Teacher MOT: Question-friendly classrooms

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By Huw Thomasheadteacher and writer

One of the vital skills of teaching is that of nurturing questioning – and making sure quantity is matched by quality

Group of teachers

The important thing,’ Albert Einstein once said, ‘is not to stop questioning.’

There can be few finer accolades in a primary classroom than ‘Good question’ and we need to encourage children to ask them and not leave it to their teachers. This month’s ‘Teacher MOT’ article reminds us to start the questioning process at a personal level. Encouraging children to ask each other what they did at the weekend, how they are feeling today, about any special events taking place in their lives, and so on.

Involve the class in collecting some good examples of questions that generate interesting answers. Questions such as: What are the three best things about school? or Where will we be in 15 years? can act as great time fillers.

When the teacher doesn’t know

Model questioning by honestly asking questions to which you don’t know the answer or philosophy-style questions with no right or wrong answer. Children enjoy being partners in speculation. Questions such as: I wonder how many bars of chocolate you could fit in the school hall? or What would happen if you fell through a hole that ran straight through the Earth? are sure to generate interesting discussions in your class. (Search our online archive for philosophy resources for more quirky questions to help boost questioning and thinking skills.)

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