I love questions. I love examples that help explain or show why or otherwise illuminate. These are three of my favorite stores or illustrations about questions:
1. When you ask a question, you are making a place in your brain for the answer to fit.
(I first ran across this idea here: What are questions?) To me, this idea seems ample evidence to go around asking question after question because if you do that long enough the world will start bombarding you with answers. I feel like that’s what’s going on in the world – we are being hit in the head all day long with answers but we don’t recognize them as such because we haven’t prepared ourselves first by asking the questions, by making room for the answers.
2. “Son, what questions did you ask at school today?”
I think it was Richard Feynmen who told a story about his father. He said that when he came home from school his dad would never ask what he learned. He asked him what questions he asked. He suggested that this was the more important skill. Your job is to ask questions. I like this. I think this is true. (I need to hunt down this source.)
3. What has become clear to you since we last met?
I’ve heard that this is what Ralph Waldo Emerson would ask friends he hadn’t seen in awhile. I love this. It’s asking about something deeper than what you did. It’s asking about intellectual growth, learning, etc. (I can’t help think about a scene from The Office when Jim returns to the office after months and asks Kelly what she’s been up to. She starts to list a lot of facts about celebrities and Jim asks again what has been going on with her. She looks confused and says that she just told him.) So often we recount what we did, or just facts about our lives. I love how this question gives you the opportunity to share things that are much more interesting.
If we learn to ask good questions, we will find more answers, be doing our job as students, and find out that the world and the people in it might just be a lot more interesting than we ever realized. None of that happens if we don’t ask questions. When I try to make that point at school, I tell those three stories.
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