Sometimes I wonder why I resort to the Socratic method of asking questions while I am teaching. It makes perfect sense to me. You want students to think, use any form of reasoning, and provide an answer.

When that doesn’t work and I finish chuckling to myself, I continue to wonder why asking questions isn’t more productive. Have we fostered laziness and the need to be spoon-fed the learning that we impart? The alternative is that I’m asking the wrong questions.

Here’s a good example. A student asks if she can sit in the back of the room (out of my sight), on the floor, to work online. I ask why and the response is that Mrs. So-and-So allows it. That may be true but you haven’t answered the question.

Or there’s this. I tell the class to do a specific activity for thirty minutes and then do some other specific activity. As if immune to the sound of my voice, one by one, students approach me and inquire as to what they are to do next.

Maybe, we’re just not listening to each other and it’s that simple. Depending on the person and the source of information, we tend to tune everything or some things completely out of our consciousness. My husband never hears television commercials. I don’t know how he accomplishes it, but we can be watching a program, I comment on the commercial, and he has no idea what I mean.

Every now and then, I ask a student what he or she is doing. You might believe that the answers are straightforward and uncomplicated. But I get information that is totally irrelevant. Someone changed my profile. Can I go to the restroom? The girl next to me is drawing instead of doing her spelling. Is that really what you’re doing? Is that how you answer questions?

My guess is that they get away with this behavior at home where parents may or may not be listening. As Dr. Ruth so eloquently states, we have two ears and one mouth so we do twice as much listening as we do talking. And so, I will continue to ask questions. Shalom.

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