What’s the Question?May 10, 2019
What if I told you that asking questions is the single most important skill we can teach students? Aren’t questions the key to developing critical thinking skills and to writing with depth and complexity? What is all inquiry-based learning based on if not asking questions?
Can I give you the prompt I use for an assignment? “If you could ask ninety-nine questions about anything at all, what would you ask?”
Are you worried that ninety-nine questions are too many? Won’t students get tired of it by the tenth, fifteenth, or fiftieth question? Well, have you ever been motivated to do something, gotten tired of it, pushed through, and found a great sense of accomplishment? Isn’t persistence a useful skill that would apply everywhere in life?
Wouldn’t a lesson that develops persistence, creativity, and practicing sentence structure be ideal? Why don’t I give you some examples from the students’ responses?
Why do we have to do this assignment?
Do people always dream at night?
Why do some people thrive on negative emotions?
Why did slavery happen?
What do the stripes on the American flag stand for?
How do people make bubble gum?
Why am I so lonely?
Why do we yawn?
Why do stereotypes exist?
How did the Egyptians imagine the future?
Are humans better at creation or destruction?
Why am I socially awkward?
Why did the Wu-Tang Clan break up?
Where is Waldo?
Do I have a soul?
Why is chocolate toxic to dogs?
If the universe is infinite, what is it expanding into?
What was the first word ever spoken?
Why won’t my Dad let me watch Borat?
What would the U.S. be like if the South won the Civil War?
If the world were pressed flat, how wide would it be?
Why do we ask questions?
Aren’t these fun questions? Wouldn’t they be a good way for students to express themselves and learn about each other? Isn’t it possible that this could form the basis of further guided inquiries? Why don’t you try it as a creative writing assignment and see what happens? Would you please let us know how it went?