Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Great Questions

Teachers often complain that students are only driven by physical needs and their shallow desire to bring their GPA to the highest number possible. We want our students to have their physical needs met before they enter our classroom, so they are ready to embark on the 1 hour adventure we have planned for them. We want our students to be excited to learn the content, because we are passionate about teaching it. As a result, we sometimes tire of calling on a student who has raised his/her hand only to hear questions like:
  • Can I go to the bathroom?
  • Can I get a drink?
  • Does this count?
  • How much is this worth?
  • I left my binder/homework/book/calculator/sweatshirt/fill-in-appropriate-item-here in my locker. Can I go get it?
  • I was out yesterday. Did I miss anything?
In an effort to lift my own spirits and remind myself of the natural curiosity my students have, I decided to sit down and write some of the great questions I have heard lately. Here are some examples of great questions my students have asked me recently:
  • What is the difference between raw materials and natural resources?
  • I know we are studying the Commercial Revolution, but I have heard that we are in the Information Revolution. When do you think that started, Mrs. Gallagher?
  • Why were the Africans willing to sell their own people to the slave traders?
  • Why do they call it [the journey of slaves on crowded ships from Africa across the Atlantic Ociean to the Americas] the Middle Passage?
  • If slaves outnumbered their owners, why didn't they just kill all the owners?
  • What is it like to get typhus or smallpox? How come we don't hear about people getting those anymore?
  • Are the Liberals and Conservatives from the 1800s like Liberals and Conservatives today?
  • Are arches considered neo-classical or gothic architecture?
  • How is it possible to get the most votes but not the majority?

These are just the questions I thought of in the 10 or 15 minutes I took out of my preparation period today to type up this post. I'm sure the rest of you have many more examples from your own classes. What great questions have your students asked you lately?