Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What do you Question?

"There's no real answer here, you know."

Aimee said that in the tail end of last week's conversation about freedom, rights and responsibilities regarding creative thinking.

It sounds like a conversation ender. It sounds almost depressing.

But it’s not.

It's the point.

Well, part of the point anyway. Even if there isn't an answer, you learn how to think by discussing things. Knowing you will come to an answer, or requiring an answer limits your creativity in thinking. By not assuming there even is an answer, you can explore a topic thoroughly.

I wish more of my students did this.

I cannot keep count of how many papers I receive where a student will assume s/he (at the enlightened age of 18-22) has THE ANSWER, so the paper doesn't explore a topic, it rehashes "known" information.

Hell, I'm guilty of that. Someone on LiveJournal called me on it. A statistic I'd heard from three different people who I generally trust to "know" things: Wrong. And I didn't even think to question it because I believed I had an answer. Or at least a fact, which is an answer to something.

The thing about questions - questions rather than answers - is that they can disturb the status quo more than answers.

"This is how it's done."


"This is what it is."

"How is it like that?"

By being willing to ask, to question, we can find logical fallacies, incorrect facts, causes as opposed to correlations.

And maybe answers. Or at least a little closer to answers because, at this level of evolution and comprehension, it's possible that we CANNOT know the answers.

So, what do you think you know?

What do you question?


Jaleta Clegg said...

Sorry, the teacher in me is escaping this morning. We teach students in grade school that everything has a pat answer. All math problems are solvable with whole numbers, nice and neat, at the end. We teach them to do everything EXCEPT question. Then they reach high school or college. The teachers ask them to question and they no longer know how.

One of my favorite books is the Ramona Quimby book where she questions how Mike Mulligan went to the bathroom while his steam shovel was digging the hole. She gets in trouble for even daring to question it, but she really is troubled by the situation. I have too much in common with Ramona. I still do.

In my day job, we had a discussion about our end goal for teaching the class. We have maybe 45 minutes with each class that comes to our center, definitely not enough time to teach a topic for comprehension. After a lot of thought, we decided our goal was to send the kids out of the class with more questions than their teacher could possibly answer. These are 10-12yo's who think they understand astronomy. We push the concepts we present clear to the college level. If the kids' heads aren't spinning when they leave, they haven't been listening. We want them to question.

I'm such a rebel some days, especially in the teaching world.

BTW, the captcha staring at me as I type this is mingsbar - I have the mental image of Ming the Merciless wiping a bar counter while dispensing drinks. Oh, how the mighty have fallen...

Luc Joseph said...

I've learned to question everything, and I mean everything. Maybe that's why I got into so much trouble as a young boy. Luckily for me, though, it was because I had teachers and adults who taught me to never accept the first thing I was told.

Society loves the status quo, and as you said, questions disturb the status quo more than answers do. If you look at history, you can see that it was only when people started to ask questions that things started to change.

I'm not infallible, though. Sometimes when my kids ask way, I fall into the trap, too, and say "Because it is." But I won't anymore. Thanks for reminding me of that.

One more rebel for the cause.

Trisha Wooldridge said...

Thank you both for the comments! & Apologies for not responding sooner.

@Jaleta - I love what you do with your astronomy students! I do that with my tutoring students all the time => see if I can get them to ask more questions! I also grew up adoring (& still do!) Ramona. Thanks for the memory!

@Luc, My dad told me that he always hated it when his parents would say "because I say so" or "because it's just like that," so he intended to never, ever do that to his kids. He also told me that I often made him wish he'd never said "never, ever." This was before the Internet, too... so we made LOTS of trips to the library.

My husband just tells me to "Google it" when I go 2-year-old, "but why?!" on him. hehehee!!

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