Author and teacher, Angela Maiers, is a passionate advocate of life-long learning, and this lesson she shared with a group of first graders is just as valuable for us with 50+ more years down the road. Angela and the first graders talked about power of curiosity, and more specifically the power we hold as learners when we know how to ask the right question.
She says, “Being in charge of the questions we ask matters. Successful thinking and learning require questions to be framed in a wide variety of ways. The ‘framing’ of our questions dramatically influences what we can and are able to understand. Just teaching students to question is not enough. It is critical to explore where different questions take us as learners.”
We have become skilled at answering questions. Think about the experience you have in test prep. Think about all your interview prep sessions. How many sites do you Google for sample questions before an interview, to minimize any surprise questions? That’s a great way for the interviewer to learn about you, but what have you learned in the process?
I remember telling my own children, when they were stressing over the questions a college admissions’ officer would ask them, that it was even more important for them to ask questions about the college – courses, professors, culture etc. Gradually, they understood that they were signing up for four years of living and learning – at an, even then, pretty steep cost – and it would behoove them to ask a few questions. They had a moment of enlightenment as they realized they, too, had something special to offer, and their questions about the institution where they wanted to invest their hearts, minds, time, and money also let the interviewer see and understand the assets they were bringing to the table.
The same experience applies to you, whether you are interviewing for a job or for a loan to start your own business. Let your interviewer know the assets you bring and ask the questions that will prompt them to sell that job or loan to you.
Maiers says, “It is important for us to know how the types of questions we ask impact and influence the answers we are capable of getting.”
Different kinds of questions she describes are:
· Clarifying Questions
· Sorting and Sifting Out Questions
· Strategic Questions
· Planning Questions
· Elaboration Questions
· Comparing Questions
Specific cues he offers to stimulate questions are:
- Take a cue from the Jewish Seder. A traditional Passover Seder involves the ritual asking of questions, the most famous of which is, “Why is this night different from all other nights?” That question is at the heart of all story telling…
- Take a cue from Reddit… Two of their best-loved boards are Ask Me Anything and Explain Like I’m Five…
- Take a cue from the reporter of your dreams… Sit down and interview yourself. Ask yourself all the questions you wish real reporters would take the time to consider…
- Take a cue from your readers. What are your fans always asking you?…
Once you have some answers, test them by taking a few steps forward. You may have to back-up and try again, but first, ask yourself why these initial steps did or did not work? The answers will put you in an even stronger position to take those next steps.
Just Start Asking!