Recently I made an observation: In educational contexts, such as schools or universities, pupils and students are sometimes encouraged to ask questions. A special time slot is prepared where someone looks expectant in the room, waiting for someone to raise their hand or voice. 

My observation, from my own behavior and from others, was that this is often seen as another exercise by the students. So instead of really thinking about what interests them and what they want to know or understand they ask questions about which they think that their teacher would like to hear them or that they are 'the kind of questions that one is expected to ask in this situation/to this topic'. Also I think staring expectantly in the room seems to encourage people ask any kind of question, no matter how uninterested in the answer they might be, just to avoid the uncomfortable silence. 

Does anyone know what I mean and/or knows where this has been described before? And how can you encourage more creative and genuinely interested questions. Or is this just something that people like me do, who are quite used and trained in appealing to educational authorities (General critique on the incentives in the school system...) and I need to be more aware of my motives of asking questions?

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I've experienced this while playing multiple student roles. As the high school class clown, I loved these moments because they have me a chance to crack whatever joke I had been honing during the lecture. As the bored college student, I just stared at my notes and waited for someone else to speak. And on the rare occasion I was engaged I found them trite and annoying because if I had questions... then either I asked them mid lecture, or I figured it out on my own, or I had become hopelessly lost twenty minutes ago and fixing my broken mental model would take far more time than appropriate.

Maybe I'm being naive, but I think teachers know that and judge that having such a designated question space is still worthwhile for when there are real questions (instead of expecting students to interrupt the flow of a lecture, which many won't do and which may be disruptive, or them not asking at all and just being confused), and worst case they get asked to rephrase or repeat things they already said, which isn't a bad thing anyway. And once in a while a question might lead to an interesting discussion.

If one uses such time to actually ask questions it can break the situation. The time scheduled tends to be pretty constnat and as few as 5 questions can break a 1 hour or 2 hour session flow. This is especially jarring if the director of the situation encourages questions and treats curiosity as a virtue.

If one genuinely wnat sto encourage activity form the audience it can mean that there needs to be a seesaw on how the situation goes depedning whether audience participates or not. OFten there are talk points or facts to cover and sneaking them into answers to questions that point in random directions requires a very different skill than delivering a strongly manuscripted tight presentation.

A lot of educational situations are strctured so that they are unable to reward activity on the action level even if on speech level that is lauded.