DisinfoCast: 76: Ivan Hannell – Questioning in the Classroom

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Attorney Ivan Hannell believes learning to ask better questions helps create a higher quality learning experience. As a consultant, he travels around the country educating teachers in the same kinds of interrogative techniques he developed as a trial lawyer.

6 Comments on "DisinfoCast: 76: Ivan Hannell – Questioning in the Classroom"

  1. kowalityjesus | Oct 3, 2013 at 2:43 am |

    The average American is extraordinarily passive 22-45 yr old, you’re out there in the world, paying off your student debt and you hear about stuff happening how corporations are running amok, run the world and they think “yeah well what can we do about it?” so they accept it, and its the opposite of what this country should be about i.e. life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We arent going to have it unless we discontinue producing zombies that that don’t have the wherewithal to have any reflection. That’s where education comes into play, produce people that inquire about their own world “why are these things happening?” not just kids who are competent in traditional academics.

    The system as it stands, the zombie factory, is not happening through any intentional plan to surpress people, its happening because there’s no motivation, no sense that “That’s not what school is about.” We need people that can logic through a situation and reach their own conclusions. These teaching methods coincide with what neuroscientists are telling us about the way the brain works, the physical heierarchy to the way the brain learns and how you should ask questions.

    Its not for lack of good questions that people don’t improve its for lack of developing that heirarchical process of learning. If we don’t demand inquiry in our schools, then we shouldn’t be surprised that students become passive in adulthood…these people have entire avenues of life closed to them; not just financial, they don’t feel in control of their own world.

    There are people that believe that Shakespeare is the repository of all wisdom, but there is wisdom to be had from being e.g. a good carpenter (i agree, lol), from developing the underlying skills from asking “why are buildings the way they are? why are the materials different for different buildings and where do they come from?” Conventional paradigm is that critical thinking is developed by the content you use and manipulate, but Hannell has a different proposition that critical thinking is using a process of certain mental acts to develop underlying thinking/mental skills, as elicited by questions that a teacher would ask.

    How do we train teachers to better develop patterns of thinking for students, thus giving people the skills to choose their happiness, or unhappiness? When you premeditate or think about the questions you ask in a particular pattern, you anticipate student responses, prepare yourself for divergent answers. This process also benefits teachers who are no longer able to see [beginners mind], from a perspective of a brand new “uninitiated” learner. Lecture is highly prolific form of teaching and is about reconstructing reality as “I understand it for you.” But as the teacher is doing that, there is nothing from the student. What we ask from students in high school, is really not a big deal. Many of them come out not only not knowing the content of what they were taught but they don’t have the skills to acquire new information, they literally don’t know how to look at information: ‘how do you look at something that you don’t understand”. Why doesn’t the questions at the end of each chapter translate into learning for most students? Methodology for asking student questions: I need to ask questions that will progressively consecrate the cognitive process of the student: I need to ask certain questions here, certain questions the next day. “Kaan Academy” videos about information, where teachers can send students home and then ask them about the video when they get into the class next day “flipped instruction.” Why is citizenry so passive as a whole? Hannell thinks its tied to the education system. “Having this conversation itself is the value.” “Why are kids getting fat, why are they standing up and telling off a sub, why don’t we start school later to help kids get enough sleep?” We can’t look at educators to change initiate the change themselves. We need activists in this country who look critically at their surroundings.


    The average person is not thinking of the analogy of the NSA listening in on electronic communications as the same thing as people at the post office opening your mail and looking at it before you get it. They are not asking those questions. They are simply thinking “NSA bad” or “NSA good for security” the education system has not led to the enlightened citizenry that it is supposed to have done.

    Matt: many people will say “the problem is there are too many stupid people” even though that is a pathetically elitist statement.
    Ivan: There are a lot of poorly trained and stimulated people but our brains are so remarkably similar throughout the human race. However there is a problem of laziness, that parents expect the schools to handle kids for x number of hours and make them brilliant. We should actually train parents how to engage with their kids [note: this is a foundational principle in teaching violin students via the Suzuki method] (discussion of artificial intelligence and how it will blow human intelligence out of the water) The education system we have, and consequentially the citizenry that we can expect, is one where information is taken in and we acquiesce into whatever framework is in place, not thinking critically about what the outcomes are.

    Matt you need to say suredesigntshirts.com slower and repeat it. Unless they really are paying you pennies.

  2. Cortacespedes | Oct 3, 2013 at 3:37 am |

    The largest employers in the US right now are the US military and Walmart. By that yardstick, the educational system is doing a spot on job churning out “drones” to feed that system.

    I mean, what would the world come to if we had critically thinking soldiers and retail workers?

    There’s a real war going on right now so far as skills go in my opinion. Ivan nodded at the German educational system but didn’t go into much detail. I really do like the idea of apprenticeship and the honing of skills that way; but it seems that employers are always seeking ways to get out of paying for skills. Either thru technological advances or more prefab assembly line processes.

    I could give multiple examples here, but I am afraid I would be typing forever.

  3. Ivan Hannel | Oct 3, 2013 at 2:34 pm |

    My main point is to create a culture of inquiry regardless of whether the focus is academic or practical/vocational. Otherwise, we get zombies regardless of whether they are well-versed in Shakespeare or not.

  4. Aletheia259 | Oct 4, 2013 at 1:42 pm |

    I am a science teacher. I found Ivan’s patronising rhetoric verging on insulting, however, I guess till you have worked as a teacher you would never understand. Teachers ARE taught to question, it’s just that when you have curricula to get through e.g. molecular structure and bonding which the children are never likely to use in their lifetime (I haven’t until now upon starting my teaching career a little later, despite working in scientific professions). The problem is when you are teaching you are dealing with a great emotional burden on the children……why are they pressured into doing the most important exams in their lives as they go through the biggest emotional turmoil of their lives – puberty? A curriculum which incidently does not match their needs. And added to that the pressure on teaching is phenomenal…..Ivan shows that he does not understand the burden on teachers when he jokes about posting on ‘facebook/twitter’ while at work when describing how children should not be expected to concentrate for so long…..well all the teachers I know don’t have time to post on ‘social media’ at work.

    I chose my career and wouldn’t swap it, but people like Ivan who have never experienced the pressure of teaching, and incidently most of the people in Government who legislate and make decisions in teaching have a very limited understanding of what is happening at the frontline. Furthermore, most of the teachers I know will get children to question, but there is only a limited amount of time to do this otherwise they do not get their exams. I appreciate Ivan’s exploration of issues concerning the education system but his repeated referral to and enphasis on teachers not being taught to question/or needing to learn to question is not the main issue. And really at that age, with the confusion of the biological changes, are the issues that Ivan is referring to really the main issues for the children? I truly cannot blame the children for chosing to ‘switch off’. The system is wrong but don’t blame the people trying to rescue things.

  5. large difference in audio levels between you and Ivan., can bealy hear you Matt.

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