Yes – I question God. I ask God, “Why?” I ask God, “What does this mean?” I ask God, “Where do I go from here?” I ask God lots of questions. From my reading of the Bible, God does not mind us asking him questions. Even Jesus asked questions, and Jesus answered questions.
Inquiry – it is the beginning of learning. When we ask a question, we usually go on to seek an answer. Good schools and classrooms incorporate inquiry. Teachers pose questions. Students ask questions. Questioning leads to research; a search for answers begins. Discussions arise based on inquiry. Inquiry builds engagement and motivation.
When I was a teacher, I usually began lessons with a question. In reading, we would start with a question. In math, we would start with a question. In science, we learned that scientists usually begin their work with a question. In social studies, we question things that are happening. How can we use a question to build knowledge and discernment?
The first day I posted a question we would discuss that question and predict a solution or answer. Then we would begin a foundation of learning, a search for the answer. (Usually there was no ONE answer, but many answers.) In the days to follow, each day we would review the question. Next, we would remind ourselves what we had learned so far. Then we would continue our foundation of learning in search of ways to find out what we wanted to know. At the end of the lesson, we would discuss our work and things we had learned based on the question presented.
One thing we learned is that one question can lead to many questions. Students are allowed to ask those questions. Some go on to explore a question that stems from the “big” question. Reporting back to the group aids in extending the knowledge of the classroom.
Inquiry and questioning are important. Just as questioning is important for students in a classroom, questioning is important for teachers and staff. Questioning should not be seen as a negative response to an initiative. Questioning should be seen as a search for knowledge, a way to build understanding – and to determine is this really what we want for our school and children. It comes down to culture. When you allow this type of culture, it motivates teachers to seek answers and to reflect on their teaching. If administrators don’t allow questioning – but do tell and check – this can lead to poor relationships, a one size fits all approach for teachers and students, a stress filled environment, poor test scores…
Lately, I have become interested in professional development that stems from inquiry. What does the teacher feel he/she needs to improve the classroom experience? How do we provide a variety of professional development opportunities to meet individual teacher needs and also incorporates school wide initiatives (These initiatives have given teachers an opportunity to voice their thoughts and raise questions and to agree on this initiative for the school.)
Do we value inquiry? How do we show that we value inquiry school wide? How do we show we value inquiry with staff? How do we show we value inquiry in the classroom? How do we show we value inquiry in our relationships? I have so many questions. Sometimes those questions are not appreciated. But in a caring environment, those questions are seen as important and deemed necessary in providing the best solutions for children. What do you think?