The best gift of coming in to a place as a fresh set of eyes is the ability or permission to ask questions. Even if I don’t necessarily have permission, I am taking the liberty. This time is such a gift. It is a time to open one’s mind and ears and listen with a full heart. To take in as much information as possible, synthesize it, analyze it, and determine the good, the bad, and the ugly, so to speak. Or in my case, the awesome, the ok, and the “let’s take a look at that” (no bad, no ugly, of course!)
This makes me think of the journey our children take each day as they go through 4-7 classes, practices, clubs, rehearsals, meetings, and meals. They have abundant interactions with peers and adults each day that present them with the opportunity to accept what they see and hear, or ask questions. Now obviously, we don’t want to develop a generation of pesterers. (Yes, I think I made that word up.) However, we do want our children to think deeply and critically. Some answers are easy. Do you want Chipotle for lunch? Yes, always yes. Some are hard. Should I give pocket change to that homeless person? For me, still yes, but for many a very hard answer.
Are we giving our students the permission to ask questions? Are we encouraging them to weave their journey by grappling with tough questions where yes and no are not so easy? In order for them to do this, we need to provide them with trusted adults-teachers, mentors, parents, and coaches-who build relationships first. A child who knows an adult trusts, loves, and believes in them is a child who will ask the questions. Then we provide them the space to ask and the tools to ask.
How? Why? I Wonder? Are all simple words and phrases that open our children to deep and critical thinking. We are in an era where we are reconsidering, rethinking the work we do in schools. We are asking ourselves tough questions. One thing will certainly remain, we must encourage our children to ask them, too.