Don’t assume when you question.
I just had to post this.
The teacher and the taught
A young teacher from an industrial city in the north of England had accepted a temporary job teaching a class of four-year-olds out in one of the most isolated, rural parts of north Wales. One of her first lessons involved teaching the letter S so she held up a big colour photograph of a sheep and said: “Now, who can tell me what this is?”
No answer. Twenty blank and wordless faces looked back at her. “Come on, who can tell me what this is?” she exclaimed, tapping the photograph determinedly, unable to believe that the children were quite so ignorant. The 20 faces became apprehensive and even fearful as she continued to question them with mounting frustration.
Eventually, one brave soul put up a tiny, reluctant hand. “Yes!” she cried, waving the snap aloft. “Tell me what you think this is!” “Please, Miss,” said the boy warily. “Is it a three-year-old Border Leicester?”
Source: “Guardian”, 2 November 2005
I found it at http://www.rogerdarlington.me.uk/stories.html#Story53 where you will find many more stories to make you think.
It is a nice demonstration of understanding context when questioning, and it made me laugh!
Have you ever had an ‘unexpected’ answer to a question? If you have then you started with the question and not with the answer in mind. You may be asking what has been taught and not what is known or understood. Often learners have a much broader contextual map than we realise. Understanding this helps us form questions more effectively and stops learners feeling confused or ‘stupid’ because they have not made the same link as we have in our questioning. Had the teacher asked what animal she was holding up in the picture perhaps 20 young learners would have as one said “sheep”! There certainly would have been one delighted teacher if she had.