THE BLOG
03/19/2014 11:52 am ET Updated May 18, 2014

EdTech and the Changing Role of Teachers Puts Questions in Different Mouths

I read recently about a study in Communication Education that said that a "normal" child asks one question per subject per month. Separate research in the British Education Research Journal, (yeah, yeah, not comparable data) shows teachers asking pupils 291 questions a day.

So what's more important? Asking questions or knowing answers? Those who ask more questions would, you would guess, have a greater curiosity about life, knowledge, the world around them. The entrepreneurs, the scientists, the thinkers we admire are the ones who ask more questions, or at least are the ones who question everything. So, surely, we should make sure that children get into the habit of asking questions -- at least as much as getting them in the habit of answering them.

Yet we don't. We still posit the teacher as the unprompted giver of knowledge, as well as the inquisitor of those with fewer facts in their brain. But is that about the most efficient way of transferring understanding, or simply the best method of authority and crowd control?

There are lots of conversations about technology in the classroom, most of them inconclusive. But with all the chunter, about the flipped classroom and changing the mechanic of learning and the rest, shouldn't we flip the balance of power in the classroom instead? Shouldn't children be asking the questions and teachers providing the answer?

Technology is starting to disrupt the education model and EdTech is an arena where the end user often know more than those in charge of supply, lazy stereotypes and guidance like GEDB notwithstanding. In an age of Google, facts are no longer the sacred currency of the teacher. In a digital age, the process of teaching is no longer beholden to the teacher. What they have left to pass on is understanding. And what's the best way to pass on that understanding? To ask questions, or to answer them?