Communities of Thinking

Yoram Harpaz and Adam Lefstein

Twelve Israeli schools created communities of thinking to explore how a pedagogy based on questioning can transform teaching and learning.


The ability to pose questions to understand ourselves and our world is at the heart of what it means to be human. Unfortunately, this essential human trait is distorted in many schools by what we term an "answering pedagogy."

In an answering pedagogy, answers largely eclipse the questions. Knowledgeable teachers ask the ignorant students questions primarily in the form of an examination. In this context, teachers often use questions to exercise control over the classroom. These questions are predictable and rarely relate to deliberation or thinking, except in the narrow sense of recall. Questions of this nature are distortions of authentic questioning that occurs outside of school.

What is the nature of questioning, and what is its potential as a base for a powerful questioning pedagogy? We are attempting to explore these questions in Communities of Thinking, a K–12 school reform model that the Branco Weiss Institute for the Development of Thinking is implementing in a dozen Israeli schools.