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Colton Cutchens

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How much of a right do students have to questioning and independent thinking?

What is your opinion on how much students should be allowed to question? Do they have the right to question if they may see a logical fallacy? If so, how far are they allowed to question it? Why?

In addition: I understand teachers try to allow students to question, but sometimes are limited by the administration (and/or bureaucracy). Why is this?

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    • Jan 10 2013: It is an interesting example...but it is only a pretend example(at least it was in your original posting, nice edit to turn fiction into an outright lie). If it actually happened, that would be something to talk about. So far, no one has given any real examples of why this entire thread has any bearing on reality.

      Bottom line is this. Academia encourages free thought and questioning like no other place on earth. We have all been to school, and we all know this to be true.
      • Jan 10 2013: I'm currently an undergraduate student at University. I have encountered lecturers and tutors who are less than open to questions. Carolyn's example is not necessarily far from the truth -- I have recently challenged the views of a lecturer, supporting my argument with academic writers, and been told that I am categorically wrong, and I'm not the only student to have found this. I'm not saying that all lecturers are like this, but those that close down questioning are undoing the work done by those who encourage it. If students feel like they are being routinely closed down, and their opinions and arguments ignored, they'll soon stop asking.

        Whilst I agree that students must ask questions to progress, it is a shame when those entrusted with facilitating learning do not encourage questions. I would suggest that lectures and seminars with two way exchanges provide the best learning, as it is these that promote new and inspired thinking.

        Furthermore, might I suggest that we have all been to different schools, in different areas, some of us in different countries following different curriculums. We have all had different teachers and our experiences are unique to us. What is true for you may not be true for us all.

        In answer to the original question, I believe that students have an absolute right to question everything. Critical thinking is vital to improving our society. University students are paying for their education, and so I believe they have an absolute right to ask anything, as it is the Universities job to facilitate them by pointing them in the right direction to find the answers to their questions.
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          Jan 10 2013: OH I see now! You think it is the INSTRUCTOR that shuts down student questions! Of course you would think that because you do not see what goes on behind the scenes.

          If I have those one or two people that sit in the front row that continually ask questions, (you all know who I am talking about. They lurk in the literal front row of every college class.) And I continue to address their questions as if they are valid, the rest of the class is stopping me in the hall, emailing me, going to my boss, giving evaluation feedback that I cannot control my class and that I have two favorite people in the front row that I pay attention to and don't pay any attention to any one else.

          And in part the rest of the class is right.

          So we quickly learn how to either leverage the questions from the front row for humor purposes or just start to ignore them. If that does not work, we will resort to whatever measures it takes to get them to be on par with the rest of the class, eg. "Good question. I would like an answer in a three page paper by next class period and you can present your findings to the class so everyone can learn." That one works like a charm.

          After all, two bad evals are not gonna look as bad as 75 bad evals. It also makes them learn to ask the RIGHT QUESTION!
        • Jan 10 2013: Rohan, did it ever occur to you that maybe you ACTUALLY WERE categorically wrong?

          Rohan said: "Carolyn's example is not necessarily far from the truth "

          Carolyn's 'example' was fiction. It was not an example at all.
        • Jan 10 2013: @Linda... I really love your stories. They are practical examples of actually teaching. They illustrate the time management constraints very well. I've often been that student up front, mostly because I love to talk!! lol but I do love it when others chime up and participate.

          I had one professor tell me later on that he loved my participation, but wanted to make sure I understood that he couldn't always call on me.. I completely understood.
        • Jan 11 2013: Much of the answer lies in the ground rules set at the beginning of a session. This way even the two at the front that wont give it a rest know where they stand. It also promotes a safe as well as comfortable environment to learn in. It protects the folks who are worried their ideas will be attacked or mocked whilst allowing the big talkers to still feel good about their participation. Remembering that we are all only human also helps.
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          Jan 12 2013: It is ...is it ironic that here of all places we meet the attitude that we are protesting against? the kind that makes one defensive rather than open to discussion? An ugly attitude that seems to belittle a true topic of concern into some muddy triviality?

          The world is changing. I believe that Teachers and employers once had a relationship that made us students desperate to learn - to secure a future. But Students are more and more becoming their own employers. We make the new world.

          I promise you Carolyn Statistics mean very little and I appreciate the courage it took to relate your truth.

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