By: Sarah Luebbert
- Denis Dubay in "Letting Students Ask The Questions- and Answer Them."
When the idea of school was first brought to light about three hundred years ago, it focused students learning on three things: good handwriting, the ability to read, and the skill of doing addition, subtraction, multiplication and division in their head. Teachers told students how to do this and then they simply copied what the teacher had just done. This was the definition of teaching, as well as learning. There was never room for the self-discovery of an answer or what some researchers now call self- learning. At the TED2013 conference SugataMitra talks about Self Organized Learning Environments (SOLE), he says, “Schools produced identical copies of students, so much so that you could pick one up in New Zealand and drop them down in Canada and they would be instantly functioning. This system is so robust that it is still with us today.” The question is, are the students really learning?
The new and very important emergence of self-learning is changing the world of education as we know it. You can find examples of this here and here. Learning is a journey. It encompasses a broad spectrum of concerns, issues, and topics, rather than just a set of facts. Way to often teachers simply give students the answers without asking any questions. One thing that needs to be looked at more deeply is the idea that people learn most effectively when they are trying to answer their own question.When students have the ability to start asking their own questions, they feel more pride in their education and learning. It allows them to accumulate an understanding of the material, as well as create internal networks and connections on there own.
So, where do the teachers come in? They are there for guidance. They are the ones who create the natural critical learning environment. (Bain, 2004) Bain also points out that teachers do this with lectures, discussions, case studies, role playing, and even field work depending on the learning objectives. Students need to learn how to tackle authentic and intriguing questions and tasks, to make decisions, to defend their choices, to come up short, to receive feedback on their efforts, and to try again. When questions, issues, or topics are authentic, in that the students came up with the questions on their own, they seem more important and the students are more willing to undertake them. So, how do we get our students to start asking questions, well that is an entirely different feat, but this may help you out.
Bain, K. (2004). What the best college teachers do. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.