411 Focus

When I was in the classroom, I sometimes raised the wrath of my students when their questions were met with questions.

Contributed By:Dorothy Nevils maslivend@sbcglobal.net

Questions: The best answer

I’m a big fan of “asking the asker.” When I was in the classroom, I sometimes raised the wrath of my students when their questions were met with questions. Their faces would morph into an almost unrecognizable contortion, and they’d whine anything from, “You the teacher,” – which, by the way, won them no grammar points – to “My mama said if you don’t know, ask (the teacher!).” Both of those defenses met with no success, as I tossed back, “I’m a teacher, not a teller.”

I believe, and I am not alone, that people learn from questions, rather than answers. That which requires the greatest effort, the bigger portion of work, provides the answer that lasts the longest… and if it’s learning you want, I’d bet the quarters in my pocket you won’t prefer “short term.”

When we speak of learning, most folks are inclined to think of school aged and beyond, but this is true, too, for the younger crowd. In fact, babies learn better than “a whole lotta folks,” including their parents! The only thing is… those folks are the ones without a clue.

A lot of adults, well-seasoned – or they should be – folks are of the notion that “good” discipline should hurt: “That way, they’ll think ‘not to do it again’!” That is, in my opinion, “bass ackwards!” Think of time you’ve spent with a baby. It watches your every move, curious and interested. It is intent on your lips, close and moving, its eyes and all four limbs, moving, driven to excitement, struggling to “connect,” to somehow interpret the sounds it hears.

The problem is that too often that doesn’t transfer to one’s own baby, especially after it gets past the “Ooo… so sweet” stage. We forget the “stage of discovery,” the stage where little ones get their little feet whirring like egg beaters with little bubbles flying from their lips! Those little bubbles are “pre-words, pre-questions that they cannot yet ask!

Unfortunately, we shut down the burst, not taking the time to allow them to materialize, not giving them license to continue that age of discovery, when their little legs churn as their whole bodies attempt to grab the meaning and share it.

Don’t be afraid to repackage and send it back, even if a bit disguised, because it furthers, though… evaluation, learning. It’s the beginning of communication, understanding, participation… It’s a necessary step in communication.

Long ago, the phrase “in loco parentis” was popular in schools, high schools. Tracing the etymology, we learn that loco means, not crazy, but place (location). Taken together it said, “In place of parents.” Oftentimes – in fact, most of the time – people interpreted it very narrowly as teachers are substitute parents, so you must do what the teacher says (tells), or expect to receive punishment just as from your parents.

However, going back to the word disciple as taught in the Bible, the word means follower, with absolutely no connection to or hint of punishment!

If we – many of us – go back to our roots, we’ll find punishment highlighted. That is not the way to lead, nor is it the way to teach.

Rather, discipline means instruction, and when you think about it, how best can we lead our children, babies and biggies, than by filling their world with questions – theirs and ours!

Story Posted:11/19/2018

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