Opinion
School Climate & Safety Letter to the Editor

Classrooms Must Accommodate Curiosity and Questioning

August 05, 2014 1 min read

To the Editor:

It is incredibly important that we discuss curiosity’s place in our educational policies, structures, and practices. This is especially true in schools that serve students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

I was struck when Erik Shonstrom wrote in his Commentary, “Curiosity, it can appear, is a luxury the poor can ill afford.” As someone from a disadvantaged background who works on encouraging critical thinking, questioning, and curiosity in the classroom, I am saddened by the attitude Mr. Shonstrom describes.

I strongly agree with the big idea of the essay—that all students, especially the most disadvantaged, deserve the opportunity to ask their own questions and have educators who foster their curiosity. I would simply add one point that must be emphasized for this shift to actually happen in classrooms: Educators must create space and opportunities to explicitly invest in building students’ capacity to ask their own questions.

In an educational system where answers have been (and continue to be) the measure of success, simply providing time for questions to be asked will not be enough.

Educators can teach students to ask their own questions using techniques such as my organization’s question-formulation technique, even within the constraints of a test-based environment.

Lavada Berger

Deputy Director

Right Question Institute

Cambridge, Mass.

A version of this article appeared in the August 06, 2014 edition of Education Week as Classrooms Must Accommodate Curiosity and Questioning

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