Why do kids’ questions fall off a cliff?

Daniel Pink comments on an alarming trend in education

The School CliffSaw the question above posted as a headline on the terrific blog done by the author Daniel Pink. In this post, Pink is responding to a Gallup poll showing that student engagement drops dramatically as kids move from elementary school through high school.

Check out the green line on the chart to get a sense of how steep the decline is. The story behind the chart can be found in this Gallup blog post which explains that the longer kids stay in school, the less engaged they become. Gallup identifies one of the prime culprits—the “overzealous focus on standardized testing.”

As readers of this blog will know, I’ve been exploring this issue for a while, and it clearly ties in with questioning. As kids advance through school, they tend to stop asking questions. Their focus, thanks to our current test-based education system, is on memorizing answers. And a lot of them lose interest altogether.

Kudos to Gallup for investigating this issue, and to Dan Pink for spotlighting it. By the way, Pink’s latest book, To Sell is Human, identifies questioning as one of the keys to successful selling.

» Want still more? Click on this graphic to read all the articles on this site about Kids & Questioning, and check out my popular Edutopia article “5 Ways to Help Your Students Become Better Questioners.”


How can we keep the questioning going as adults? See this fast-click blogshare…

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About the Author

Innovation expert and questionologist Warren Berger has studied hundreds of the world’s foremost innovators, entrepreneurs, and creative thinkers to learn how they ask questions, generate original ideas, and solve problems. He is the author or co-author of 12 books, including his three books on questioning: A MORE BEAUTIFUL QUESTION: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas; its follow-up THE BOOK OF BEAUTIFUL QUESTIONS: The Powerful Questions That Will Help You Decide, Create, Connect, and Lead; and BEAUTIFUL QUESTIONS IN THE CLASSROOM: Transforming Classrooms Into Cultures of Curiosity and Inquiry. Warren’s writing has appeared in Fast Company, Harvard Business Review, and The New York Times, and he writes the “Questionologist” blog for Psychology Today. He lives in Mount Kisco, New York. Follow him on Twitter at @GlimmerGuy and subscribe to his blog posts

1 Beautiful Comment

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  1. Warren Berger
    Twitter: GlimmerGuy

    Great article on a related topic in the NYTimes today. “The Boys at the Back” by Christina Hoff Sommers (a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and the author of “The War Against Boys”), which raises the topic of how to re-engage boys with school. nyti.ms/14x4hw6

    Many of the fervent comments following the article are worth reading, too, with plenty of beautiful questions being raised.