There are many experiences and books that have shaped me as a person and as an educator, but none were more powerful and immediate than A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas.
I picked up this book 2.5 years ago while on maternity leave. I was searching for a book to keep my brain occupied as I stayed home cuddling my new baby boy. The book grabbed my attention and fully converted me within the first 50 pages.
Children has thousands of questions between the ages of birth and 5. Even babies that have no verbal skills point and look with questions in their eyes. Any tired parent can tell you the questions of a toddler are endless. We don’t appreciate this when our three year old doesn’t stop questioning on the ride home after a long day…. but eventually those questions stop. Completely.
We tend not to notice this in the everyday motions of our lives, but what happened? Why did our inquisitive little question monsters stop asking questions?
This is not a joke. Kids go to school where teachers are evaluated on test scores and mandated to teach day by day curriculum. When kids start asking questions the teachers don’t have time to answer. They can’t go off on every tangent. They must stick to the script and kids inquisitive nature dies off. They are now fact regurgitating test taking machines off to the non-existence factory lines.
How do we fix this? We’re raising generations of kids are dumpster of facts that live without context, or application. As teachers we complain that students don’t have a passion for learning or are not intrinsically motivated, but why would they be?
A More Beautiful Question examines how to implement the direct teaching of questioning into curriculum. Through case studies evidence is presented that students that question can drive their own curriculum, learn more, are incredibly motivated and yes, still test well.
To clarify random questions will not solve educations problems. There is a distinct process and framing that should happen. We need to teach students how to form good questions, develop questions and find the questions that are worth pursuing.
This is the three part framework of the book. It begins with WHY.
WHY helps understand the problem or issue.
WHAT IF begins the brainstorming process of how to solve the problem.
HOW challenges the questioner to figure out real life solutions.
When students or adults are taught the framework and learn to process information through it they are able to tackle larger projects. They become excited by the possibilities and engaged in the material. Instead of learning a unit students are launched into an expedition. Instead of doing reserach cards they are excited by the possibilities of what they may find.
I did not even finish the book before my brain was running with possibilities. I had written a new curriculum in my head. Dreamed of possibilities and how using the framework within the book could transform the learning of history and civics within my class room. I was excited and charged. Ready to burst at the seems.
If that book could do that for a tired mom of two with a newborn, what could it do for students?