Asking More Questions

I recently spent some time with my family in Denmark and Sweden.  While in Copenhagen for an afternoon, strolling over bridges and along canals, we came upon an art installation by Yoko Ono. It was quite simple. There were trees and paper tags. People were encouraged to write a wish on one of the tags and tie it on a tree.  Of course this intrigued me, so I grabbed a piece of paper and started thinking……Of all the wishes I could make, which one will it be? After spending some time reading other wishes and thinking about my own, I decided that today my wish would be:

 “I wish that people would spend more time asking questions, and less time worrying about having all the answers.”

Since that day, I’ve really been trying to work on this in my own conversations.  I am finding that when we ask questions, people think we want answers. I’m trying to work on asking the kinds of questions that lead to more questions, and answering questions with questions.  Yes, I do think this has seriously confused some of my friends and family members, but I’m finding the conversations more tentative, more exploratory, and more interesting.

I want to think about this with teachers and students when we return to school later this summer.  I want to ponder and discover.  I wonder if we are living in a world where people feel like they are expected to quickly have answers to questions (After all, we have only to grab our phones and look something up and we have the answer!). I wonder if people feel that a quick tweet or text is sufficient. I wonder if we should work on slowing things down, pondering ideas, talking hard about the work we are doing, the books we are reading, and the pieces we are writing. I wonder if we should to spend more time in the land of ideas, asking more questions, considering more perspectives.

I’m enjoying this questioning stance.  Maybe you can send me some good questions to ponder!





6 thoughts on “Asking More Questions

  1. I recently read the book Quiet Leadership. In the Ladder of Approaches to Self Directed Learning, approach 1 is Support the other person to come up with their own answers.

    1. I see your question and raise you two more of the rhetorical variety 🙂 Must our question-oriented explorations be tentative or might they, with practice, become bolder forays into curiosity? How reasonable or realistic is it to cultivate a comfortable climate of questions — in which asking feels natural and necessary, rather than enervating and risky?

      1. I think this comfortable climate of questions is what I see as the ideal environment for learning. I’m not seeing a lot of it in classrooms. Are you?

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