I think about this all the time as a dad – my lil ones are a 12 year old boy and a 6 year old girl – and I often criticize myself for falling short. I think about this all the time as a teacher and as a colleague. Again, I often criticize myself for falling short. Don’t get me wrong, I think I am doing the right thing much of the time, I just wish it were easier – or more manageable – to do the right thing all the time. Our school Reverend delivered a chapel today that made me really dwell on this and I remember an important quote that I keep on my bulletin board. It is a quote that the wonderful Meg Craig (@mathymeg07) shortened for a poster in my room. I want to share the quote to help me stay focused and, hopefully, to help anyone else reading this stay focused as well.
Genuine enquiry is an important state for students to recognize and internalize as socially valid. Consequently it is an important state for teachers to enact. But it is difficult to enquire genuinely about the answer to problems or tasks which have well-known answers and have been used every year. However, it is possible to be genuinely interested in how students are thinking, in what they are attending to, in what they are stressing (and consequently ignoring). Thus it is almost always possible to ask genuine questions of students, to engage with them, and to display intelligent directed enquiry. For if students are never in the presence of genuine enquiry, but always in the presence of experts who know all the answers, then students are likely to form the impression that there is an enormous amount to know, and that experts already know it all, when what society wants (or claims to want) is that each individual learn to enquire, weigh up, to analyse, to conjecture, and to draw and justify conclusions.