Why Parents and Teachers Should Ask PEDAGOGICAL Questions

 A curriculum is relevant only to the extent it touches the inner lives of our students—  their emotions, aspirations, imaginations, fears, resentments, moral values, curiosities, ideals, and their sense of order.

When you introduce Pedagogy into a conversation about what you do in the classroom, your colleagues and supervisors are forced to acknowledge— or ignore— how children naturally and developmentally learn.

Skillfully move your school’s instructional agenda away from Numbers and Data towards Educational Pedagogy which is based on your children’s biological and social development, brain science, and on recognizing multiple intelligences.

Sample PEDAGOGICAL Questions

How is this good for ten year old boys?

Why are we doing this?

How will this help students to learn?

How does this fit into the whole middle school/elementary/high school education?

Why are we doing this?

How does this meet the needs of our students, developmentally?

How does this correlate to our mission statement and/or vision statement?

Why use a test?

How do tests measure success?

What is the evidence that this is age-appropriate?

How does this requirement help balance the instructional day for our students?

Why are we doing this?

When money was allocated for these test prep materials, activities and professional development sessions, what was the cost? What priority had tobecut from the budget to make way for test preparation and teacher evaluations tied to test results?

Should little children use stubby crayons or thin crayons?

Is it developmentally sound or unsound for a beginning young actor to play a character far more complex than she is?

Will children from neighborhoods with high asthma rates benefit from growing up playing the recorder in their classes?

Are dance competitions recommendable for very little kids?

Is the act of teaching children cognitive thinking skills at younger and younger stages in their growth and development desirable for children? What do child psychologists say? Pediatricians? Seasoned kindergarten and nursery teachers?

Again, why are we doing this?

In his autobiography, Frank Lloyd Wright claimed that he learned the geometry of architecture through kindergarten play with blocks.

What is the evidence that this is age-appropriate?

“Play-rich classrooms are mostly gone, replaced by didactic drilling of literacy and math “skills,” worksheets, and, increasingly, standardized testing. Few Americans are aware that the Germans had this same idea in the 1970s, when they switched from playful kindergartens to “centers for cognitive achievement.” But they set up a long-term study comparing the results of 50 play-based classrooms with 50 academic ones. By age 10 the children who had played in kindergarten excelled over the others in reading, math, social and emotional adjustment, creativity, intelligence, oral expression, and “industry.” As a result, Germany went back to a play-based approach to early education.”

Alliance for Childhood’s “Crisis in the Kindergarten”


What should determine the content of curriculum, K- 12?

Are there themes and issues at certain developmental stages of a child’s growth which are analogous to themes and issues we can externalize through the curriculum? Isn’t eighth grade the best time, for example, to teach American History— when 14 year olds are at that rebellious stage themselves?

When is the appropriate time to teach children about dinosaurs, for example, and the corresponding concept of extinction? Pedagogically, we learn to think of the dinosaur, not just as a gigantic, extinct reptile which lived at a certain geological period in pre-History, but also as an archetype existing within the primal inner recesses of a child’s imagination.

“Show your Tyrannosaurus claws! Show your Tyrannosaurus teeth!”

“Let’s paint a panorama of the primeval jungle!”

“Let’s choreograph a ‘Dance of the Dinosaurs.’

“What muscles do dinosaurs use?”


For what purpose are we teaching this?

How will this stimulate creativity in our children?

How will this promote independent thinking in our children?

How will this reinforce cooperation in our children?

When we teach the ARTS, just how necessary is it to ground a child’s creative experience within rationality, reflection, and conceptualization?

Once more, why are we doing this?

Does learning take place from the Outside-IN— or the INSIDE-out?

From the point of view of today’s educational decision-makers, teaching is an outside-in exchange.

The teacher is supposed to take whatever society tells him to teach, and make the child learn it.

From that outside-in point of view, the instructional content of what gets taught is completely inorganic. It does not matter what you teach children, nor when, so long as you find the right way to cram it in.

Socrates—through skillful questioning— gets an illiterate slave boy, Meno, to recapitulate the Pythagorean Theorem. What this tells Socrates is that the kid already knew it, not in his conscious memory, perhaps, but in the syntax of his soul, so to speak.

So, the role of the teacher is to instruct the child from the INSIDE-out.

The Socratic Method, pedagogically, accounts for teaching human beings who have an inner life, inborn wisdom.

The American system of public education is essentially run by Educational Materialists who think that children are empty inside.

Writing about the methods of Socrates, his teacher, Plato specifically warned against imposing the force of adult Will to motivate children’s learning. He’s all for motivation from within, going with the flow of the child’s natural imagination.

Plato’s pedagogy has been part of educational practice for nearly 2,500 years— until now.

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