He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever.” – Chinese Proverb
Gone are the days when rote learning and memorization seemed to serve the purposes of students. The modern higher education and working life demand that there be sound understanding of whatever concepts that the students are trying to apply to the situation at hand.
Consequently, merely spoon-feeding the students the information will no longer work. The students have to be made active partners in the acquisition of knowledge and the learning process. To ensure that children shift from passive to active learning, it needs an attitudinal change on three fronts:
You need to encourage questioning and solving of doubts by the students during the classroom lecture. After you have covered some new ground or explained a new concept, you need to pause and ask the students explicitly and directly, “Do you have any questions?” You could also incorporate your own questions during your lecture, which you then go on to answer – questions like “Why do you think this happens?” etc. At the end of the class, you should cater 3-5 minutes for questions by students on what has transpired in the class that day. All questions should be treated with care and consideration and all questions, however silly, should be welcomed. Students should not be made to feel that they would be laughed or sneered at for asking a seemingly “silly” question. The atmosphere in the classroom should be such that the students do not feel afraid to ask a question.
Students need to overcome their inhibitions in asking questions. To begin with, even if they do not have a specific question, they would do well to cultivate the habit of questioning anything and everything. They should try to explore the subject by asking themselves “what if …” kind of questions and raising the same with their teacher.
Parents are often guilty of being authoritarian toward their children. They should cultivate a friendlier attitude towards their children and let them feel at ease to ask any and every question to satisfy their curiosity. In fact, parents lay the foundation for how the student behaves in the classroom. If questioning and exploring is forbidden by the parents, then the child will carry the same deferential spirit into the classroom where the teacher is seen as yet another authoritarian figure whose word is final.
D. Samarender Reddy