No Spoon Feeding Zone

"So, what's the answer?"


The question came from a student the other day after a long discussion about the reason a character was so enraged. I was tempted to say that the character had been discussing an important topic with others and one of them had not been paying attention and so he was enraged.  But I have been told that sarcasm does not work with boys. Dang.

It's a fair question, sometimes. It's not easy to follow a discussion with many students providing input and insight. After a while they figure out who has something to say that has a high percentage of being insightful.
For others, the class dialogue may drag on and after several minutes they zone out. Once they "come back" they are ready to move on. They want the Spark Notes version (or Reader's Digest or Cliff Notes, depending on your generation).

photo © 2007 Kenneth Lu | more info (via: Wylio)
It’s not like it is the first time anyone has asked that question in class. It comes often enough that I began to ask them if they wanted me to spoon feed the answers.


“That was a rhetorical question.”

“What does ‘rhetorical’ mean?”

“I can’t tell you because there is no spoon feeding in here.” (It's pretty much impossible to resist sarcasm twice in one class when you're set up so nicely. Sorry experts.)

There is a balance to anything in the classroom. While I want them to inquire and figure things out on their own, they come with many questions. I haven’t figured out how to be the “guide on the side” all the time and sometimes I feel like they need me to be the “sage on the stage.” They want to know and if I choose wisely in what I have them read, they will get some answers to questions some of them may need to know.

Recently, I posted a large broken plastic spoon on the bulletin board in the front of the room as a “subtle” reminder to students. Yesterday, a student raised his hand and asked why it was there. Before I could answer, a student yelled out.

“No spoon feeding!”

I thought I detected a bit of pride in his voice when answering. Was it because he knew the answer as to why it was up there? Maybe he was happy that I would not spoon feed them the answers in my class?

I knew which one of those two I wanted it to be and thought to ask him to find out the answer. But given the topic I couldn’t. The entire scene would have been a little too ironic.


  1. I love the broken spoon visual and plan on using that in my class!

    It's a constant battle to get kids to think for themselves. As I've started to dabble in Project Based Learning I've found that many students really struggle with anything that can't be figured out after a few seconds. But when it finally does click it makes teaching enjoyable and rewarding.

    Keep on breaking those spoons!

  2. It's a visual that's simple, easy, and effective.

    I have found that I am getting better at asking the "right" questions but the challenge is to get them to ask those same questions without my prompting. It's only then that they will leave my classroom with an appreciation for the curiosity that makes a better reader (and person?!).


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