Monday, July 20, 2015

Should intelligence be measured by what we know or the questions we ask?

In our current education system we label, group, and track students based on academic achievement that is primarily measured by assessment. GPA, standardized test scores, honor roll, gifted and talented programs, and course level recommendation are determined by a students grades. High stakes testing whether standardized or local summative assessment have encouraged a culture of "what do I need to know to do well" While the measurement of content knowledge and skills in order to determine achievement is a requirement of education, we must also make room for inquiry and failure.

Merrian Webster defines intelligence as
" a (1) : the ability to learn or understand or to deal with new or trying situations : reason; also : the skilled use of reason (2) : the ability to apply knowledge to manipulate one's environment or to think abstractly as measured by objective criteria (as tests)"

 In an article published in the June edition of District Administration (2015), Warren Berger stated " The art of inquiry is the foundation of advancements in science, medicine, mathematics and more. Questioning "what is" often leads to discovery of "what could be"." In an era of academic competitiveness, high stakes testing and a demand for elite education we must not only provide opportunities for students to demonstrate mastery. We need to develop the skill to formulate great questions. We need to create classroom cultures that nurture this skill.

In the era of Google and mobile devices we can locate tremendous amounts of information. How do we connect the information that we acquire in order to develop intelligence? Are we developing our ability to ask great questions that will act like a catalyst for connecting information?

How do you integrate questioning into your classroom? Do you provide a culture and an environment in your classroom where kids are not only provided opportunities to question, but are comfortable asking? How do we create lessons that shift from "let me tell you what you need to know", to students asking questions as a result of your facilitation of learning that leads to required knowledge? Do you create a classroom environment where students challenge or contest a response, build on each other's responses, and take risks offering opinions or ideas? Do you provide all of the questions or are students expected to create questions?

For example, in a traditional classroom setting students may be provided a text and asked to answer a few questions regarding it. They may even be asked to respond to a discussion thread in an online environment in which the teacher posses the topics? Can we consider a reverse approach by asking students to read the text and develop a few of their own questions? Can we use technology to provide  a collaborative approach to this process?

This is an area that am looking to further explore. In future posts I hope to share and discuss cooperative grouping strategies, inquiry approaches to instruction, and simple classrooms strategies that may contribute a classroom culture of questioning.