In one form or another, the ability to ask good questions has been a recurrent theme in almost all of my conversations about core competencies and skills for success in today's workplace. The habit of asking good questions was most frequently mentioned as a essential component of critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. It turns out that asking good questions, critical thinking, and problem solving go hand in hand in the minds of most employers and business consultants, and taken together they represent the First Survival Skill of the new global "knowledge economy." Equally important, they are skills that our kids need in order to participate effectively in our democracy.We have not yet delved into the "Identify" part of Guided Inquiry Design formally, but today a number of questions began to emerge from the students in the "Explore" phase. This was consistent with the information I read in Guided Inquiry Design: A Framework for Inquiry in Your School (Kuhlthau, Maniotes, and Caspari).
Here are some statements from the book:
"Students often become overwhelmed by all the information and confused by the ideas that don't fit together."
"Explore is designed to give students the time to explore their ideas without pressure to make it all fit together and to raise lots of questions without pressure to choose one to center on before they are ready."
One student asked, "Did the passage of the Nineteen Amendment ensure that women could run for president?"
Using a primary source newspaper document in the defense of slavery, one of the students noted that the author didn't make sense. In the article, the author used the argument that slavery was acceptable because, in essence, we were all slaves. "I've heard ridiculous ideas presented before, but they were much better written." Using the same article, a student in another class couldn't believe what he was reading. When I asked, "Who wrote the article?" I got an "Oh, now I get it."
Still others were incredulous that the United States government would provide ammunition for the shooting of buffalo and the almost extinction of the animal in order to extinguish the Native American population. "Why would they do that?"
"Could an African American own a plantation? Could an African American own slaves?"
Peggy Turlington and I also noted that one of the students who usually doesn't do very well on tests had a lot to say in class. She knew the answers to questions that were posed and expressed herself confidently.