Educational Questions: a Path to Discovering, not just Learning

The question is our best educational asset. Postman, Weingartner, and Macrorie, would all make this argument, and they did in the assigned reading. Postman and Weingartner made a direct argument in support of the educational question, and Macrorie made an indirect argument towards this through the presentation and explanation of the I-search paper. Questions are the gateway to good learning. However, this argument depends solely on the educational aspect of the question. Educational questions are open to interpretation and thus are open to different answers, through this they stress the individuality of the learner/answerer, and they have the potential to lead the learner/answerer to more educational questions in response. They also potentially allow for the learner to learn both about the subject and themselves. Without these educational questions, the process of learning is simply the providing and accepting of facts decided upon by the people who came before, when really it should be the challenging of these past people, and the verifying or discrediting of these facts through questioning. In this sense we aim for the discovery of knowledge, rather than just the accumulation of supposed “facts.” Unfortunately a lot of educational systems are still stuck in accumulation of facts curriculum, and failure to accumulate these facts in the way the curriculum wants labels one a bad student. There is little room for discovery because there is little room for challenging the facts because to do so would risk this negative label. On the contrary, a curriculum that stresses the discovery process through educational questioning puts students in terms of who is and is not willing to learn, and who is and is not asking the right questions. In this sense, I propose the question, how do we go about formulating these educational questions? How do we identify what we should be aiming to discover and then how do we ask the right questions towards this discovery? This is something that I have struggled with throughout my entire education. I have always been labeled as a good student, I have the will to learn, but I do not know the right questions to ask. I always want to ask questions when teachers open the floor, but I just don’t know what to even ask. I’m not sure if this is possibly because the curriculum in my education did not allow much room for educational questions, or because I was too focused on answering questions rather than proposing new questions in response to reach an answer, but regardless, I would really like to be able to ask these questions. I am hoping that my I-search paper will lead me to a better understanding of how to do this.

My I-search paper has already started to help me with this process. As I have explored possible subjects, I have started to formulate some potentially educational questions. These questions I am considering to pursue and the subjects I am considering formulating questions about are, “Can I be an RA with my time-consuming theatre major?”, “What summer stock theatre could I pursue this summer?”, a minor in Composition and Rhetoric, any kind of minor in general, and synesthesia. The subjects of a minor in Composition and Rhetoric and synesthesia have interested me the most. With the minor in Composition and Rhetoric, I’m not quite sure what questions I would ask exactly. I guess I would just start off with, “Should I pursue a minor in Composition and Rhetoric?” I like this question because I’m not even sure what this minor could do for me, but I want to know. All I know about it is that I really like this class and the content, and I guess I’m pretty good at it to, since my writing is receiving good response. I would further explore if I would have time, how it would work with my double majors, etc. I’m also interested in the synesthesia, though, because I discovered it through a friend I recently met who was born with it and it’s so fascinating. For her, it means that she can see different color auras around letters, numbers, and people and with people, she can determine their personalities from this. It’s a diagnosed psychological “disorder” although I would call it more of a gift. However, I then found out from my COM 1010 instructor that you can train yourself in certain small areas of synesthesia (it’s a very broad term). I would love to explore how this is done and if I could do it myself.

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2 thoughts on “Educational Questions: a Path to Discovering, not just Learning

  1. You raise a really important question: HOw do we know HOW to ask these kinds of questions? My research turned up the idea that it’s not enough that students have the space to ask questions, but that they also need to learn how to ask them, through modeling and through explicit feedback. We’ll work on this on Tuesday when we workshop several I-search questions in class. The questions you’re working through sound really interesting (and, on a side note, I will say yes, you should definitely explore the possibility of an English minor–and there’s an event this week I will send you a flyer for).

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