P’s and Q’s

As a matter of good manners, we have often been reminded to mind our P’s and Q’s – to say Please and Thank Q. So when I read in “21st Century Skills” how the authors Bernie and Charles have creatively used P and Q, I was amused and thought it was quite clever (and you can gather my type of humour too).

They shared that the most powerful learning tools ever devised are: Problems and Questions. The P’s and Q’s are the foundation of two powerful approaches to gaining new knowledge: through Inquiry as in the work of scientists for Questions and through Design as in the work of Engineers.

Indeed, in the learning experience of students, if there are sufficient opportunities to deal with the P’s and Q’s, powerful learning will happen. Especially compared to learning that involves exam-centric questions and problems which requires mainly memorising and regurgitation, and at best some form of application.

Concerning Questions and Inquiry, Sugata Mitra‘s concept of SOLE (Self-Organized Learning Environments) is built around BIG questions (click here to get a toolkit for examples of BIG questions). Here are two examples:

– How do my eyes know to cry when I am sad?

– Can you kill a goat by staring at it?

These fascinating questions can ignite a learner’s curiosity.

And for an example of Problem and Design, how about getting students to design their own shoes which you can read about here?

So, all well-mannered teachers of the 21st Century, let’s mind our P’s and Q’s.


About pauseability

An educator at large and learner at heart. Founder of Pauseability. Encouraging everyone to learn to pause, and pause to learn.
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