In their seminal work Make Just One Change: Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions (Harvard Education Press: 2011), authors Dan Rothstein and Luz Santana make the certain premise that, “all students should and can learn to formulate their own questions.”
If this seems simplistic or unnecessary to state, it’s not. The pernicious right answer game in real life has become a catastrophic sorter of people’s worth. Intelligence is about understanding things. How is it that we understand things? How is it that we have the motivation to understand things? What are the “things” we’re talking about?
Of all the concerns in our personal and civic lives, how many problems are a result of the insistence on certain, right, righteous answers? How often have you read someone’s self-proclaimed words of confusion, upset, hopelessness only for it to lead to a fierce us/them opinion? Humility can be quickly lost in the pressure to be right/eous or knowledgeable. If there is a question at all in such posting, it is framed in a logical fallacy, snarky rhetoric, or just an insult with a question mark at the end. ie. “WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE??”
Learning to ask good questions is the difference between that and the spiritual discipline of humility and empathy.
We can begin to change our perspectives in any moment when we wonder and ask questions, if only of ourselves. How has the story of my life impacted my opinions and beliefs? How might my story differ from another’s?
This is deep stuff. Check it out. Do some of your own record keeping on the questions you ask, are asked; the questions you hear.
Back to the Good Question Game, based on the RFQT. The rules for producing question outlined in The Good Question Game: Part 3 are an essential part of the process. As a game, they put everyone on the same playing field and create the sequence.
But then, take important notice! Part of the preparation to play the game, or participate in the RFQT methodology, is for a group to discuss what might be hard about following any of the rules.
This is an unusual component of how we understand the act of playing a game, or classroom methodology – to discuss what will feel hard. Imagine if just a bit of time were taken, pro forma, to ask and listen about the participants’ concerns. If that’s hard to imagine, what isn’t hard at all is to recall a memory of playing a game. Someone gets a little too excited, too competitive. Someone is pre-anxious or quickly becomes so. There is often a misunderstanding, a meltdown or a quick rise to mayhem. We all have first-hand accounts of our own.
Oftentimes the pressure of right answers, win/lose, high grade/low grade, is the set up to a stressful experience of playing or learning.
And so you could ask yourself – what is interesting so far about the Good Question Game? What do you think of the rules for producing questions? What part is challenging for you to follow?
We’re getting closer….