By : Karim Mohammad Khan
Studies identify that inquiry is a critical tool in teaching learning process through which information is gathered, messages are communicated, concepts are cleared, critical thinking is enhanced, problems are solved; unknowns are explored, ideas are generated and truths are revealed and that finally leads to scientific discoveries, inventions and further innovations.
However, children in schools across the country are lacking the habit and skills of asking questions due to multiple reasons. For example, our education system is usually answer-based and it is the answer that we reward while questions are barely tolerated. Secondly, lack of know-how and unfriendly attitudes of teachers is another reason as questions from children are belittled owing to errors, mistakes and time constraints.
Further, classroom atmosphere is less conducive for children to express their opinions freely as colleagues also ridicule when question is posed by any student in the class since it is thought to be a sign of little knowledge on the part of the questioner.
Home environment is also scary for children where asking questions in front of elders and family members are usually discouraged as by custom it is a sign of disrespect and against family norms and traditions.
Therefore, children don’t bother to ask questions and prefer to be reticent. Such pessimistic approach to schooling has negative impacts on students’ holistic development as they face learning deficiencies in subject matter, skills and attitude. Moreover, students’ innate faculty remains dormant and sluggish due to unavailability of grooming opportunity and friendly environment. That is why they can’t excel and perform well in their studies as they loss interest and become mediocre learners. This further diminishes their skills i.e interpersonal, creative, and critical and problem solving skills. And finally it results in failure in practical life.
However, to instill inquiry habits and skills in children is not that much tricky as certain strategies would help them to adopt the habit of posing questions regularly. In this regard, teachers’ own instructions and questions should be simple, concise, audible, purposeful and thought provoking with friendly attitude towards children in order to inspire them to learn effectively.
In addition, there are numerous classroom activities through which children’s questioning habit and skills can be amplified. For instance, in group activity with certain rules and guide lines in place children should be asked to jot down as many questions as they can from the topic under discussion. Initially, their questions should not be edited, judged or debated on errors rather appreciated and welcomed as this would help them to come up with many ideas through questionings.
Besides, parents and guardians of children should also be convinced to provide encouraging environment at home where their children feel free to speak and ask questions without any apprehension. Consequently, this would not only help to infuse questioning habit in students but will also be significant in depth-understanding of the topic under study from different angle.
After gaining the habit of questioning to a certain level the next stage is to guide children to think and practice of higher order questions. Here comes the responsibility of linguistic teachers who can guide and lead them to higher level thinking such as application, comparison, justification, evaluation, summarization and creation.
In addition, the types of questions i.e closed, open ended and probing questions need to be clarified with instances in order to have better sense of questioning skills in children as it leads them to critical thinking and problem solving skills. Also grammatical errors and spelling mistakes need to be corrected through sharing feedback individually as well as generally but without hurting the self-esteem of children.
These questions should also be applied across the curriculum so as to better understand any concept or terminology in any discipline. Hence, every subject teacher should think of different ways to encourage their students to come up with more and more questions in the class and augment their thinking level by asking lower to higher order questions and reward the habit of posing questions through verbal appreciation and even with prizes.
Finally, as a policy matter the education system should make Bloom’s taxonomy compulsory in schools for teachers to use in their daily lesson planning and to practice them a lot in the class and place them in tests and exam papers by distributing lower to higher order queries from each chapter equally through table of specification. So that students’ creative, critical and problem solving skills can be enhanced.
To sum up, researches unpack that inquiry is very critical devise in teaching learning processes as it serves in multiple ways to unpack children’s faculty and develop their core skills. However, children in schools are lacking the habit and skills of asking questions owing to teacher’s inefficiency, unfriendly attitude, unconducive classroom and home milieu. Nevertheless, inquiry habit and skills can be inculcated in children through providing encouraging environment in the class as well as at home and enhance teachers’ efficiency with positive attitude towards students so that they can use this tool to improve their learning outcomes as it is regarded the key to learning.