The Importance of Why?

Today was such a learning opportunity for me.  I had the chance to teach 6th grade Language Arts.  We were learning about how Ancient Greece has influenced modern times.  The students read through the story with my help and I found myself asking quite a few questions of the class.  One of the things I found myself constantly asking them was why?  Why?  Why?

The question why? is tied to common core instruction because it asks kids to justify their answer.  They have to defend and support their response using text or reasoning from inferences made by the author.  The question “why?” bumps learning to another level.  At one point, we were studying Socrates, and were reading about his important contributions to the teaching practice.  We went over the Socratic Method and the students discovered that I was teaching using this model.  They were frustrated beyond belief because they kept wanting me to give them clues, all I said was,” look back in your text and tell me what sentence explains or proves the answer.  I’m perfectly comfortable with wait time….”  I called on students that weren’t raising their hands, I called on students that were, I held all students accountable by asking them to share the answers with their partners and prove it.  It was exhausting, but I couldn’t help thinking that Socrates was truly an unbelievable teacher because those students went home tired today.

My proof, you might ask?  I asked one of the students as he left how he felt, and he said exhausted.  Of course, I asked “why?” He looked at me with this wonderful teenage expression you can all visualize, that said “really”, and then said “I had to think quite a bit today.”

Thanks Socrates!





Published in: Questioning Strategies on January 21, 2014 at8:26 pm Comments (0)

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  1. The importance of why | Perspective from PTES Principal

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