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Asking Worthwhile Questions
May 8, 2023
We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war, but the positive affirmation of peace.
-Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929 - 1968), American Baptist minister and activist

In her New York Times opinion piece on the lost art of authentic conversation, Kate Murphy writes:

“Good listeners ask good questions. One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned as a journalist is that anyone can be interesting if you ask the right questions. That is, if you ask truly curious questions that don’t have the hidden agenda of fixing, saving, advising, convincing or correcting.”

Ann Pelo, co-author of the popular book, From Teaching to Thinking, provided an article, “Finding Questions Worth Asking" that inspired an Out of the Box Training of the same name.

She explains that when “we ask our questions with the mutual aims of understanding a child’s thinking and of supporting a child's search to make meaning — a search to know, rather than to learn...we act with regard for children’s human dignity.”

Here are her suggestions for asking questions in a worthwhile way:

  • “Listen with our full attention.
  • Learn the languages that children speak.
  • Join our attention to their attention.
  • Allow space and time for exploratory thought.
  • Relax our urgent push to teach."



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