Creative Commons

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Who asks a more beautiful question?

A poll conducted by Harvard Business Review up to 80 percent of 200 clients revealed that interactions with their children comprised of questions. However, only 15-25 percent of adult interactions comprised of questions.

This is hardly surprising. We are rewarded for finding answers, not for asking questions. Think about your early days in school. The answer is king. Questions are invite scorn. At the work place, asking questions could get one into trouble with colleagues or even the boss.

Does society abhor questions? The great American poet E.E. Cummings wrote;  “Always the beautiful answer who asks a more beautiful question”. At the heart of human progress is an indomitable, insatiable quest to know. The arc of questioning stretches from the primordial simple desire to know the what, to the more complex plane of why and how.

Questions are essentially the tools we deploy to build tunnels into the minefields of hitherto unknown truths or construct the scaffolding to scale the heights of new knowledge. Questions are searchlights that refine our vision, and clarify where else we need to go.

Asking questions is fading fast as way of relating to our world. The industrial age and the structures of familial, corporate, religious and state authority have generally not encouraged questions. Mass education; from primary to tertiary level is built upon rote learning and unquestioning acceptance of facts delivered through a prescribed syllabus.

Sadly the primary purpose of education is not to produce skeptical, questioning and thinking citizens. The high purpose of education in the neoliberal world order is to produce workers, people with skills. The school is a veritable skill factory.

Capacity to think and ask questions is now a place of high privilege, which most citizens cannot of the culture and attitude of asking questions is occurring at a period in human history that demands that we deal with change and find novel ways of understanding and acting in the world.

The scale and speed of change demand that we learn and unlearn fast. Navigating complexity change and uncertainty while responding new opportunities through creativity and innovation is not going to be possible if we stay on the path of passive, compliant and unquestioning engagement with a dynamic world.

The uncertain future must be confronted and conquered through bold questions and audacious experiments. Our socialization and especially how we educate our children; from kindergarten to graduate school must reinstate the question as the core engine of learning. Learning must be a search or pursuit through questions.

Education must be a search or pursuit through powered by questions. Education must put a premium on how precisely learners can express their ignorance. Education must be quest to define through questions that which we know not. Education and ultimately our adaptive fitness as a species will depend on the ingenuity of questions.


Our quest for nationhood will be better served by voters who ask politicians questions so they are less likely to fall prey of demagogues and despicable ethnic zealots.

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