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Asking, Learning, & S’mores

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Date posted: June 4, 2012

In a recent TEDx talk called “Igniting the Hope of Knowing,” Randy Wilhelm, CEO of Knovation, talks about tapping into kids’ innate curiosity to inspire learning. It’s an obvious approach—helping kids ask the right questions to learn what they need to learn. Kids are “living in questions,” constantly asking about things they don’t understand.

The problem in schools, however, is that adults are asking the wrong questions, he says. We ask “how intelligent are you” and measure that with tests. What students want to be asked, instead, is “how are you intelligent.” In far too many schools, the former is more common than the latter. “The currency of education is no longer in the question. The currency of education is in the answer.” Questions, the life blood of children’s curiosity and inquisitiveness, are frowned on. Children learn that “asking questions gets you marginalized.” On the other hand, memorizing what you’re given and parroting it back gets you recognized.

Is it any wonder, he asks, that kids are increasingly disengaged with schools, doing only the minimum necessary to get school work done as quickly as possible?

In a digital world with a knowledge economy, being able to ask the right question is a crucial skill that lies at the heart of creativity and innovation. Asking why has resulted in some of our greatest inventions and companies.

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, in which both Knovation and Cable in the Classroom are members, calls for instilling the 4 C’s (critical thinking, creativity & innovation, communication, and collaboration) into core subjects. That’s one way to return questions to the curriculum and “ignite the hope of knowing.” And what about s’mores? Watch the TEDx talk to find out.