Living the Questions with Children

IMG_2182“Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

-Rainer Maria Rilke

“What do you know to be true?” This spacious question leaves lots of room for the answer to change and grow, and it is strong enough to last a lifetime.

What do you know to be true?

I know this to be true: If you want to teach children to ask questions, you had better be asking them yourself…lots of them. A good lesson is only as good as a good question. The best questions are in patient pursuit of meaningful answers. Right answers melt like snowflakes on hot pavement. Meaningful answers take time. A teacher’s questions are only a start. In teaching my students the art of good questioning, I teach them that good questions have more than one right answer; must be supported by the text; and invite discussion.

We often follow literature with a routine called “No Answers, Just Questions.” I begin with a well-crafted question as a model, and then turn this routine over to my students to collectively craft their own. We move around the circle, questions hanging in the air, until everyone has had a chance to participate. We now have a pool of questions from which to choose for deeper reflection, discussion, and writing. Good questions need rich beautiful literature to grow.

And what else do you know to be true?

I know this to be true: Questions are the bedrock upon which we live our lives on tiptoe… stretching to peer around the next bend. Questions both beckon and prod our wondering, marveling, seeking, and celebration. Questions keep us from standing still and from being stagnant. And as we work to live “along some distant day into an answer” we can have some beautiful conversations along the way. When it comes to teaching, the best question is the right answer.

About Annie Campbell

Annie Campbell is a National Board Certified teacher and loves her work. After a forty year career in the classroom, she continues to support teachers. Annie enjoys cooking for family and friends; she likes to lose herself in a good book; she loves discovering new ideas, restaurants, perfect picnic places, and movies with her husband, Ben.
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4 Responses to Living the Questions with Children

  1. lorna blake says:

    I absolutely love this. “Good questions need rich beautiful literature to grow.” I can just picture a beautiful orchard filled with green, growing questions….

  2. Susan Barstow says:

    Gorgeous. Good questions are so needed in our world right now. May I share this more widely? (Twitter?)

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