Jamie Mackenzie, an American educator and creator of fno.org coined the phrase 'The Question is the Answer' over 20 years ago. While the reference he used on his website related to developing effective questions to conduct research it can also be used powerfully to help guide student's decision making when it comes to their learning in general and more specifically their study skills and academic achievement. As educators and parents we can offer lots of advice and make suggestions about what students should do but by putting the onus back on the child to answer to strategic questions not only forces the student / child to become reflective but also empowers them to create their own solutions.
So what sort of questions are we talking about... here are a few to get you started both as an educator and parent.
What are your favourite (and least favourite) subjects and why? Do you think this impacts on how successful you are in each one? How can you change your thinking / mindset about subjects that you don't like to make them easier to handle?
What are the key skills that you need in each of your subjects to succeed? (e.g easy writing, calculations, remembering large amounts of information, analysing text etc.) How good are you at these skills? What do you need to do to improves them? What might be a goal you can set yourself that will help you improve that skill? (e.g doing a practice essay every week).
If the student failed a test you might ask - what are three things you learned from this test? What are you going to do differently next time?
To help a student understand their learning style you may ask - when can you remember information most effectively? When you hear it, see it, speak about it with friends, draw it in a picture?
When in the day is the most effective / least effective time for you to learn and remember things? The most effective time will be when you should aim to focus on learning new information. The least effective time is when you either go and have a beak, do exercise or socialise or undertake 'low stakes' academic activities.
These are just a few ideas of the kinds of questions you can ask - the trick it to ask more questions about what a student should do in a situation rather than you tell them what they should do. This could be the difference between empowering and disempowering them.
We are experienced educators passionate about students achieving their potential, and believe that to do this they need highly developed and personalised learning and study skills