作业标题：The Relationship between Questioning and Creative Thinking
The Relationship between Questioning and Creative Thinking
Having read those materials Mr. Wu offered, I know that thinking is driven by questions that “motivate students, focus their attention, elicit deeper processing of information, tell students how well they are mastering content, and give them an opportunity for practice and rehearsal”. Therefore, questioning is important to thinking, and so is questioning to creative thinking. My understanding or view about the relationship between questioning and creative thinking therefore comes into being.
Wu Benhu: It is a revealing introductory paragraph to indicate your understanding of the relationship between
questioning and creative thinking. I enjoy your expression ‘thinking is driven by questions’ but we can further our perspective by specifying the dynamic relationship between questioning and thinking: ‘questioning promotes thinking
and, the other way around, thinking results in more questioning’.
On the one hand, for those who have questions or puzzles about something, questioning is the beginning of creative thinking. Here are some examples.
Firstly, Newton, one of the greatest scientists, supports my point of view. It is known that Newton
asked why to a normal phenomenon, the fall of an apple. Then his creative thinking about the question began. His creative thinking made the invisible gravity known, and thus, his great life and scientific study started. So Newton’s creative thinking is stimulated by questioning, and questioning is the starting point of creative thinking.
Wu Benhu: This is a convincing example. You have a clear presentation of this example. That’s great!
Secondly, a brain teaser I met several years ago also makes me confident about my understanding.
It is a brain teaser that asked people to use the fence as little as possible to make a vegetable garden as large as possible. I still remember that we were busy in calculating or thinking the best shape for the garden equipped with our mathematic skills. But when there was an answer given by one member, there was dissatisfaction. Each attempt of giving an exact answer to the question made us think more and deeply about the question. Therefore, our creative thinking started. Having taken the brain teaser and some tips into consideration, someone said slyly that using the fence to circle a small world map might be a good way. The others thought it was the answer. But the answer given originally is that you
use the fence to circle yourself, and the land you stand is outside the garden, which inspired us a lot and benefited our creative thinking. In the activity, we were motivated by questioning, and then our creative thinking was motivated and developed, and therefore, the problem was solved in a different way.
Wu Benhu: You can tell this story 100 times to different students to help them strengthen their awareness of creative thinking. Then they will be smarter in their approaches to this fascinating world.
Finally, another question I saw in a novel last week also supports me: what does “1234567” mean? I also asked my friends to answer the question. There were different answers: numbers, a
password, the number of money, a sequence in mathematics and seven musical notes. Then I searched the Internet for the answers. Differently, “1234567” can be a name of a song, a movie and a novel, and also it is used by someone to say bad things about others because “8” is excluded. In that way, questioning begins our thinking, and our creative thinking is also stimulated by questioning. Answers like numbers and a password are easily given, and then creative answers appear because of our creative thinking. And it is also the questioning that makes our creative thinking go on to a higher degree and then gain development and improvement.
Wu Benhu: I’m eager to answer your question ‘What does “1234567” mean?’
‘1’ means ‘one goal (一个目标)’: We try our best to develop our integrated cognitive competence in our course.
‘2’ means ‘two approaches (两种取向)’: We adopt two approaches, both the teacher-centered one and the student-centered one are adopted alternatively to promote more dynamic interaction between the teacher and the students.
‘3’ means ‘three questions (三大问题)’: We engage in our inquiry with three interrelated questions: (1) the basic question (基本问题) such as ‘What is learning pyramid?’ (2) the key question (关键问题) such as ‘Why is learning pyramid wrong?’ (3) the further exploratory question (深究问题) such as ‘How can we learn more efficiently with new approaches beyond learning pyramid?’
‘4’ means ‘four directions (四向思维)’: We explore our questions in four directions of thinking including (1) creative thinking, (2) critical thinking, (3) divergent thinking, and (4) convergent thinking.
‘5’ means ‘five perspectives (五维发展)’: We intend to improve our English learning and learning in general from five perspectives: (1) from the perspective of a language learner, (2) from that of a language user, (3) from that of a language teacher, (4) from that of a language researcher, and (5) from that of a language creator. This notion is based on my preceding conceptualization of the approaches to ELT (English language teaching) teacher development with my Chinese version ‘学-用-教-研-创’五驾齐驱的英语教师发展道路 as its original in my diary of February 7, 2010.
‘6’ means ‘six resources (六重资源)’: We resort to six resources, namely, (1) personal experiences, (2) others’ experiences obtained from direct contact, (3) substantial materials such as books, newspapers, magazines, (4) virtual materials such as websites, databases, digital images, (5) imaginary products such as daydreaming outcomes, and (6) conceptual reconstructions.
‘7’ means ‘seven transcendences (七层超越)’: We make progress through seven transcendences specified as (1) transcendence over the defect (超越失误), (2) transcendence over the past (超越过去), (3) transcendence over the present (超越现在), (4) transcendence over the reality (超越现实), (5) transcendence over the ideal (超越理想), (6) transcendence over the others (超越他人), and (7) transcendence over the self (超越自我).
On the other side, for those people who have some creative ideas or thoughts about something, questioning is the beginning of the development or improvement of creative thinking, and creative
thinking is driven and improved by questioning. When we have some creative ideas about something in our life, questioning helps to make creative ideas more creative, and even make those ideas affect our actions, our life or our society. For example, when I was in middle school, my teacher asked us to
design a tap. I have some creative ideas to make my tap more differently. During that time, I asked myself how and why I designed that or this. Through questioning, I knew the limits of my creative ideas and tried to improve them. And then, my design became better and more creative. In that way, creative thinking is driven, pushed ahead, developed and improved by questioning. Therefore,
questioning is the beginning of the development or improvement of creative thinking.
Wu Benhu: I enjoy, appreciate and admire this paragraph very much just like a student who wants to be inspired by his teachers. Thank you gratefully for your inspiring work with thought-provoking ideas presented in skillfully organized text.
Besides, creative thinking and questioning are mutually influenced. When our creative thinking
begins, we might meet some difficulties and problems. Then our questioning develops to be more complicated and deeper, or even more creative, in order to let creative thinking go further. For example, Newton firstly asked why to the fall of an apple, and then he began creative thinking. Later, he asked why the apple dropped instead of flying to the sky. So, at that time, his questioning
developed and improved because of creative thinking. And his creative thinking would also develop and improve to a higher degree because of the new questioning.
Wu Benhu: What a wonderful account of the mutual influence of creative thinking and questioning it is! This reminds me of the three advancing stages of learning from ‘dependent learning’ to ‘independent learning’ and finally to ‘interdependent learning’ (Kohonen, Jaatinen, Kaikkonen and Lehtovaara 2001: 26). By questioning with ‘Why should learning be centered around “dependence”?’, I become dissatisfied with what I appreciated previously as a smart description of life-long learning. Now I think that our learning should not be centered around ‘dependence’, whether it is dependent learning, or independent learning or interdependent learning since such an account is passively oriented. I argue for a more actively oriented account of learning by reconceptualizing the advancing stages of learning with three new terms: (1) external-inspiring learning, (2) internal-inspiring learning and (3) inter-inspiring learning. I propose to use these three terms for the emphasis on the active nature of learning.
In conclusion, questioning is not only the beginning of creative thinking but also the beginning of the development or improvement of creative thinking. Our creative thinking is stimulated, spurred, driven, developed and improved by questioning. And creative thinking and questioning are mutually affected.
Wu Benhu: Thank you for all you have elaborated above!
Kohonen, V., R. Jaatinen, P. Kaikkonen and J. Lehtovaara. 2001. Experiential Learning in Foreign Language Education. Harlow, Essex: Pearson Education.