ASKING QUESTIONS

How many questions have you asked in the last hour? In the last day? In the last week?

This month in The Community (The Curious Piano Teachers online membership site) we are looking at all things to do with giving feedback in piano lessons. One of the key elements of effective feedback is the art of asking questions.

Asking Questions

QUESTIONS AND CHILDREN

The average 4 year old bombards the world with questions, asking over 70 a day on average according to one report (although others report more). CLICK HERE to read the article. Sometimes they adopt a scattergun approach asking multiple questions about a myriad of topics. Why is the sky blue? Why has that man got a hat on? Why are you laughing? Why are bananas curly?

Other times children can really dig deep with their questions, circling round a particular topic and getting more and more intricate and intense. Foe example, try answering ‘Where did I come from?’

QUESTIONS RATHER THAN ANSWERS

Children ask so many questions because they are insatiably curious. There’s an awful lot they don’t know so they are hungry to learn and to build up their store of knowledge.

As they gain in knowledge and understanding though adult expectations of children tend to shift towards wanting answers from them rather than continuing to encourage questions. Think of all the academic exams that so many teenagers sit every summer. In a written exam you are asked a question to which you have to provide reasoned and supported answers. The danger is that once written answers have a tendency to become fixed and somewhat permanent.

One of the first things that struck me when I started studying for a PhD was that there are no answers. Just a whole succession of questions to be continuously explored.

QUESTIONS AND TEACHERS

Teachers tend to ask lots of questions. In the classroom this might be up to 400 a day, over 2 per minute. That’s a lot of questions! Most of them however are procedural (e.g. Have you finished yet?) rather than learning based.

I wonder how many questions on average we ask in piano lessons? This week I’ll be asking questions and keeping a tally in a handful of different lessons. I’ll be curious to find out if the number changes according to what age group or standard I am teaching. I’ll report back in the next blog post.

In the meantime you might want to do the same in some of your lessons – it’s going to be an interesting week!

This blog post was written by Dr Sally Cathcart | Co-Founder of The Curious Piano Teachers

One thought on “ASKING QUESTIONS

  1. Jonathan Roberts

    Sounds good. I always try to ask questions in my lessons. I sometimes don’t tell the student straight away if they are right, to see how much confidence they have in their answer. I will say to them something like ‘I’m not saying if that’s right or wrong yet, but please explain to me why you’ve said that/why you think that, I’m interested to hear more’ and I like to hear the thought processes behind their answer. Doing that can help me understand more clearly how much they are understanding and what they may need more help with and gives them the opportunity to show off their musical knowledge and understanding. By getting them to answer questions also helps them to vocalize their answers and I think that is a much more powerful learning experience for them to retain what they have said rather than just hearing it from the teacher all the time. It gives them ownership of the word/subject in question in my opinion.

    Reply

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