After reading the Hargie text ‘Finding out about others: the skill of questioning’ I believe the main aim of this chapter is to emphasise the importance of questions, to force the reader to think more deeply about the questioning process, the differences in various situations, the wording of questions, different types and the impact these have which most people haven’t previously thought so deeply about.
One of the main themes in this chapter is the importance of children asking questions and Parents taking time to answer these questions in order for them to make sense of the world around them (Cook, 2009). This is why the next part of the chapter is particularly important for teachers to read and understand as children ask substantially more questions at home than at school (Tizard et al, 1983). When research was carried out into questioning in the classroom one of the main reasons Daly et al found was that children were more willing to ask more questions in the classroom if they felt accepted by their classroom teacher this is backed up by evidence by, those who felt accepted by their teacher asked more questions (Daly et al, 1994). This emphasises the important job you have as a teacher in order to ensure your pupils feel comfortable with you so they feel safe and confident to ask questions (Daly et al 1994) and expand their learning in the classroom.
Another key theme which also links to children asking questions in the classroom is the importance of feeling comfortable in our surroundings in order to be confident enough to ask proficient questions. Katz et al found that patients often don’t ask doctors questions as they didn’t want to appear ignorant and when patients did ask questions there were signs of discomfort in their speech such as speech disturbances (Brashers et all, 2002:259). The doctor here is similar to the teacher in the classroom, the patient must feel confident enough to ask the doctor questions and not question their own intelligence.
Another aspect of the chapter is the importance of choosing the correct wording in order to formulate the type of question you want to use and altering the types of question in various different situations. If you want to make someone feel comfortable and encourage them to talk to you closed questions may be more appropriate. However, in certain situations where the questioner may want someone to talk longer and express themselves on a deeper level an open question may be more appropriate (Breakwell et al, 2006). There are several different types of questions and it is also a skill to master when is the best time to use each type of question.
This was an extremely interesting article to read especially as I am one day hoping to have my own class and I have taken on board some of the advice given in this chapter including the importance of both asking questions and these questions being answered, to children and some of the reasons children may not be asking questions, in order to minimise this in my own practice.
One part of the chapter I would argue is outdated is the use of the line ‘parents taking time to answer these’ this is an important point however we no longer live in a world where only the parents are responsible for raising their child. It is just as crucial for anyone important in the child’s life to answer these questions including aunts, uncles, grandparents, teachers and guardians being just a few.
Hargie, O. (2011) Skilled Interpersonal Communication: Research, Theory and Practice. 5th ed. London: Routledge.