Sunday, November 17, 2013

Determining the proper questions to ask.

You get to the solution by asking the right questions.

Einstein said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.”
Do we spend time determining the proper questions to ask? Hardly. We tend to stick to the familiar path. We ask questions that reflect our personal convictions—our personal world view. Our believes.
And the answers we come up bring no revelation; they can not surprise us, they are predictable.

In life, we rush to get to the correct answer. We feel compelled to come up with solutions lest we are found wanting. School is a training ground for this attitude, where we are expected to deliver answers efficiently and thoughtlessly, in the time we are allocated to do so.

We don't teach kids to ask the difficult questions. When it comes to children, it goes easier for us if they ask the questions we have neatly packaged answers for.
But if we could begin to think of inquiry as a process and not an end product what a world of possibilities that would open up.
We want change? Then we need to take it outside of our comfort zone.
In her book, ‘The Art of the Question’ Marilee Goldberg said, ‘A paradigm shift occurs when a question is asked inside the current paradigm that can only be answered from outside it.'
And American author and polymath, Robert Anton Wilson, "Every kind of ignorance in the world all results from not realizing that our perceptions are gambles. We believe what we see and then we believe our interpretation of it, we don't even know we are making an interpretation most of the time. We think this is reality."
There are many realities: we have exhausted nothing.

Here's a really handy resource by Vogt, E., Brown, J. and Isaacs, called The Art of Powerful Questions: Catalyzing Insight, Innovation and Action. It will get you thinking about what a powerful question look like—such as it:

• generates curiosity in the listener
• stimulates reflective conversation
• is thought-provoking
• surfaces underlying assumptions
• invites creativity and new possibilities
• generates energy and forward movement
• channels attention and focuses inquiry
• stays with participants
• touches a deep meaning
• evokes more questions


Wendy Priesnitz said...

Kids know the right questions. But that often gets schooled out of them.

beatrice ekoko said...

@Wendy- yes. I agree. It' sort of like when people say "kids need to learn how to learn." Well actually, they are born knowing how to learn—they don't need to learn how to learn.

Laura Grace Weldon said...

This is wonderful! I'll be sharing. Thanks.

Sheila said...

I enjoyed this and will be sharing on my FB page. Asking questions is so much more important than giving pre-determined answers. Questions let your mind wander to other questions and the learning that takes place is natural and concrete.

beatrice ekoko said...

@Sheila-Thanks very much. Love your thoughts.

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