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CONcepts: Dying laughing over a kid's serious answer in class

Maybe I asked for this one, without meaning to. In any case, this kid cracked me up. And she didn’t mean to, either.

Educational experts seem to agree.

The very best teachers ask the right questions. Insightful inquiries tend to elicit intelligent responses and stimulate learning. That’s no secret. Trained instructors everywhere know this. Students retain much more information, when they can come up with the answers themselves, instead of simply absorbing what others spout.

For this reason, skilled teachers try to draw ideas and information from their audiences, or students, by asking helpful questions. This strategy helps to keep active discussions on track, encourage student participation and keep classroom conversations moving in a constructive direction.

Of course, that may be so, in theory, but nine-year-old girls are another story altogether.

Here’s how it all got moving along:

Some time ago, I volunteered to teach the third grade girls at our church. The curriculum included a series of topics and activities, for which the children would earn badges and awards. Scripture memory work, hands-on crafts, creative projects, and lively discussions were the primary projects of the program.

My co-leaders and I enjoyed a wonderful group of bright, high-energy young ladies. Our once-a-week gatherings with these kinetic kids quickly became the highlights of our weeks.

“The most interesting information comes from children, for they tell all they know and then stop.” Mark Twain (1835 – 1910)

Conscience matters.

After a few months together, we started a unit called “Conscience: Gift from God.” The chapter began with a few important vocabulary words, which we needed to define together before moving on with the material.

During our teaching time, the word “conscience” was the answer I sought. However, as the teacher, I must have had the wrong question.

A single word can stop a teacher in nothing flat.

“What has God given to you, to help you to know right from wrong?” I asked.

“Parents?” one child responded.

“Well, that’s true,” I answered. Perhaps it was time to rephrase the question. “What has He given to all people, to help us decide what is right and what is wrong?”

“Police?” another suggested.

“Well, that may be true too, but that’s not the word I’m looking for here,” I said.

The girls looked puzzled. “It’s something God has given to everyone,” I added, as if that might help to elicit the vocabulary word I sought. “It’s something inside of you.”

My co-leader tried to help things along by prompting the kids. “The word starts with ‘con,’” she said.

“And we all have it,” I added.

A hand shot up, right in the front row, followed by a sweet little voice. “Constipation?”

OK, I admit it. I totally lost it, right about then.

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