Questioning Others

Yesterday, I had students ask three people questions: what is radiation, and what can it do? I was hoping to get some preconceptions going and spark some conversations for today’s class on nuclear chemistry and radiation. 

What I got was a lot of kids who, while I checked individuals’ homework, said they got weird answers, but were afraid to be “wrong” in the group. Some has even gone so far as to only ask people they knew had accurate information. 

This is a very competitive, high-ranked school ok, and kids aren’t used to being wrong. And from my assignment I can see that most are pretty uncomfortable with the thought of possessing wrong answers that aren’t even their own thoughts. 

I had to, for purposes of conversation, bring up things people knew, and things people “knew” about radiation so that we could talk more frankly. 

Although I know that class climate is s major component of discussions and comfort of kids asking questions, this is s good reminder for me that I need to make sure that I take care of this climate, because it can make or break further questioning and discussion. 

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2 thoughts on “Questioning Others

  1. “This is a very competitive, high-ranked school ok, and kids aren’t used to being wrong. And from my assignment I can see that most are pretty uncomfortable with the thought of possessing wrong answers that aren’t even their own thoughts. ”
    I, in brutal mode, would be tempted to call this a “failing school”.

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  2. I see this happen repeatedly. Like when I ask kids to “estimate.”
    One thing I did this year was get a kid who was really good about working in groups and had a super growth mindset last year come to talk to my kids this year about that experience. I don’t *know* if it did any good, but hopefully it’s one of a bunch of small things getting kids okay being not quite right and being okay with that.
    Thanks for this post and reminding me to continually work on this!
    Sam

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