Curiously No Questions Asked
Collected by The OR from the perspective of J. Branson Skinner.
The biggest surprise that we encountered running the Circle Connection pilot program is that none of the students on either side of the Atlantic asked questions of their peers abroad. It was clear that the students were excited to share things with their peers abroad, so we assumed that the students would be naturally curious to know about their peer in a far away place too. Particularly since we explained that each student would receive a video in return from their peer, we expected that they would ask a question without much prompting.
Why was this?
Did the students think that they could simply Google their questions to find answers?
Eitherway, it's clear that we need to change our approach to recording the videos that each student sends along with the item that they create. For the first exchange Liz and I, and our counterparts in Ghana, interviewed each student privately. If anything, this did not ecourage them to ask questions. First it's easy to understand how some of the students felt strange speaking to us, basically strangers, about their lives. And it's an awkward feeling asking a question into a camera held by someone twice your age. The peer-to-peer feeling is removed from the experience with the process like this.
Moving forward the students will interview each other while in a group with the rest of their classmates. This will give them experience on both sides of the camera. Hopefully as the interviewer they will get into the rhythm of asking questions. And hopefully as the interviewee, they will fill more comfortable and natural speaking to someone that they know, someone their own age and height.
As we implement the lessons learned from this first program, our biggest hope is that the idea of classmates interviewing on another will not end when they turn the camer off, but that they will see how they can learn so much merely by asking about the world from their friend's point of view.