Sometimes my students lead me down a bunny trail. One question leads to another and, before we know it, we’re Through the Looking Glass. A discussion about atomic structure leads to nuclear weapons, which leads to World War 2, which leads to racism, which leads to genetics. We meander into and out of science. The students ask questions that I do my best to answer if none of them has an answer. Somebody hops on a computer or their phone and looks up an answer if we get stumped. The really good questions we write down to come back to later. Those are some of the best moments in any class.
The thing that I’m always striving for with my students is to inspire a genuine “need to know.” I want them to be so immersed in their learning that the need answer a burning question leads them down the rabbit hole of learning. Those are the days when the bell rings (I hate school bells, by the way) and the kids say, “class is over already? Do we have to go to next period? Can’t we just stay here?”
We need to teach students to ask and answer their own questions. Teach them to ask great questions and to challenge themselves to discover the evidence they need to infer their own answer. Teach them to explain and defend that answer to their peers and to the world. Teach them to question the answers.