On direct examination, a lawyer is not allowed ask a witness a leading question because the court wants testimony to come directly from the witness, not from a lawyer through his questions. Likewise, in the classroom the goal is for the student to do the thinking. Non-leading questions leave the field completely open and invite student participation in the conversation. They put the responsibility for thinking clearly in the hands of the students.
We think that context determines whether a question is non-leading. Our emphasis
is on facilitating student thinking, rather than simply extracting
information. When John McKinstry's students
bring up the concept of circumference, John follows up with what,
in this context, is a non-leading question: "Why is circumference important?"
More typically, non-leading questions look like these:
"What are you thinking?"
"Why are you asking that question?"
"Can you explain why you did it this way?"
"Why does this work?"