Why Our Students Must Learn the Art of Asking Good Questions
Asking good questions is a cornerstone of learning and living. It’s a practice we use every day. Everything from grocery shopping to choosing a new career path and beyond requires it. So much of our success in life depends on asking the right questions. In education, the benefits of asking good questions is immeasurable.
It lets us clearly define problems and expectations. Students’ research becomes more productive. They have better team communication. It lets them view challenges proactively. It encourages deeper reflection and better learning processes. Overall, there’s just no downside to it. So how do we actually do it?
Asking Good Questions is Tough—Sometimes
Well, that’s actually not really the case. Sure, it takes practice. What’s interesting is why it’s necessary. Keep in mind this is simply a case of human nature. The truth is, we don’t always understand each other. It’s not that we don’t communicate well enough with people. It’s just that everyone listens and hears differently.
This can be a challenge when you talk to a large group like teachers do. You won’t always speak in the order, speed, or detail that every student wants. Some will connect with your words and some won’t. It doesn’t constitute failure or disinterest on anyone’s part. It’s simply the way things are.
Teachers strive to ensure every student understands what’s expected. Differentiated learning can also mean differentiated listening. However, we’re also talking about learning ownership. It’s not reasonable to expect a teacher to give students the right questions, either. They must be able to form them on their own.
What can we do? We can encourage questioning skills in our students. We can teach them how to become stimulated to ask good questions. This also goes hand-in-hand with teaching good listening skills. Good questioners inherently become good listeners.
Go forth and question. Be a 3-year-old all over again. Love the discovery. Stay curious.Click to tweet
A good place to start is by reminding students what they already know. This will surprise some of them, and maybe even delight a few.
Inquiring Students Want to Know
It’s true that this will be harder for some students than others. Some are bold and aren’t afraid. Others are concerned about looking “dumb” or like “losers.” Some aren’t sure how to word their questions at all. These are things that we can help our students with.
The first thing students want to know is why is asking good questions important?
Students want to know why when it comes to their learning. They ask questions about their learning all the time. You’ve likely heard all these at some point:
- Why do I need to learn this?
- How will it help me in the future?
- What can I use this knowledge for in real life?
- How vital is it if I can Google it in 5 seconds or less?
This indicates students are already primed for asking good questions. They can be tough on teachers. We can guide them towards using that same scrutiny with their projects and research. They can apply it to any lesson in school or in life. It’s just a matter of reminding them they already have the know-how.
The Impact of Asking Good Questions
What are the benefits of students being able to ask good questions? That’s another good question. Wow, where do you start? The short answer is all benefit and no consequence. Ever heard the saying “there are no stupid questions?” It’s really true.
The impact of asking good questions is meaningful in both the short- and long-term. It’s like building a monument to success brick by brick. Asking good questions can:
- foster critical thinking skills
- boost self-confidence
- enhance creativity
- strengthen relationships/partnerships
- establish trust
- exercise your memory
- develop oral communication skills
- encourage good listening
- help you become invested in the problem
- encourage others to ask questions
- spark lively and productive discussions
- open your mind to other opinions/beliefs
- protect you from making mistakes
- make work more productive
- make solutions more effective
- lead you to new discoveries
- help you make better choices/decisions
The art of asking good questions isn’t lost. It never was. If we let our students know that, we’ve given them a great gift. They have permission to be curious and creative. They get to think and question in a way that helps them become better thinkers.