August 2010
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Magic of Questioning

Yesterday a question came to my mind. We had noticed since childhood that whenever a fan is run slowly through what we call a ‘regulator’, the regulator gets heated. Why does it get heated? I knew the difference between AC and DC motors and difference between variable speed vs. fixed speed drives, but I was not sure what kind of motor a fan had. I called up my younger sister who was more qualified to answer this. But she too was not sure. She promised to read about it and tell me. 

In our childhood whenever we went to naani-ghar (maternal grandmother’s place) our nana would ask us some very practical questions. When we would be around bonfire on winter nights he would ask us questions from history, science, or mathematics and we were always fearful of the ones which we were not able to answer. He did it with the grownups too whenever he met some family member who was highly educated. I guess they always dreaded him because he would put them in very embarrassing situations with his smart and practical questions.  

I think questioning and quizzing is a very useful method of learning for anyone. The trick is to try to explain every doubt that comes in our mind. We should also realise that if we don’t find answers to our own doubts then someone else would challenge us sometime. And we should also ensure that our children take such questioning in the right spirit. In case they don’t answer, we should try to encourage them rather than causing humiliation in any way.  

Magic of questioning comes to play when a scientist or a person with master’s degree is not able to answer a naïve question from a kid. Magic of questioning shows it when a child develops the spirit of reasoning and fact-finding from very early stage in his/her life.  

Btw, I found answer to the fan regulator question here 

- Rahul

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