Taught to Question

When I was in graduate school, the professor in my very first class session began by instructing us to question everything. He was passionate about this declaration, clearly evident in the spraying spit as he glared out at us. This was an exercise science, physiology and biomechanics program based heavily upon peer-reviewed research. He instructed us to question each and every word that he vocalized and assigned in our class meetings and readings. Let me reiterate… we were instructed to question the very research that would instruct and inform us during our time in the program. I learned that this is precisely what happens in any reputable field of research. Again, question that which most people look to as authoritative and primary source documentation of a subject.

I was taught to question.

Lately, Twitter is failing me. Today I had an exchange on Twitter where I put this to practice in my own community of practice. While the exchange was hardly equivalent to the research mentioned above, I had a question in regards to the practice of creating fake Facebook walls for historical/fictional characters. I didn’t “get it”. I questioned it. I stated it seemed contrived and also seemed like an online worksheet. I also asked what was next… what action/learning experience follows the creation of and discussion around a “fakebook” profile?

I wanted to know.

Back to my mention of peer-reviewed research. I believe a community of practice (made up of peers in a practice) should allow this line of questioning in whatever spaces are available/used. I respect those that were posting the information, they’ve taught/shared a thing or two with me before. Because of this I felt comfortable tweeting my questions. Apparently it was not welcomed and received as me merely liking to argue. Nothing could be further from the truth. You can imagine my disappointment.

I claim no expertise in any niche or corner of education or the EdTech community of practice. What I do claim is the right to question, as a participant in a community of practice and for the benefit of those in the community and those I work with/for, the content that is posted within the community. Since we are striving to teach our students that posting on the Internet results in feedback and critical questioning, I think we would do well to remember this as we post there as well. I certainly try to. If I don’t, it is your right to call me on it.

Being taught to question was one of the most important and powerful lessons I will always remember. It has served me well and will continue to do so.

I will still question. You should too.

4 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Brian — excellent post….I am sorry, however, I had missed your question….it would have been a good discussion.

    Once, long time ago, while I was in a teenage Bible Study — our pastor told us to put away our Bibles and just listen to what he said. At the end, he asked if anyone had any questions….no one did….and then he blasted us……he said “never ever accept anything anyone says when they tell you to just listen…..you must challenge, you must think for yourself…..you must or you will always remain just a combloboration of everyone else’s thinking”. He then told us to pull out our Bibles, and did the lesson again, and we saw how he had twisted so many things….. (just FYI, he had told all our parents in advance this was his plan, and no one was allowed to leave until the end of the Bible Study — so no one left with unverified questions.)

    That was over 30+ years ago…..and I have never forgotten — and in a lot of ways, it has made me not a favorite in a lot of venues because I question so much and am highly skeptical of so much. I was taught by one person I trusted much — to be willing to question back — and I do so often.

    So , back to your post — forgive me for my trek down memory lane — I do need to ask though —
    a) is our network willing to be challenged and be willing to think differently — sadly, I am not seeing that. I see a lot of bobbing heads…..I see a lot of if you disagree, then I will just unfollow.
    b) are the educators on twitter the same educators in their classroom? and I don’t know. we talk about learning spaces, we talking about new opportunities, new options, literacies, openness, 21st century — yet, look how sessions still are run at conferences….everyone comes in, sits at desks or rows, and waits to be fed information. And even the most “uncamp” of conferences still waver very closely to the 20th century classroom.

    I think you are touching on a very “touchy” conversation and it will be interesting to see how it brews.

    I thank you for bringing this up. I wrote an article a few weeks ago about the twitterverse that caused a bit of conversation — and am pleased you are stirring the pot as well.


    1. Jennifer, thanks for visiting and your comment.

      a) “the network” should always be prepared to be challenged, we expect those around us to be as well as our students. We should too. If they are not, there will be some hard lessons.

      b) Whether this happened on Twitter or elsewhere I try to be the same person. I try not to give easy answers nor accept easy answers (hence the questioning).

      I’m not sure I’d put this in the touchy category (for me at least) and I don’t feel as though I’m stirring the pot. I will admit this exchange is a bit of a mountain out of a mole hill example, but it stirred something inside of me as I’ve been thinking lots about face-to-face and online dispositions. I merely questioned something I did not understand. Even as I had begun to understand where the stream was going, I invoked my right to question the practice for myself and those I work with and for. As I mentioned, questioning is what true communities of practice do. It’s acceptable and anyone who is posting online, speaking face-to-face should expect that someone will, can and should question it.

  2. I happened to catch this exchange and was surprised by it. I thought you had a valid question (although I could see some fun uses for fake facebook walls) and the response was unexpected. I wondered at the time if it was a rough day and therefore these responses were not the norm. I don’t know.

    I hope, and I think you do to, that folks will push me and question me in order to help me focus my thinking and clarify it. Keep asking.

    1. Jenny, It was a bit of a surprise to me, but as I replied to Jennifer W. above, I think it stirred some deeper thoughts/beliefs within me. I will say that there are times when I can push too much (ask my wife and children), but I don’t think this was a time when I did so.

      Call me crazy, but I love it when people question me about the things I do. I have to wade through the thoughts and urges to defend my practice to really listen/reflect on what one is saying about it. This is all good.

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