Teaching with Questions
Jun 27, 2016 · 339 words

Long ago, in my early days of junior high AVID, I was taught to teach and lead by asking questions. The most effective way to get a person to understand a concept is to guide them to the conclusion with questions. This way, the learn the concept for themselves.

For example, today I was trying to teach one of my interns how a form tag worked in HTML. She was hung up on it needing to be next to the button that would submit the form. This is a completely understandable association for someone new to HTML and web development to make. One of the most difficult barriers to overcome in learning web development is all of the magic happening between the HTML, the browser, and the server.

What I should have done was continually asked her questions probing her understanding of how forms work in HTML. Questions like “when the submit button is pressed, what happens?” or “what types of elements can go into a form?“. Questions like these would have helped her see that it doesn’t matter what HTML is between a form tag and button. She would have learned that for herself more than likely committing it to memory.

Instead, I taught her by example. While extremely effective in the moment, this method of teaching is usually ineffective at long term understanding. I had her walk through the steps of rebuilding the form with her verifying at each step of the way that the changes we made didn’t change the function. She had many epiphany moments as I walked her through the edits. But, I know that those will be short-lived as we have been through some of these before. Had I stuck to the method I know to work, I am sure she would be in a better position.

So, I need to keep on myself with being a good teacher for the longevity of their education rather than the quick and simple getting it done in the moment type of education I delivered today.

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