Bertram Russell said something like, “in all things it’s healthy now and then to hang a question mark on what we have long taken for granted.”
When a group of special education students were taken to the Albuquerque Museum for the final field trip during the research phase of Art, Books, and Creativity, they were escorted by a docent who told them “facts” about a particular painting. He was sure he knew everything there was to know about the piece of art. The students sat in stony silence. They had spent the year using the VTS questions and this was not the way they looked at art. I intervened in the docent’s presentation, asking the students the first VTS question. They studied the painting and then eagerly raised hands to comment. One by one they spoke, listened to their peers observations, and played off each other in a symphony of thoughts and evidence. The docent was astonished that this group of special needs children could discover elements in the painting he had never noticed in all his years of giving tours. Through VTS questioning and paraphrasing, the teacher of this class had honed these students’ observational skills, which would serve them for years to come.
Although the use of paraphrasing may present a challenge initially, what do you believe will be gained in your classroom or setting by using these questions? What do you think will be some personal challenges in using paraphrasing?