As an educator, one of the most important goals is to teach students not only what to think, but also how to think critically. This involves equipping them with the skills to ask questions, analyze information, and come up with logical conclusions. One question that often arises is the ‘why?’ question.

The Importance of the ‘Why?’ Question

When students ask ‘why?’, they are demonstrating a curiosity and a desire to understand the purpose and reasoning behind a concept or idea. Encouraging students to ask this question not only helps them develop a deeper understanding of the subject matter, but also fosters their critical thinking skills.

Teaching Strategies

Here are some effective strategies to help students answer the ‘why?’ question:

  1. Encourage Curiosity: Create a classroom environment where curiosity is celebrated and encouraged. Encourage students to ask questions and explore different perspectives.
  2. Provide Context: When introducing a new concept, provide real-world examples or historical context to help students understand why it is important and relevant.
  3. Ask Open-Ended Questions: Instead of providing students with answers, ask open-ended questions that prompt them to think critically and articulate their reasoning.
  4. Connect to Prior Knowledge: Help students make connections between new information and their prior knowledge. This can help them understand the ‘why?’ behind the new concept.
  5. Engage in Discussions: Facilitate classroom discussions where students can share their thoughts and perspectives. Encourage them to listen to and respect different viewpoints.

Benefits of Answering the ‘Why?’ Question

Teaching students to answer the ‘why?’ question has several benefits:

  • Enhanced Understanding: When students understand the purpose and reasoning behind a concept, they are more likely to retain the information and apply it in different contexts.
  • Improved Critical Thinking: Answering the ‘why?’ question requires students to think deeply, analyze information, and evaluate different perspectives. This strengthens their critical thinking skills.
  • Increased Engagement: When students are able to connect the subject matter to their own lives and interests, they become more engaged in the learning process.
  • Preparation for the Real World: In the real world, being able to ask ‘why?’ and understand the reasoning behind decisions is a valuable skill. Teaching students to answer this question prepares them for future challenges.


Encouraging students to ask the ‘why?’ question is an essential part of teaching. By providing them with the tools and strategies to answer this question, educators can empower students to become critical thinkers and lifelong learners.