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The Questioning Pupil.

Teachers are frequently censured for lack of success with certain pupils, when, more often than not, the fault lies largely with the pupils themselves.

It is not our purpose, at this time, to go into the various causes leading to this condition, but the root of the matter seems to lie in the varying ability of pupils to draw from the teacher the best that is in him. The differences shown by pupils in this par­ticular are most marked. Even the most conscien­tious, painstaking teacher will not succeed equally with pupils whose abilities may appear to be on a par.

It is in his ability to place himself en rapport with his teacher, to inspire his interest and enthusiasm, that much of the real temperament and individuality of the pupil is shown. In order to be continually at his best the teacher is in need of a certain stimulus furnished by the interest of a pupil in, and his re­sponsiveness to the efforts made in his behalf.

The questioning pupil of the right sort is a pupil whom it is a pleasure to instruct. Very frequently the true bent of a pupil and measure of his talent is made known to the teacher through the medium of his questionings, greatly to the advantage of both. It is by this means that the pupil best demonstrates his receptivity, his true line of thought, and his originality, if he have any.

On the other hand, there are many teachers, whose minds are perfect store-houses of practical knowl­edge, which a few pertinent and well-directed ques­tions would cause to pour forth in abundance, who, without the impetus of such questions, would prob­ably remain silent upon those very points of which the pupil stood most in need. To the really studious and painstaking pupil questions of the greatest prac­tical value will be constantly occurring. Such ques­tions, tersely and succinctly put, serve as an invalu­able guide to the teacher in his work, not only with the particular pupil offering the question, but also, in a degree, with all pupils pursuing the same sub­ject.

Of course, there are good and bad questioners, and, no doubt, the bad questioner is more or less of a nuisance. There are pupils whose trifling, often irrelevant questions, are a constant source of irri­tation. These must be borne with, however, since it is the province of the teacher to encourage all ques­tions in the hope that ultimate good may come from all and in order that the decided advantages to be derived from the good questioner may not be lost.

Of all pupils, perhaps the most discouraging is the stolid, phlegmatic individual who never asks a ques­tion. One never knows to what extent the interests of such pupil has been aroused or in what measure he may be really profiting by the instruction given.

The nervous or backward pupil, who from timidity refrains from asking questions, is, of course, not included in this category. Pupils of this class should be encouraged and brought forward in every possible manner, since among these some of the very best student-material may often be developed.—Preston Ware Orem.

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You are reading The Questioning Pupil. from the May, 1902 issue of The Etude Magazine.

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