The Right Question Formulation Technique (RQFT) was developed by educators to address the needs of students and parent/s who are considered marginalized. But it's not just for marginalized people. It is for any people. It is a simple and powerful tool that should not be passed over. It is a group process, therefore it's redundant to say that I don't advise anyone trying to speak of it, evaluate it, or lead it unless it has been experienced in full.
In 2013, I spent two days with dozens of educators around the country learning the RQFT. Yet since then and despite my excited efforts, I have only had the opportunity to lead/teach it for other groups a few times. Why is this, I contemplate daily.
I'm the type of meaning maker who first finds themselves experiencing something, on purpose or not. Then, I process my experience by thinking, talking, writing, creating, studying. Eventually, I often find the theory that matches my experience and my understanding of it. After 50 years of experiencing life in this way, I was so relieved to learn that I have an bonafide quality that has served me well -- curiosity. I say it has served me well yet it has often been obscured or silenced. Domineering peers and adults, traditional education, hierarchical systems will do that -- squelch curiosity. But as sabotaging are the busy schedules and pressured attention spans that mark our post modern selves. These are vicious curiosity blockers.
Take a moment to consider the instances of curiosity itself in conversations, rhetoric and public discourse. How is it that curiosity is not widely nor deeply understood or valued or even cultivated, especially by the many leaders, educators, and professionals charged with advancing mission-driven work? In my view, the absence of this from any agenda is a seminal piece of disempowerment. I'm not saying the chronically disempowered are not curious. On. The. Contrary. I am saying that the silencing of curiosity of the disempowered is what keeps people down. I will also say that we rarely see those in power -- whether in small groups, organizations or major public platforms -- include natural human curiosity in their rhetoric and role modeling.
It's no wonder we try to hone our well-put argument or prose of blame, rather than suggest we create a sacred circles in the middle of differing ideas, beliefs, and values. We are not called to do otherwise. No one would take the time for it. It gets masked by expertism, as if someone else can do it for the masses.
It's a loss to not be able to value getting quiet together, as is practice of many, peaceful faith traditions. In this way, we would advance our agility of empathy simply by expecting there are at least 3 sides to every story. Such spiritual practices include the experiences of others FIRST or primary. It isn't a surprise that our own viewpoint isn't The Only or Right Viewpoint. No one would ever have to say, "I don't know," or "I'm not sure," because it would be assumed that not one of us knows all or is sure about anything.
An underlying and constant spiritual attribute -- humility -- seems to scare most people. To suggest that we meditate and pray for humility can feel the same as hoping for weakness. This is sad. It's possible to be humble and confident, not sure and courageous. Such attributes are the basis of myths and the whole point of most wisdom tales.
With this Sunday commentary, I invite you to a series of writings I will share this week in the The Good Question Game. The climax of the series is the story of a few dozen kiddos who, together, quickly came up with the answer to the question:
What is one of the most powerful skills a person can have in their life?