3 Keys to Helping your Students Fall in Love with Thinking and Learning

No matter the content, it is how someone is able to think and synthesize information which will allow them to learn how to learn. We live in an age where an unlimited amount of information is a click or two away. The content exists, and my questions for you are:

Is the thinking of our students evolving?

How can students gather relevant information?

How can students communicate effectively?

I have been fortunate to have had many mentors in my life, in the Arts, Education and Business. They all share certain characteristics, and one of those is that they all use what I call the Art of the Question to evoke curiosity and to help foster a sense of wonder. This approach led to me embracing the idea of being a lifelong learner. Here is a simple breakdown of how you can use the Art of the Question with your own students.

Quality of Questions we ask Ourselves

  • Do we ask our ourselves engaging questions? In other words, do we help our students ask valuable questions?

  • What kinds of questions do we ask our students?

  • Are the kinds of questions we use with our students then repeated by our students?

  • Are we asking mostly linear questions?

  • Do our students ask primarily simple questions?

The kinds of questions we ask ourselves greatly impact our future in every way imaginable. My suggestion is:

  • Use a mix of simple and open-ended questions with yourself as a model for helping your students ask better questions of themselves.

  • Model that it’s alright to ask a question of yourself where there is no quick or apparent answer.

Encourage your students to think about the quality of the questions they ask themselves? Are they linear (yes/no) or abstract (open-ended)? Are the realistic or surreal? Do certain questions reveal our hopes and/or fears?

Quality of Questions we ask Others

  • Do we ask our others questions which evoke a sense of curiosity and willingness to communicate openly?  

  • Do we help our students ask questions which invite others into the process of thinking and learning?

  • What kinds of questions do we take the time to ask our students?

The kinds of questions we ask others greatly impacts the networks of people, and ideas, with whom we end up living. The quality of questions we ask others act as magnets. Make sure you are attracting the kind of people into your life who will, in turn, ask you valuable questions. My suggestion is:

  • Use primarily open-ended questions with others as a model for helping your students ask better questions of others.

  • Model the “sound of listening” by being quietly present once you have asked the question.

  • Encourage your students to think about the quality of the questions they ask others.

  • Are they factual?

  • Are the inventive?

  • Do certain questions foster a more authentic response?

Quality of Responses

  • Why do we ask questions?

  • Are we looking for certain responses?

  • What would happen if we were more interested in the general quality of the response as opposed to a specific response?

Here’s a simple game you can play with your students I call: “Next Q”

  • Sit in a circle and one student begins by asking a question.

  • As the guide, you can create as many or as few parameters as you feel are helpful.

  • The next student starts by saying, “Interesting question. That makes me think of a question. My question related to your question is ______________?”

There is no end to this game and I encourage you to chart the path and growth from question 1 into infinity.

I could give you more information on that game, but it could spoil the ongoing nature of the potential outcomes, so instead I’ll simply ask you, “Are you willing to play that game?”

As guides of the next generation, it is important to think about how we respond to the questions our students ask. We need to make sure we are responding in ways which foster a sense of safety and curiosity. We want students to ask questions and we need to model for them how to ask questions which bring value to themselves and others. I’ll revisit this topic in the future as I believe this to be fundamental to building a better future.  I  also urge you to use this approach with yourself so you can model evolved thinking and learning for your students and/or your own children.

Peace and Abundance

Luke Hewlett