Coming Soon: Our 3rd Annual Question Week!
Have you heard? March 12 through 18 (surrounding the anniversary of Einstein’s birthday on March 14) is “Question Week.”
Which may immediately raise questions such as, What’s Question Week? And why should I care?
Since my book A More Beautiful Question came out a few years ago, I’ve been making the case for the value of asking questions. Questioning is often the starting point of innovation, learning, and growth. It’s an incredibly valuable yet underappreciated tool.
Most people I talk to tend to agree with this premise about the importance of questioning. But one big challenge that people mention is time. It takes time to stop “doing” and start questioning. Asking thoughtful, meaningful, “beautiful” questions—whether it’s about our businesses, our jobs, our children’s education, or just about any aspect of our lives—may require that we slow down and step back.
Hence, Question Week—with the idea being, if there’s a period of time designated for questioning, maybe we’ll use that opportunity to try to do more of it. And maybe in the process, we’ll discover that questioning really is a useful and powerful thing that we should be doing all year-round.
Over the past couple of years, Question Week has really caught on in schools around the country (and even as far away as China!).
If you’re a teacher, school administrator, or parent, and you’d like your school or class to participate, check out the Question Week site for some tips on how to conduct question-based activities and exercises. The site also has a number of articles and posts explaining why questioning is so important; why and how we should be emphasizing student questioning more in classrooms; and stories about the power of “beautiful questions” to transform our lives and the world around us.
If you (or your school) want to take part in Question Week, start by visiting QuestionWeek.com to learn more. You can also contribute to this awareness effort by spreading the word about Question Week and urging others to take some time during this week to ask big, actionable questions and share them. (I’m using the hashtag #QuestionWeek on Twitter). See last year’s #Wonderwall where we collected a bunch of photos and tweets from classrooms participating in Question Week.
Critical Thinking: It’s All About the Questions
We’ve never needed critical thinking more than we need it now. With the rise of “fake news” and “alternative facts,” it is imperative that we thoughtfully evaluate and make sound judgments about information that is coming at us faster than ever and from more sources (not all of them trustworthy). Critical thinking helps us to make sense of the world around us, and enables us to make better decisions.
But what is critical thinking and how can we get better at it? Turns out it’s all about asking the right questions.
In recent articles I’ve written for Fast Company and Quartz.com, I offer tips from critical thinking experts who explain how to use a handful of powerful questions to separate truth from baloney.
I’ll be returning to this subject again in future posts; I also plan to zero in on critical thinking in education because I think this may be one of the most important survival skills we can teach students. It can help tomorrow’s citizens to navigate an increasingly complex and confusing world of information.
‘Ask More:’ A New Book About Questioning
I’m always pleased to see more people get involved with the subject of questioning—and it’s particularly good to see a respected journalist like Frank Sesno join in this discussion. You may know Sesno as the former anchor at CNN; these days he heads up the school of media and public affairs at George Washington University. And he has written a new book about questioning titled Ask More: The Power of Questions to Open Doors, Uncover Solutions and Spark Change.
Frank’s book does something interesting: He creates what might be thought of as a taxonomy of questioning, separating questions into different types such as Diagnostic, Strategic, Empathetic, Confrontational, and so forth. He dedicates a chapter to each of 11 different categories of questioning. The book also features insights on questioning from a number of the well-known people Sesno has come to know throughout his journalism career, including CNN’s Anderson Cooper, NPR’s Terry Gross, and Gen. Colin Powell.
As his book was coming out last month, Frank and I had a couple of conversations about questioning and one thing we discussed was that it seems as if nobody actually teaches questioning—even at journalism school! (Though Frank is changing that at GWU, where he teaches “the art of the interview” to students.)
I recommend Frank’s book highly. And in days ahead, I hope to collaborate with him as a fellow “questionologist” spreading the word about the power of inquiry.
Thank you, as always, for your interest in beautiful questions, and I hope to continue the conversation with you either via Twitter, Facebook, or on the AMBQ blog.
warren [at] warrenberger.com
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