CM . . .
. Volume XIII Number 8 . . . .December 8, 2006
I was taken by the title of this book because one of my post-graduate students (let’s call her Kelly) is currently investigating this topic in her Master of Education thesis. She is a Grade 9 science teacher and wants to determine which teaching strategies promote the development of better quality questions by her students through a research project that will see the implementation and evaluation of these strategies in her own classroom. The book appeared at the right time. She was in the process of developing her literature review and was frustrated by the lack of resource information that provided practical examples of how a teacher might assist students in developing better inquiry questions. The book, at least by judging by the cover, appeared to be a valuable find. The book did not sit unopened for long. We both read the book hoping to develop a (1) better understanding of questioning and its role in general in fostering student learning and a (2) helping hand in some strategies that might be used in her own classroom research. The book was read, reread and discussed. Much of what came out of our discussion is what I share with you.
First and foremost, Kelly found the first sections of the book “confirmatory.” She was delighted! Her own pursuit of getting her students to ask better questions came from her own discontent with them as learners. As the authors’ purport, she was frustrated by the level of engagement she was witnessing in her students. She wanted them to inquire, to challenge, to question, not just for her sake but, more importantly, theirs, and not just in the classroom, but as citizens of a local community. She also knew it really wasn’t their fault. The opening pages of the book conveyed her motivation for her own research. As the authors state, “This book is offered in the hope, that by examining how to question, we may arrive at answers that will generate richer classroom interactions and provide our students with opportunities to develop and practice that essential democratic skill.” (p. 11). As well, the introductory sessions made it explicit that the purpose of the book was to help educators identify what was currently happening in their classroom and to further consider what they would like to happen. Equally she hoped there would be much concrete support provided in how to move from where she was at to where she wanted to be. Kelly had found gold; at least she hoped!
Brian Lewthwaite is a professor of Science Education in the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.