We all have them in our classrooms. Those voices that are constantly asking questions. They ask questions like: ‘What are we doing next? Why are we doing this? How should be do it? When will we be able to move onto the next step? What if…?’ Sometimes these questions can be overwhelming and you wish that they would be silent. If they would simply quieten down and not ask so many questions you think we could easily move through ‘the plan’. Thoughts like this can be tempting, however, as my dad always says “It’s a child’s job to ask questions. If they stop asking questions you know you’re in trouble”. This is a simple truth that I think is often forgotten in schools. In order to maintain calm and order, we like students to quietly comply with our plan for them and simply accept the status quo. “This is what you have to learn and this is how we are going to do it.”
Are these really traits we want in our students? Acceptance and apathy in regards to what they are learning and their education? I know I don’t want that for them. I want to help my students learn how to question the process but do so in a meaningful and constructive manner. I want them to ask questions about what they are learning because it needs to be relevant to them. As their teacher I need to help them see why it is important to learn certain things even if they can be a bit boring and tedious at times. I use their questions about their learning, to question why I am doing what I am doing and what purpose it has. If I do not have a good answer as to why we are doing something a certain way, I need to stop and think critically about what I am doing. Each and every one of these questions help me become a better teacher. And I hope it helps my students become critical thinkers who will never stop asking questions and hopefully help them fearlessly change the world.
So next time one of your dissident voices asks a question, listen closely to what they are saying and help them begin to see their world differently.