Curiouser and curiouser

12th October 2018 at 00:00

“I wasn’t sure the students knew the answers to your questions,” I was once told in lesson-observation feedback. “It was like they were… grappling.”

“Isn’t the word ‘grapple’ in the Ofsted descriptor for outstanding?” I asked.

It was. And it still is there in the handbook.

For me, alarm bells are triggered when I see a classroom full of confident hands thrust up into the air.

At that point, you have found the lowest common denominator, removed all challenge, and reinforced that certainty is desirable.

I have a fantasy of a classroom culture where curiosity and uncertainty are kindled into a blaze.

Wouldn’t it be great if we trained our students to use questions more effectively?

Picture the moment as you explain a concept and you’re interrupted by a barrage:

“What is the counter argument?”

“Can you give me an example?”

“How do you feel about this?”

Our students should be unselfconscious about the deeper questions that motivate their learning:

What can I do to make the world a better place?

Will we ever achieve interstellar travel?

Can stories help explain how I feel?

If our learners don’t have those questions, then something has gone very wrong because, somewhere in their past, they did.

Andrew Otty leads 16-19 English in an FE college. He is an ambassador for SHINE


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