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 A simple question makes a huge difference

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Number of posts : 2
Localisation : Tinjdid
Emploi : Teacher
Registration date : 2006-02-27

A simple question makes a huge difference Empty
PostSubject: A simple question makes a huge difference   A simple question makes a huge difference EmptyMon 27 Feb - 16:50

I’d like to tackle the class management problematical approaches in this paper, but regarding the massive number of students in each group, it becomes almost impossible to even think about it. However, let’s imagine that the classroom we are talking about is formed of 25 students.

Imagine the teacher wants to introduce her students to a new topic, let’s imagine it “COLOURS”. The first thing the teacher would consider is to show the students a certain colour and asks,

- “What colour is this?”

Or, a little better, she might point to her dress or smock and asks:

- “What colour is my smock?”
- “It is white”, a student might reply and he or she is praised opulently.

In situations as such the teacher is teaching vocabulary. And many teachers are satisfied once the students become aware of the difference between black and white, red and brown, teal and green. But this suddenly turned into a joke if the teacher called this move a lesson. I call it warm up; instead. The lesson has not yet begun. This step is just paving the way to the core of the lesson and first and foremost the real objective of teaching colours.


The student might use the colour in many true to life situations. For instance addressing his or her classmate:

- Give me a red pen, please. (Without pointing to it)

The classmate won’t hand him or her a blue or a black pen unless he or she lucks this little information that makes the big difference.

The question that comes into mind, in this case, is this,

Is it enough for the student to name colours?

Taken for a first move, this measure is compulsory but it is never an end in itself. Many teachers possibly will consider it as an achievement; however I’ll show that it is nothing except for a brick in the wall.

“What colour is it?” is technically called a display question. The human brain is more a complicated tool for more complicated requirements. What we intend to make our students develop is a self acquisition faculty that allows them to have their own views of and about things.

Everybody knows that this or that colour is either Black or White or whatever. So why ask someone to tell you what it is? Nobody has ever (in real life situations) asked somebody else if he or she knows the name of this or that colour.

In brief, it is quite inconceivable to ask a question that we already know its answer. This way of dealing with communication breeds brain-death (figuratively speaking). Suppose I point to the green door and ask, “What colour is that door?” I know what your answer will be, if it is not what I have in mind, I’ll get astonished because I expect you to tell me that the door is “green” why, then, do you say, it’s “blue”. Consequently, I’ll consider your answer somehow cynical, stupid or at least illogical. As a result, it’s totally out of point to call this communication.

“What‘s your favourite colour?”

With this question I am seeking for new information completely unknown to me. I cannot predict your favourite colour even if we are close friends. It is a matter of mood. Your favourite colour yesterday was the red but today it could be any other colour. This is communication.

“What does the red colour represent for you?”

I cannot guess; but only in terms of our old static teaching methods which used to prevail years ago in our schools. They wanted us to think the way they did. They wanted us to become a poor photocopy of them as originals. They told us to remember that the Red represents danger. The white represents peace and so on. They only forged all our brains to reflect in the same way. They were only fabricating a barren collective brain with no outlet for change or innovation. In tests, all the correct answers are the same. Anyone who breaks the rule is the odd one out.

The teacher comments,

- All those who wrote that the red colour represents danger have a full mark. Any other ‘opinion’ is discarded as being NOT conform to the rule.

In cases as such, you have the right to respond to it,

-What?! Miss, this is only a point of view, not a fact.

Suppose you tell your teacher that you don’t agree that the red represents danger. She might get angry and reacts to your objection by asking you,

- So, you little genius (sarcastically) can you tell us what it represents for you?

With a little courage you might have said that it represents “bloodshed” or “family relationship”. You are not conventional at all!!!

All in all, referential questions are more significant than display questions if we really mean to make our students able to accumulate ingredients of self confidence. We should not force them to think stupidly or at least in the way we do.

- How many seasons are there in the year?

This is a dim question because its answer is the same for everybody as it is a fact. Yet,

- Which season do you like best and why?

This is a communication triggering question that allows each one to be “himself” or herself” and communicates a different taste that maybe is shared by others. No matter what the question the teacher asks, it should be personal opinion oriented because, eventually, a simple question really makes a huge difference.
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