Several years ago, I was expecting a guest speaker in one of my courses. To prepare for the colleague’s visit, I asked my students what questions they had for the person. Silence. And not a quizzical silence, just a dead silence. I tried to prime the pump by repeating the guest’s research agenda as well as the topics of our course’s conversation. The response by students was underwhelming – the not so faint sound of crickets could be heard. I signaled my dismay by using a displeased tone of voice and reminded the students that they must have questions. In distress, a woman blurted out, “I don’t have any questions!” I realized she meant that she did not have any deficits. She thought questions only signaled what she was supposed to know, but did not. Questions, for her, were a confession of inadequacy, unpreparedness, and ignorance. I had failed to teach that questions were tools of curiosity and a method of inquiry to interact with the guest lecturer. Since that moment, I have been trying to cultivate and nurture student curiosity.
Read the whole post at Wabash.