Never accept the first answer!

Ask a question, get an answer, move on. Does that sound familiar? But is the first answer really the best answer? I don’t think so. I tend to find that the first answer is rarely the best answer so I don’t accept it. My favourite response to the first answer is ‘anything else?’ and I tend to keep saying that until I’m satisfied that there really is nothing else. When you ask an open-ended question like ‘Tell me about cognitive conflict’ you can keep digging deeper and deeper into what a student actually knows about it with repeated use of ‘anything else’. It’s like peeling off the layers of an onion to eventually find a little nugget of gold at the centre, but you won’t get to the gold if you don’t keep peeling.

Another way of doing this is to simply not respond following the answer. Perhaps give a little nod or gesture as acknowledgement of the first answer, but then wait. Don’t jump in. Just because an answer has come out doesn’t mean that the brain has stopped working. Give the student time to process and search for their best answer and you’ll be amazed at what comes out.

Lastly, humans have a tendency to rush their verbal responses to questions. There seems to be a need to give an answer so as not to appear rude or stupid. But brains need time to work and it’s up to you to give those brains the breathing space that they need to work at their full potential. Just wait… and never accept the first answer.

Thanks for reading,



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