The skill of question asking is far too rarely deliberately taught in school. We have worked with and learned from educators to develop a teaching strategy, the Question Formulation Technique (QFT), which provides a simple yet powerful way to teach students how to formulate, work with, and use their own questions.
Rothstein and Santana have put together a straightforward and accessible book about what seems like a simple idea – get kids to ask questions, questions they care about. Don’t be deceived. It’s one thing to get kids or anyone to ask a question or two; it’s another to get them take possession of the questions, to recognize that learning is asking questions and not just memorizing stuff. The art of making questions, nearly lost, is thankfully revived in [Make Just One Change].
As the title of this book indicates, Dan Rothstein and Luz Santana believe that education can be transformed if students, rather than teachers, assume responsibility for posing questions. This idea may sound simple, but it is both complex and radical: complex, in that formulating good, generative questions, and being prepared to work toward satisfactory answers, is hardly a simple undertaking; and radical, in the sense that an apparently easy move can bring about a Copernican revolution in the atmosphere of the classroom and the dynamics of learning. The authors modestly quote physicist Niels Bohr who once said, ‘An expert is someone who has made all possible mistakes in a field and there are no more to be made.’ In reading this powerful work, I was reminded of what Albert Einstein said, when he learned of Jean Piaget’s pioneering questioning of young children: ‘so simple only a genius could have thought of it.’
I’d also enjoy seeing more teachers take a page out of the Right Question Institute and help students learn to formulate great questions.
“This is the best, most useful training in 22 years of teaching!”
Asking questions is a step in creating change.
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