We seem always to be looking for answers.
Whether it is as part of our professional life, our search to find ourselves, our spiritual path, or as parents.
But do we stop to think about the questions we ask? What if there are better questions to pose?
And what if we are stuck on the wrong question?
The answers we will find are as good as the questions we ask.
Therefore, if we want to find answers that improve our lives (and the lives of others), we need to spend time thinking about our questions. We must reflect and come up with beautiful, meaningful, thoughtful questions.
Finding great questions also requires us to question our questions.
The first step is asking the right question
I will share a sad example that illustrates what can happen when people don’t stop to question their questions.
I live in Melbourne with my husband and lovely three boys. I don’t know if you know, but Melbourne has won the undesired title of the most lockdown city.
We were locked for 263 days. Yes. You read it correctly – 263. It was brutal.
Like in most countries, schools have moved to remote learning during this time.
Since my three boys attended three different schools then, I could observe how each of them approached the situation. It is an understatement to say that one of them had a less than ideal approach.
My youngest son attended primary (or elementary in some countries) school then. And his school focused on the academic side. They were focusing on the question – How might we deliver our curriculum remotely to achieve academic success?
They haven’t told me that this is the question they seek to answer. But their actions conveyed this message loud and clear. (Another thing to think about is our level of awareness of the questions that drive our behaviours and decision-making. Maybe the people at that school weren’t even thinking about what question drives their actions)
They continued with the same approach they had, pre-covid.
They provided strict guidelines, and students received strikes if they didn’t comply.
When I contacted the principal to say that the priority needs to be the children’s well-being and not their academic performance, I was ignored.
I heard similar stories from other parents.
The importance of questioning the question
The last straw for me was the rigid approach to attending the Zoom calls on time and ensuring the camera was on at all times. If a child was late to log in, they weren’t allowed to participate in that session.
It didn’t matter for the teachers that there might be technical issues (which there were) or other reasons to be late. It didn’t matter that these children weren’t living under normal conditions. It didn’t matter that we were all in a tough situation and struggling to cope.
All that mattered was the academic side.
One morning, my child came to speak with me, and he was very distressed. I have never seen him like that. He told me that he had some technical issues and his teacher kicked him out of the session. He wasn’t allowed back in.
For me, this was simply bullying. At that moment, I took my son out of school.
I am sharing with you this painful story because we all need to question our questions. We all need to rethink the drivers behind our decisions making and the actions we take. At times, we might find we have the wrong drivers. Sometimes we might see that the reality has changed, and our questions should change too.
That school has asked - How might we deliver our curriculum remotely to achieve academic success?
But if they were to question this question, they would have asked themselves–
Is this the right question we need to ask now? Why?
Is this an important question to ask? Why?
What should be our priorities now?
What might be better questioned to ask?
What else do we need to ask?
Maybe, just maybe, if they had stopped to question their question, they would have come up with a different question to guide them. Maybe, they would have come up with this question –
How might we look after our student’s well-being as our first priority?
I can share that mental issues among children in Melbourne have skyrocketed.
Our children’s well-being has been crashed, and many children are suffering.
What I would love for you to take away from this story is the need to question. The need to rethink and re-examine the questions that guide us. Doing so requires having an open mind, the ability to let go of previous ideas and thoughts and the willingness and flexibility to change path.
What question do you need to question now?
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