How Does Your Question Garden Grow?

Question Garden
Day 8 of #AprilBlogADay Challenge asks "How do we foster question asking instead of answer getting?" I think of this similar to farming. The conditions have to be just right to cultivate a garden of questions. The farmer walks the land, tills and fertilizes the soil to create ideal growing conditions. Teachers do the same with the relationships they build with students and their families along with the classroom culture they help create and sustain. Then, the farmer plants their seeds and nurtures the environment by making sure the seedlings continue to experience ideal conditions for growth. The teacher does the same by facilitating learning experiences that help generate question seeds. They may even jumpstart the experience with an essential question.

But the next part of farming and teaching takes tremendous restraint and patience. Crops, just like questions, are not ready for immediate harvest. They need time to grow. It's hard to not automatically jump in, "pick" a question and provide an answer. A question answered too soon loses the ability to bloom into something more. We do kids no favors by jumping in and providing answers when we see struggle.  Rather, if we continue to nourish questions and maintain ideal  growing conditions, the questions will reach higher and higher. Questions will branch and cross-pollinate and create a garden unrecognizable from your initial vantage point.   This search for answers to student generated questions will produce a bountiful harvest that provides a great depth of understanding. As a crop of questions live out in a classroom, they provide essential nourishment for the next crop. And the cycle begins anew.

Update 4/9/15: After initially posting this, through the power of social media I became of aware of a much deeper and thoughtful analysis of Teacher as Farmer by Grant Lichtman on Edutopia.  Definitely worth a read!