'They ask factual questions that don't stimulate analytical or creative abilities' School teachers have failed to develop students' creative and critical thinking through questioning, according to inspection reports issued by the Education and Manpower Bureau (EMB) this week. Reports on four secondary schools, eight primaries, one special school and 17 kindergartens, randomly selected for inspections over the last year, were uploaded on to the EMB's website this week. EMB inspectors, who include principals, reported on the schools' management, curriculum, teaching and learning, assessment, extra-curricular activities, community partnerships, home-school relations, and students' performance. Summaries for each school indicated that their teachers lacked proper questioning skills. They tended to ask questions that did not require analytical or problem-solving skills on the part of students, and seldom encouraged them to give creative answers. Students were also found to be passive in class. They seldom asked questions and showed a lack of confidence when asked to speak, it was found. The reports suggested teachers should offer more encouragement and praise to motivate them. The report on Chung Sing Benevolent Society Mrs Aw Boon Haw Secondary School, for example, said it failed to stimulate students with provocative questions. Its teachers, however, were commended for being 'well-prepared for lessons', 'caring towards students' and 'progressive in trying to adopt an activity-based teaching approach'. Management styles, which varied widely, were generally praised. Most provided a variety of extra-curricular activities and established partnership with parents and the community, according to the reports. Jane Cheng Chee-king, principal education officer (quality assurance) of the EMB, said the poor questioning techniques of teachers would hamper education reform, which emphasised the development of students' creativity, critical thinking and communication skills. 'It is a prominent feature in education that teachers tend to ask one-sided, factual questions, instead of graded questions which require students to think about 'why' and 'how',' Ms Cheng said. 'As students are asked about facts instead of their opinions, they become demotivated to answer or ask questions.' Ms Cheng said the questioning patterns of teachers were a matter of teaching habits rather than abilities and had been learnt during teacher training. But Chung Sing principal Lam Tat-yan said teachers tended to ask straightforward questions because of discipline concerns. 'Our school takes in a considerable number of students who are academically weak, and those who have emotional or behavioural problems due to weak family backgrounds,' Mr Lam said. 'Open-ended questions may lead to chaos in class as this type of student may throw in nonsense answers. 'Simple questions, on the other hand, may serve to build up the confidence.' He added that the school would invite education professionals to organise teaching workshops and organise more class visits for teachers. 'Our teachers are under great pressure because the public, and the parents, expect us to help their students. However . . . there is no single solution for all.'