Questioning for Learning

2nd July 2015

Mr Gary Oak

Head of Science

It is misleading to think that Science is only about test tubes and explosions! Science is actually the root of all learning. It promotes the idea of enquiry and investigation of things around us, creating theories and ideas and then testing them out to see if they work.

The art of questioning underpins this and, for a three week period in early June, pupils were encouraged to come up with 'good questions' in their lessons which demonstrated their passion to develop their own learning. Questioning is a powerful foundation stone in a young person's quest for independence.

"The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge" ~Thomas Louis Berger

The top 12 'questioners' were taken to Exeter University to join 2,500 other pupils from all over the South West in celebration of Science. The Big Bang is a series of UK wide events on Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths and is designed to generate enthusiasm amongst young people. There are fun-filled theatre shows, hands-on exhibits, interactive workshops and a wide range of careers information from local and national employers.

It was amazing to see how the enquiry skills that the pupils had developed in the classroom were applied to these new situations. Questions started to flow and replies were returned which led to a deeper engagement and understanding.

As far as questioning theory goes, as an individual acquires a new fact or piece of information, it is important to embed it into the existing network of current knowledge already acquired. This link must be made in order for the individual to be able to apply it effectively in a new situation. Without context, new knowledge is orphaned and exists as a fact without practical use, much in the same way as facts are listed in an encyclopaedia. In order to make the new information useful, an individual is obliged to ask questions to define its boundary, size and other qualities. Quite simply, without questioning, there is no learning.

Questions in context --> Engagement --> Deeper understanding --> Embedded Learning --> Application to new situation

Perhaps try the following self-questioning: 'What did I do today?' 'What did I learn from this experience?' 'How could I improve it for next time?' and 'How did this impact on others?'

"Knowledge is like an endless resource; a well of water that satisfies the innate thirst of the growing human soul. Therefore never stop learning...because the day you do, you will also stop maturing." ~ Chidi Okonkwo