Are our schools doing a good job of preparing students for a world where questioning is a survival skill?
A number of factors may contribute to a decline in questioning-asking. As kids mature and begin to “know” more, it’s understandable they might feel less need to ask. But Harvard University education professor Paul Harris points out that young children also seem to feel less safe asking questions as they move from being at home with parents to being in a classroom with a teacher and other kids.
It doesn’t help that in many classrooms, there’s little encouragement—and almost no teaching—of questioning. Tony Wagner, an expert in residence at Harvard’s Innovation Lab (and a former schoolteacher himself), reports that in his observation of classrooms, the message from teachers is, “‘We don’t have time for student questions—because that will take time away from the number of answers I have to cover.’” This is not to suggest teachers are happy with this situation; as one California high school teacher lamented to The New York Times, “I have so many state standards I have to teach concept-wise, it takes away time from what I find most valuable—which is to have [students] inquire about the world.”