Over the past 5 years or more, I have been learning about the power of good questions. Essentially, when students are asked or are asking great questions, their curiosity is piqued, and they are more likely to really dig into their learning. So here is a great question – what makes a question great? We know that the least interesting questions are those with straightforward, factual answers. (What is the distance from Steinbach to Winnipeg? How many students are in our class? etc.) A really great question is one that gets us to think hard in looking for the answer. A really great question may not have one correct answer. A really great question uses up a fair bit of our mental energy because we just can’t stop thinking about it.
As the principal of Clearspring Middle School, I want these kind of questions to be heard all around our school, to be on our walls, and to drive our learning. We want our students to be literate, numerate, and good citizens of the world. Great questions help us achieve these lofty goals. The cover of the September 2015 Educational Leadership, is filled with great questions. Here is a small sample. How can snakes hear if they don’t have ears? How do cultures evolve? Why am I a person? What are you wondering? At the heart of all learning is wonder, and wonder is at the heart of all great questions. I wonder how we can get every student to think and wonder deeply.