Ask a Question

A show of hands here: How many of you ask your kids when they get home from school what they learned that day? I for sure am one of those dads. Why do I ask that question? Well, I guess it is because my parents asked me that question all the time. I am curious about what they learned, but I generally get a flat answer. I remember cringing at the thought of having to deliver an answer.

Fast forward to a conference I was at last week with area Heads of School. We had the good fortune of having Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, President of the University of Maryland Baltimore County, asour keynote speaker. He is an impressive man who has done an amazing job of building up UMBC to a national powerhouse in the math and sciences. He had so many amazing  points to share with us. One point in particular stood out. Instead of asking the question, “what did you learn today?”;  Dr. Hrabowski suggested we should ask our kids if they asked a good question today. Maybe it is because I watch a great deal of the Science Channel, where their motto is “question everything”, that this point from Dr. Hrabwoski stuck with me.

The act of asking a question really shows the critical thinking process that is going on in the mind of a child. Critical thinking is essential to the development of our children and the world they are in and will be entering. Asking questions shows interest, desire and curiosity. Many times it also shows the creativity of a child. Developing this skill in our children is essential in schools and for us as parents.

So, I got in the car on Saturday and told my kids that I was going to start asking them about questions they asked in school as opposed to what they learned. I was met with my usual silence from the peanut gallery. But, a few minutes later, one of the kids perked up and reported a question they had asked about sharks. It led to a great conversation about sharks and sea animals. And then a barrage of other questions came. I may have unleashed a lion here, BUT, it is great to see such curiosity and inquiry around learning. Thankfully, I have a phone that is smarter than me and can provide answers at 4G speed.

So, give it a try. Ask your kids: “what good question did you ask in school today?” It will give you a window into their thinking. After all, learning takes place because questions are asked, and questions shape our learning. I remember always wondering how different “things” were made. I guess it is no surprise that the show, How It’s Made, is one of my favorites now. Ask away, you might learn something.