Thursday, January 9, 2014

Teaching through questions

Remember that old saying?

"Teach a man to fish and you'll feed him for a day.  Unless that man was just asking you for directions and now is confused why you gave him a fish."  Or something like that, anyways.

Something I try to do more and more when I'm teaching is to answer a question by asking a question.  While that can be annoying when handled poorly, it's a great tool to make the person find the answer on their own.

There's generally two outcomes from this: they answer it right or wrong.  Sure, sometimes they might get close or "in the ballpark", but still.

If they get it wrong, at least you made them think about it!  And that is huge.  It makes them less reliant on being spoon-fed and then you can tell/show them the answer.  If they get it right, even better!  You've now shown them that they knew the answer all along, but didn't have the confidence to believe it.

Is this always the right approach?  Absolutely not.  If you're teaching something totally unfamiliar or teaching people brand new to the art, this just becomes frustrating.  You also have to know the answer to the question asked you, and not just use it as a deflection. 

Finally, even if you don't teach or assist, you can use this concept to ask yourself the question before you ask it of the instructor.

Questions can be helpful, but also used as a tool to help a student come to the right answers!

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