How Many Questions A Month Do You Ask?

Over on the website Big Think, there’s a very interesting post about the importance of asking questions:

Asking questions is essential to learning. That was an essential lesson from one of history’s first great teachers, Socrates. Or, as the wise Rabbi Steven Greenberg puts it: ‘We train children at the Passover seder to ask why, because tyrants are undone and liberty is won with a good question.’

And yet, children are not asking questions nearly enough. In fact, data from the U.S. school systems tells us that the average high school student asks one question of substance per month in a classroom.

This is particularly alarming if we consider the skill set that is required for success in the coming decades. Hal Gregersen, the co-author along with Clayton Christensen of the recent book The Innovator’s DNA, tells Big Think that the world we’re entering over ‘the next five, ten, fifteen, twenty years—I can’t imagine it being easier, simpler, less uncertain than what we’re living in today.”

So what is the best way to ‘unlock the solutions to that wild terrain,’ as Gregersen puts it? ‘We need to build this capacity in ourselves and the people around us to ask the right question.’” (Read more here.)

My attention was caught by that figure, of course: “The average high school student asks one question of substance per month in a classroom.” How was this fact ascertained? Behind the word “average,” does this mean that a few students are asking lots of questions, and most are asking none? What would a similar figure look like for the workplace? Following Gregersen’s advice, I have lots of questions . . .

5 Responses to “How Many Questions A Month Do You Ask?”

  1. Some students are very happy to never inquire or respond in class. Teachers need to communicate deliberately with all students.

  2. Shawn says:

    I am a music teacher in a public school and I always encourage questions from my kids. I ask them a lot of questions as well to get them thinking. Questions naturally arise as I don’t reveal all of the information up front form them. This will usually generate their interest and they will start coming up with their own ideas and questions as we talk about the topic of the day and I can refine their understanding as we go along. This does not always work though. A lot of times, the kids will just stare at me and expect me to just give them all of the information like I suppose it goes in most of the rest of their classes.
    Thank you for bringing this up. I think people just need to be more genuinely inquisitive all of the time.

  3. Annemarie Harris says:

    Early childhood educators and classrooms could provide some guidance. It feels like young children ask 50 questions a day! In a high quality ece setting, children’s curiosity and inquiry practice is encouraged and supported. How great if high school & higher ed staff went back to preschool to learn and model best practice in their classrooms!

  4. I’m a firm believer in teaching students how to ask good higher-order thinking questions. There is too much focus on teacher questions in strategies for implementing Bloom’s taxonomy of learning.

  5. I teach middle school students. I noticed that students rarely ask these type of questions because asking questions is an inquiry skill that needs to be taught. Do we model this as teachers? Do we model this enough? What kind of discourse are we exposing them to?
    Asking questions comes from a deep curiosity and need to know, to discover. It also stems from the “confusion” that is sometimes deliberately “planned” by the teacher. It comes from doing more investigations as opposed to problem solving.
    Additionally, it is a skill that stems from understanding that things might not be what they seem and that one perspective is not enough.

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