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The role of questions

The role of questions

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Unanswerable questions should be a source of comfort. They ensure that you will always have something to think about! But why do puzzlements provide satisfaction? Because they invite the most precious of human abilities to take wing. I speak of imagination, the neglected stepchild of American education.

-Eliot Eisner


My Colorland has trees, birds, clouds, bushes and grass.  And when the wind blows my coconut trees, the coconut trees can transform into animals like giraffes.  And when the wind blows again, they can transform into other animals like, and alligator.       ~Keithen

Recently, we talked with the children about questions.  We presented the children with the following idea, “At Opal School, you hear your teachers asking many, many questions.   Most of the time, you’ll notice that the questions we ask don’t have just one answer.  These kind of questions are truly exciting because it invites all of us to wonder and imagine together.  We ask questions as a way to get to know your thinking—because we don’t know the answer, and we want to be inspired by your ideas.  Asking questions is a way that we can play with you—so let’s play!”

We explained that one idea we are going to keep asking questions about is the place the children call Colorland.   Some children have said, “maybe next time we go out, we will find a new Colorland.”   We have also heard children say, “In my colorland there is a…”  These ideas sparked us to wonder if Colorland is a metaphor for the children’s imagination, inspired by images and experiences the children have found in the beauty of intellegent materials and the natural world.

We invited the children to imagine, “If you were to go out into nature and find your own Colorland to play in—what would the land look like?  What kinds of natural things would you like to find there?  To play on, climb in, play with?  Would they be different than that things you find in nature, or the same?”


Loving the questions:

•to provoke thinking
•to allow imagination to ‘take wing’
•to inspire curiosity
•to open possibility
•to communicate expectations
•to find out more
•to nurture a playful attitude

The children used a variety of materials to play articulate their ideas.  Here are some of their responses to the question:  What do you imagine the landscape of Colorland to look like?

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There is a tiger bird and trees.  Tiger birds have orange beaks.  They fight fire fish that live down with the worms.                  ~AG




Zehren Colorland Landscape 2.1.11 What do you imagine the Landscape of Colorland to look like Zehren
It’s in a meadow with lots of plants and flowers.  There is one special place in Colorland.  If you open the door, there is rainbow grass.  There is a Colorland egg in a crate made out of stones so no one can get through it.  In the egg is a Colorland bush baby.                        ~ ZB

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There is a dinosaur and palm trees and bushes.  There is an Octopus sitting on a chair made of a pink berry.  There are coconuts that have fallen from a tree.  There are flowers and a dinosaur is carrying three coconuts on its back, and there is a square shaped sun.       SS

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February 04, 2011