As we all know every group that comes in for educational programs are different. Each one of them has its own personality and energy. Some are wide eyed and eager while others seem more interested in when they get lunch. Some sit quietly and listen while others engage actively in the programs. Of course it is our job to make the experience fun, exciting, and educational for all of them, but, if you are like me, you feed off of their energy. That is why I get so excited when I start to hear certain questions from groups. These are some of my favorites.
5. How would people have _____ back then?
This question lets me know that they are curious, but it goes beyond, “Hey, what is that?” They aren’t just curious about the unfamiliar items around them. They want to know specifically about a time a specific thing. This lets me know that they have probably been thinking about this for a while. This question also allows me to turn over some of the control of the program to the kids. They can now set the framework for how we are going to talk about a topic.
4. Is that like when we _____?
Now the kids are making comparisons to their daily life. That is something that is built into any historic programs that I do already. I want to show how things have changed over time, but in order to get kids to understand something you have to put it in terms they are familiar with. When students ask me this, they are making those connections on their own. Now I know that the information they are getting is going to be that much more meaningful to them.
3. If _____ then _____?
I am not a computer programmer, but I love if – then statements. This question not only tells me that the kids understand what we are talking about, but they are then taking it further to some conclusion. I always get excited when students start making these kinds of connections. Even though they are usually making a connection that I was probably working towards anyway, sometimes this question can open up entire new directions to take the program.
2. What if _____?
This question is a double edged sword. On one hand, I love to hear the creative (and usually funny) things that kids will come up with during my programs. Plus, as a fan of alternate history, a good what if question can lead to some very interesting places. Sometimes kids will propose interesting situations or solutions that most adults would never think of. But that is the first what if question. If you aren’t careful you find yourself fielding the 50th what if question and no where near the original topic of your program.
1. Can I come back?
This simple question tells me everything I need to know about how I did as an interpreter. If kids leave me wanting to come back then I did my job.
Do you have some particularly memorable questions from your audience? Please share them in the comments section below. Keep an eye out, in the future I may share my least favorite questions as well.