Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Activity: How to teach the Art of Questioning

Teach the art of questioning by taking an object, such as a piece of fruit or natural object, and have students ask questions about the object.

Basic questions, or what is called "low-level" questions, incorporate recall and specific details about an object.

Higher level questions incorporate analysis, application, synthesis and evaluation of said object. As well as by comparison questions about diverse objects, what makes them similar what makes them different?

Students learn the basic steps, and thus naturally learn the art of questioning when they raise their own questions about an object or topic which can be both educational and fun.


1: Explain to the class that you are going to teach/facilitate how to ask questions. Set up basic ground rules e.g. let each person speak at a time, every question is valid regardless of how bizarre they may seem, should I allow to answer questions?- only if it leads onto another question? Set up trust/ safe space to enable learning and sharing.

2: Collect a selection of pieces of fruit that allot of questions can be asked e.g. apple, banana or orange or strawberries

3: Split the class into groups e.g. groups of 2

4: Get each group to pick a piece of fruit.

5:Begin by getting students to recall specific details they can see about the piece of fruit e.g. colour and shape of fruit. Have students hold the fruit in their hands, is the fruit sticky, smooth or rough?

6: Ask students which type of fruit has vitamin c in it, compared differences and similarities of other fruit? Let them go away and research Internet or books as research devices. Then from the research work out which better for them and why based on nutritional data.

7:Which fruit have seeds? are they on the outside or inside? why?
Size of seeds? why?

8: Have students question experiential methods(Play) of ways to peel or eat fruit without getting messy sticky? How does that compare with messy processes.

9: Ask students what they would if they were hungry and they found a worm in the piece of fruit?

10:Explain how the synthesis of two diverse disciplines to create a new innovation works by asking what a piece of fruit would taste like if they combined two pieces of fruit? like an apple and pear. Explain the Midici effect: bringing two diverse ideas together to create innovation e.g. Termite mounds and sky scrapers air conditioning or bullet trains based on kingfishers.
(power of collaboration ideas and relationships)

Tao by Lao Tzu
People finding one thing beautiful,
Think another unbeautiful,
Finding one creation sound,
They judge another unsound.
Yet, creation and destruction,
Difficult and easy,
High and low,
All arise from each other.
Since something and nothing
Give birth to one another,
Offer texture to a life,
And nourish the imagination,
A creative person accepts no rules,
And knows that opposites,
Are part of the whole.
Accepting everything as it is,
The let it come and go,
As something to participate in,
Yet not to dominate,
To nourish, yet not to possess.
In union with what is,
They give birth freely,
Without claiming authority,
For creativity is all around,
And within us all."

11:Record interesting questions relating to object on a sheet. Encourage someone to create a drawing of object in the middle. Which questions interest them? students are more likely to ask questions about subjects that intrigue or fascinate them.

12:How does your object compare to the wider world? insights about the wider world they can gain from a small object e.g. how communities work? what humans need? how cities are built? how governments work? How the world works? How things grow? how they spread seeds?

12: Ask their own questions? how does the piece of fruit relate to them? how they feel? insights into their lifestyle?

13: Closing feedback and share on the experience of questioning

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