I am not sure where my inquisitive nature began, but if I had to guess it would be from my mom. From a very young age, she taught me, my sister, and my brother to always be curious about life. I can vividly recall her telling us that her dad said if a child was smart enough to ask a question, then he deserved an answer.
I suppose this philosophy transferred to her parenting style because growing up we were always free to ask questions about anything under the sun. I was blessed to grow up with a mother who fostered an environment where we were free to ask questions. In doing so, she was constantly fueling my creativity, particularly when it came to encouraging me to write often and in unconventional ways. Though she never earned a degree (one of her biggest regrets), she is, by far, the best writing teacher I have ever had. If you are reading this, mom, thank you so much for teaching me well. You'll be happy to know I am writing again. I am also encouraging others to write and to ask good questions. I guess it is true that we teach the way were taught, and if so, I sure hope my own children and students are as fortunate as I have been.
In thinking more about questioning, I have determined it is pretty much the basis of all productivity. Nobody ever created anything without first starting with a question. Good or bad, most often, the thought process starts something like this.... "I wonder what would happen if..." That's how it started for me anyway.
When I got the bright idea to explicitly teach my students how to ask really good questions, it started with this thought, "I wonder if my students were taught to ask more thought provoking questions if they would in turn become better readers and thinkers."
As a result, this week we practiced asking good questions and defined what constitutes as a good question. We read Collier's "Marigolds," and I asked each of you to come up with two questions while reading. For the most part, the questions were fairly obvious. "What do the Marigolds symbolize," etc. Then I modeled how to expand those questions and how to think outside the box. Afterwards, I assigned you guys a key scene to reread in groups and develop better questions. I was truly blown away by the complexity of the questions you all generated.
Listen, I don't have any empirical data or supported research to say that you all are going to be better readers and thinkers based on this one exercise, but I also can't imagine that you won't. Seriously guys, these are some collegiate level "English major"-type questions if I have ever seen, and you guys are only freshmen in high school.
Don't believe it, just take a glance at the above images.
You should all be proud of yourselves. I know I am. Please keep asking good questions, and I promise I will keep trying to point you in the direction of solutions.
Mom, thanks for teaching me the art of questioning, so I could teach them.
Keep seeking and you will find,