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How To Ask Critical Thinking Questions: Part 2 of 3

Developing critical thinking questions can be challenging for teachers. So, how do we create inquiries that drive critical thinking? Teachers should ask questions that create ongoing thinking. When we receive an answer from a student, we have given them permission to stop thinking. When the questions continue, the thought processes continue.

Making sure we cover content for students to recall is stopping their thinking processes.

We should:

· Provide content that encourages thinking.

· Provide content that requires thinking to encourage learning.

When students have quality questions, thinking and learning are occurring. Quality questions are the result of quality thinking. When the question, “Is this going to be on the test?” is asked, the student has stopped thinking and are not engaged in the learning process.

Inquiry drives or directs thinking. If we as educators do not continue to ask questions about our field of study, our profession would die. According to, “The Role of Socratic Questioning in Thinking, Teaching and Learning”, any intellectual field of study was born out of a field of questions.

This is why the continued debated question of, “What is the best practice we as educators can do to educate our children?,” is continuing to be asked, because we do not have an answer.

Stimulating critical thinking leads to deeper questioning. The practice of Socratic questioning is one form of critical thinking.

How to develop Socratic Classroom Questioning:

· Respond to all answers with a further question

· Seek to understand what the implications of the foundation of a question

· Realize that all questions come from prior questioning

To prepare these types of questions, what I found to be helpful was to pre-write my critical thinking and Socratic questions while writing my lesson plans. I would write them on an index card to refer.

The first time I asked the students this type of questioning was difficult. It seemed as though they were lost. I knew these types of questions would encourage the students to think, but the students just sat there in wonder.

After a few seconds (like 2 or 3) I quickly reverted back to a knowledge-based question. Now I realized that either I had to teach them how to think about answering these types of questions and/or I needed to give them more time to think. Critical thinking questions are not questions that can be answered as if someone is asking your name. This kind of answering is not on autopilot.

The answers to critical thinking and Socratic questions are not quick answers. They require more time to think of an answer. This was something I needed to make myself aware of. It’s okay to have the few seconds of wait time. The students are thinking.

What I did to teach the students how to think was to begin with knowledge-based inquiries as the first one or two questions I would ask. Then I would move further up the Bloom’s Taxonomy questioning tier and into the Socratic questioning.