Sunday, 10 February 2013
Teachers! What would it look like to not expect answers? How would we teach children differently if we didn’t expect them to have any answers? But instead taught from a place of guidance to go deeper into questioning to find out something completely different. What would happen if you started letting students answer questions with questions instead of answers? The questions that they didn’t know the answer to and the questions they thought they did know the answer to.
One of my very first belief statements as a student teacher was:
Answer questions with questions, (as a starting point).
I don't think I took it far enough... Small revision:
Answer questions with questions, as a starting point and a launching point... AND teach your students to respond to their answer with questions.
One of my favourite teachers Adyashanti says,
“The true role of teachers is to question their students’ answers , not to sit around giving answers of their own. My job is to question what they think they know, as a means to deliver them back to themselves.” (Adyashanti, 99, The End of Your World).
What if we just taught from that space in the first place where the answers were the questions. Do we have to think we know something before it is questioned? Or can we learn to respond to ANSWERS as a wall, a stale place of energy that needs to be infused with a question. Where answers are seen as not enough.
“ ”Not knowing” is something that is undervalued in our culture. Most of us are conditioned to believe that not knowing isn’t a very worthy trait.” (Adyashanti, 139, Falling Into Grace).
So what would happen if we started feeling answers like a block? We could call answers walls and then it would be so easy to see that when you get to a wall, you need to respond with more questions, until you reach the next wall. Answers become almost humorous when you replace them with the word wall, block or obstacle. “Put your hand up if you know the block.” Actually this does seem useful. “Now that we know the block (answer), what else is possible?” It’s like the answers could be clear indicators of where we need to work to be more open.
How does learning and the brain change if we start to value inquiry over resolution? Uncertainty over certainty? Can we help students develop trust in their uncertainty? Trust in their questions? Trust in their capacity to embody the limitless?
In some ways I realize that this is already happening with inquiry based learning but I think overall we're still answer oriented. If we change our orientation and point our students toward feeling successful when we come to a new question, everything changes! It lets us spiral out into an entirely new limitless direction.
I feel like this is a spark to changing a failing education system but I’m not going to put it out there like an answer or limiting belief. So...
Yoga Sparks spiral inquiry and I challenge you to answer my questions with more questions or if you think you have an answer (block), ask another question and let it shoot off into a new direction. A spiral of inquiry.
Can you teach without asking for answers?
What would have to change in your classroom to make "not knowing" a celebration rather than a failure? How is this already happening and if it's not could this be an easy starting point for where classrooms are at right now?
What would evaluation and assessment look like if we weren’t looking for answers?
What would your lessons look like in order to teach a search for questions?
Is it possible to keep the current curriculum and teach this way?
and of course...
What else is possible?
Let me know what you think, I’m listening!!
With light and love,