Q is for Question

| March 13, 2014

Dewey (1933) explicitly suggests how to practice and train thought of children through play, language, observation, knowledge, and teaching methods. Dewey thinks that questions are the key to thinking. Regarding questions, I used to think that they are problems on exams, but through reading, I come to understand that Dewey’s explanations about questions are more profound. Questions occur in difficult and perplexed situations. If we completely do not have a clue about what questions are, the questions cannot be considered perplexed, but a blind area. If we fully understand the questions, they do not need to be questions that we need to think about. The valuable questions occur among the contradictions of dilemma. So confusion leads to questions and our interests of thinking. Dewey’s strict criteria of being a question in training reflective thinking make think of Vogotsky’s zone of proximal development (ZPD). Vogotsky calls differences between current levels and upcoming levels the ZPD. Vogotsky also cotneds that good teaching should go ahead of development and teaching creates the ZPD. I consider that the ZPD reflects Dewey’s criteria of being a valuable question. We assume that the ZPD is an apple three, and the purpose of teaching is to encourage students to pick apples. In Dewey’s words, the purpose will be arousing students’ interests to think reflectively. If teachers’ challenges (questions) are below students’ levels, students will lose confidence in solving problems. Effective teachers know how to create questions that are perplexing and challenging but they still exist in the zone of development.


Dewey, J. (2008). The Later Works, 1925-1953: 1932 (Vol. 8). SIU Press.