Some Metaquestions ..
The questions posted in the previous post (see ‘small science and asking questions’) got me pondering about what the nature of questions in Science are. Two of the categories in which children’s questions fell…that is those in the tautological and teleological categories invoked a final intention or cause (explicitly in the case of tautological questions and implicitly in the case of tautological questions) and I realized that when I tried to answer them, I tried to answer ‘how’ the phenomenon in question happens and not ‘why’ they happened at all.
One of my colleagues, Mashood, pointed out that modern science and the modern spirit of inquiry took root when there was a shift in the way questions were asked from ‘why’ to ‘how’ questions. Apparently it started with Galileo who asked ‘how do bodies fall?’ instead of ‘why do bodies fall’ which Greek philosophers before his time where interested in asking.
During my classroom observations at AK Joshi School I found that children do occasionally come up with ‘how’ questions while they were doing the lessons which were not addressed immediately by the teacher. This points to the situated nature of ‘how’ questions. There is a possibility of many ‘how’ questions being generated while children are being engaged in an activity or interrogating phenomena. Although It may not be possible to answer all the questions…especially in a classroom of over 50 children… it would be worthwhile to get the children to jot down the questions in ‘ask a question’ section…
Please do share interesting questions from your children’s workbooks with us. (email: email@example.com)
— Aswathy Raveendran