Reward the Good Questions Not the Good Answers


I currently teach the 6th grade  accelerated math (known in other schools has honors) class and gifted education.  After 10 years of parenting and reflection into my prior teaching practices, I came to the conclusion to add a candy jar but not for giving me the right answers.  Students can earn a treat for asking a good question.  It must be a question that requires more research, more reasoning, more discussion and not a question that can be answered by a simple google search.

Our greatest accomplishments started with a “what if?”   — What if we could land on the moon?  What if phones could go on the internet like computers?  These accomplishments started with good questions, not good answers.

Sometimes the good answers even hinder what we can accomplish.  Andrew Wiles solved Fermat’s last theorem but the answer was wrong at first.  He didn’t give up and stop asking questions.  He did solve it after his first presentation.  In 2017, an 11 year old developed a better and cheaper way of detecting lead in the water.  We had an answer already to lead detection and scientists have been detecting lead in the water for years. But she kept asking questions – is there a better way?  Is there a cheaper way?  And that is how she invented a new lead detection device that works over bluetooth that is cheaper and more convenient than current methods.

When your child gets home from school or students enter your classroom, ask for the good questions.  Ask them what good questions they asked today.  Not what they got right.

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