Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Inquiry Breaks Down Rigidity

This past weekend, I attended my third Educon at Science Leadership Academy. While I always enjoy this annual event, I found this year's conference to be particularly helpful.

Specifically, Chris Lehmann's session on structured inquiry helped me consider a critically important point:
Inquiry breaks down rigidity.


Well, as someone who works with essential questions and structured inquiry every day, I can write a pretty mean essential question. I also know that asking kids open-ended questions makes the learning environment more unpredictable, fluid, and interesting. However, I hadn't considered the role of inquiry in progressive problem resolution.

Ok-- Let me paraphrase Chris' story--
Chris aptly stated that most arguments have a point which is commonly answered by a counterpoint. In communities or cultures that value inquiry, however, most points are not answered by counterpoints. Instead, they are answered by QUESTIONS.  

Interesting, huh?

So instead of becoming mired in your opinion, you have to reconsider your stance over and over again. It helps people to consider the different ways that someone can approach a problem without aggressive or non-productive confrontation.

So instead of:
Point <---> Counterpoint

Point <---> Question <---> Think <---> Answer <---> Question

Having tried this myself several times since Sunday, I can tell you that it's working quite nicely. Instead of inviting confrontation, a good question seems to engage me and my various discussion partners in conversations that lead to blended solutions.

How will you wield the power of inquiry today?


  1. I can agree that askng additional questions after a point is made can also buy you time in a difficult situation. Rather than firing back at a colleague when you think you may not agree, asking a question can defuse the energy in a difficult confrontation. In terms of work wth students, it pushes them to prove their point, think of new angle, or find more evidence - all good skills to foster.

  2. First, we have to think question and questions about the question. Second is how to put the rights questions.



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