Focus on what we Don’t know

First, I have to say that Warren Berger’s book, (2014) A More Beautiful Question is an amazing read. It is truly eye opening and inspiring. It inspired me so much, that I took out some anchor chart paper and wrote a list of my own burning questions about my experiences as both a learner and as a teacher.


There were multiple points in the chapters I read that resonated with me  – my entire book is written up with notes! One point that stood out is that asking questions doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re being “disrespectful” or “questioning authority” (Berger, 2014). This is a major reason why some people feel uncomfortable asking questions at the workplace or during other similar situations.

As much as this section stood out to me, there was another part that really resonated with me. It was a student quote about Deborah Meier’s school. “What’s different about this school is you’re interested in what we don’t  know, not just what we do know” (Berger, 2014, p.50).

This stood out to me because in our society, everything seems to be test centered, not student centered. If we could focus on what students don’t know, and what they’re actually interested in learning, we could really begin to teach them while filling in any gaps in their education. At the same time, we are empowering them to take charge of their education and learn about topics of interest through exploration and group projects. By doing this, we can help instill learning that will result in a well rounded, knowledgeable 21st century citizen.

My classroom is very student centered. I strive to give them the tools and confidence they need to take charge of their educational experience by encouraging creativity and student choice.

However, during the reading for this week, I did find one thing I am guilty of that I plan on changing during the upcoming school year. I am guilty of passing off questions or pushing them away due to time constraints because I want to finish my lesson.

I realized that this is detrimental to my students’ natural curiosity and furthers the process Berger talked about for “why we stop questioning”. I don’t want to be a contributing factor for stifling my scholars’curiosity, but instead, someone who motivates them to think outside the box, conduct research and pose exciting questions to find solutions to problems.

An idea I had to combat this process while still allowing me to teach my lesson is giving the scholars a “thinkpad”. This could be a notebook or a Chromebook computer or anything else they want to use for recording their thoughts. During the lesson if they have an amazing thought or question, they can simply record it, and I will answer it as soon as I’m available. This was one idea I had, I am definitely open to more suggestions or other methods that have been proven to work effectively in a classroom setting.

I am very excited to continue to dive in to this book and learn all that I can in order to prepare my scholars for a changing world and to teach my colleagues about how important questioning is – whether it be from a student, to your principal or anyone between.


Berger, W. (2014). Why we stop questioning. A more beautiful question: The power of inquiry to spark breakthrough ideas. (pages 39-70). New York. Bloomsbury


One thought on “Focus on what we Don’t know

  1. I really like the questions that you chose to write on the anchor chart paper, and the fact that you also chose to tape this on your wall near the light switch- good location- the first thing you’ll see when you turn on the light!
    Sierra: “I am guilty of passing off questions or pushing them away due to time constraints because I want to finish my lesson.”
    I can really relate to this. it seems that there just isn’t enough time in the day sometimes. I’m sure for your students there are so many questions (based on Berger’s numbers on the amount of questions that children are asking at this age). It’s easy to see why as we get older our questions are squelched (as he puts it). The overriding need for educators to have a controlled classroom is likely the reason behind it in part. These project based learning environments (PBL) would have seemed odd when i was that age. My teachers I’m sure would have seen them as a gateway to pure chaos. Learning about maker spaces and maker culture has really changed my mind on this however. It seems that there are ways to let go of some of the control, while at the same time, enabling students to be productive (maybe much more productive).


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