This is a very reflective piece from Wendy Berliner, brought to my attention by Charlotte Davies, which recalls some research from 2007 about children asking questions.
The intensity with which children ask questions drops off once they reach school as the administrative and discipline demands of the classroom tends to restrict active questioning, except in response to teacher prompts. I’m minded of Sir Ken Robinson outlining how young children operate like geniuses when problem-solving before school because there are no limits to their imagination and ability to come up with creative solutions because they don’t constrain themselves with parameters.
This makes quite sombre reading and is yet more evidence that the status quo in school-based learning is untenable, both from the point of view of the return on expenditure in state education and in the limiting of the educational potential of the student.
‘In 2007, researchers logging questions asked by children aged 14 months to five years found they asked an average of 107 questions an hour. One child was asking three questions a minute at his peak.
Susan Engel, The Hungry Mind, finds questioning drops like a stone once children start school. When her team logged classroom questions, she found the youngest children in an American suburban elementary school asked between two and five questions in a two-hour period. Even worse, as they got older the children gave up asking altogether. There were two-hour stretches in fifth grade (year 6) where 10 and 11-year-olds failed to ask their teacher a single question.
In one lesson she observed, a ninth grader raised her hand to ask if there were any places in the world where no one made art. The teacher stopped her mid-sentence with, “Zoe, no questions now, please; it’s time for learning.”
If we are not talking to children we are not in-tune with their needs or developing a huge number of skills no wonder we have a mental health crisis.’
The prompt for her comments was this Guardian article by Wendy Berliner: