Posted by: chrisdavis | April 24, 2012

Who Is Asking the Questions? – Part 2

Everyone knows the difference between teaching and learning. One has to do with what I (the teacher) think you need to know; the other has to do with what you (the learner) want to know, or need to know for the task you are currently performing.

When the teacher is asking the questions, the only way learning is taking place is if the student is engaged in dialog with the teacher. Otherwise, learning is not taking place if the learner is not the one initiating the questions.

Let’s say a child shows no interest in learning to read but the parent believes the student should be reading by a certain age. This is a common problem in homeschooling. Most adults believe learning is “age appropriate”, meaning a student should have learned certain tasks, and information, by a specific age. This idea comes from public schooling where age-segregated (grade-segregated) classes are a necessity. Such classes—and such an idea of learning—are not a necessity at home.

I say, rather, learning should be “maturity appropriate”, “task appropriate”, and/or “interest appropriate”. This idea comes from the mentality that every child is unique in his or her maturity, the present tasks in which they decide to involve themselves, or their current interests.

If a child is presently involved in tasks that don’t allow him time to learn to read, can we be secure enough as parents to allow the child to eventually arrive at a season when reading becomes either interesting or relevant—in the child’s mind—to pursue that discipline? One of my sons decided to learn to read at age 9 and another at age 10. The only one of my sons who is not a strong reader is the one I taught to read at age 6. That taught me a lesson.

Children love the world. They love to learn about it. The world is full of interesting things that intrigue children.

Can we allow our children to learn through that love?

In your homeschooling, who is asking the questions: you or your child?



  1. Hello. I appreciate what you are saying here, I love the concept of student initiated learning and believe it is most effective, but would like to ask a question. 🙂 I know Jesus was asked questions and then answered them, but didn’t He also ask good questions that engaged other’s minds and then instigated teaching as well? and also use object lessons from nature and circumstances to teach as well?

    • This is a great question. One of the most important elements of helping children learn is to model asking questions. Sometimes we “muse”, as in, “Hmmm, I wonder why the sky is blue but you rarely see a blue flower?” Or, “I wonder why some stars twinkle and others don’t?” A parent can even ask questions to which he/she knows the answers but not provide the answer after asking the question, leaving the question hang in the air..

      I believe one of the things Jesus did most effectively was to ask questions his hearers had in their hearts but had not yet articulated, or were afraid to articulate.

      Thanks for the comment. CD

  2. Thanks for asking this challenging question, Chris. It gives me much to think about. As I go through even this current “school day”, I will be watching to see who’s asking the questions! I feel like I still have so much to learn about this homeschooling journey, and yet my children aren’t getting any younger! It’s so good to have input from those who have walked this road before me.

    • You will do just fine, I know…CD

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