our consumers: our students. We must problem-solve our own questions and find some new answers that we can share with the young minds entrusted to our care.

How will you choose to do more?

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Look forward to hearing from you!