One of the things I love most about being around young children, is their passionate and fierce sense of curiosity.
It defines their genius. Why is the sky blue? Who discovered the world? How did the sun get so hot? Where did toothpaste come from? And my favorite: Are we there yet?
I’m not sure exactly when it happens, but somewhere between grade school and grad school we stop relishing in the question and start celebrating answers. I never want children (or adults) to underestimate the power questions hold; especially when asked of the right people at the right time.
One of my favorite lessons to teach, is the ”The Art of Asking Genius Questions”; taken right from the playbook of my curiosity mentor and coach, Albert Einstein.
The goal of the lesson is to help students; big and small, understand that genius is not determined by the questions you are able to answer but rather the questions you are courageous enough to ask of yourselves and of the others you lead and serve.
I have found the following 12 Questions Most Important. They are the questions commonly asked by genius learners, genius leaders, genius teams and organizations, and with a little practice an be a part of your genius too.
These questions come in no particular order, but each will flex your “question-asking muscles” in a way that promises to grow your strength and courage in pursuing solutions to those you lead and serve.
1. How can we make it /each other better?
2. How do we know this to be so?
3. Is this what is needed most?
4. What is it we hope to accomplish and what’s stopping us?
5. What are we most proud of?
6. What is possible?
7. When can we start?
8. How will we prevent failure?
9. Who/how can we make this happen?
10. What do we regret most?
11. How can we make the best use of…?
12. What if we…(Dream big!)
If it has been a while, since your classroom or boardroom has been filled with conversations beginning this way, there are experts in our midst ready and willing to show us how it’s done:
You are on the brink of brilliance, but like every great innovator, inventor, ideator and initiator…you must practice your genius.
Your homework this week will be to give each of these questions a try. Don’t be afraid to ask new questions, and more importantly don’t be afraid to surround yourself with individuals brave enough put the answers to use. The possibilities are endless.
Angela Maiers is an award-winning educator, speaker, consultant and professional trainer known for her work in literacy, leadership and global communications. She is a consistently energized and recognized worldwide speaker greatly impacting leadership through not only the education field, but the international business community as well. Challenging educational philosophies and business ethics, Angela strives to achieve total synergy and unstoppable energy by reconstructing the thought process of many dated ideologies.
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What if we asked, "what would you like to learn today"? Then try and tie as many of their inquiries into the subject at hand. I think this would lead to them asking many questions such as "why?", how do we make it better? . . .as always Angela spurs creative thinking!!! Nice work.
Who has answers to the question: "What are the components of a school culture that has a goal graduating students who see success and failure as simply two paths to learning?" For instance, would the report card have as an item (up at the top) "Learns from failure" or more radical "Welcomes failure."???
I'd first ask how each learner (or educator) defines "success." If success is related to GPA, number of AP courses, reputation of college acceptances -- or future income, home zip code, number of direct reports -- then failure is the opposite.
If success is being true to oneself and ones' communities, then what others would see as traditional "failures" are just learning opportunities, not failures at all. In that case, not being being true to one's deeper potential, being inauthentic, would be failure.
I must say that these are inspiring. Perhaps my favorite is "What's stopping us?" although I tend to say and think "What are the barriers to success?". I do have another one I often think about "What if I were in her/his shoes, what would I do?".
Another great, thought provoking post, @AngelaMaiers. I wonder if question number 8 might enjoy a supplement such as, "In the event of failure, what can we learn from it?" Failure is, after all, a necessary step in improvement and whether it becomes a stumbling block or stepping stone depends on what we make of it. As the Chinese say, "Fall seven times, stand up eight."
As always, I look forward to more of your posts. Cheers.
@AngelaMaiers@JayCollier Yes, thank you both. I just listed to Peter again for the sixth time--It's like going back to the well. Writing about it again now. I had a kindergarten teacher about 30 years ago say: I see any unused ability in my class as an incipient behavior problem. What if all teachers started of the year with a genius (read spark or spirit) survey.. Peter says their research uncovered 220 different sparks. Actually, I think the truth is there are 7 billion in the world today.
I returned to this post again, today. It is, central to my mission; i.e. to change the Game of School.
I am using this quotation: to help educators, "big and small, understand that genius is not determined by the questions you are able to answer but rather the questions you are courageous enough to ask of yourselves and of the others you lead and serve." In my writing today. Thank you.
I should have known this was one of your messages. I saw the compelling title in a tweet. As always, you get us to do some much needed reflection about what's the bigger picture that beckons us and pulls us forward to do good things in this world.
@shawmu You are the best my friend! Questions are the windows to the soul and the road to possibility! I learn to ask the best questions from hanging around with five year olds! Sometimes it is adults that need reminders!
@GaryLoper You are right on my friend! The questions we ask, or rather the questions we have the courage to pursue the answers to define our learning,life, and legacy! We need to wonder freely and carefully. Thank you for the questions you inspire me to pursue! #youmatter
@janetcallaway Aloha my friend! You are a brilliant question asker and question inspirer! I enjoy your posts and comments- they push my thinking and inspire me to better! You are a genius and the world is so lucky to have your contributions! #youmatter
Can I be one of your students, AM? I want to learn from you! I have so many questions. The question I often ask is, "What are YOU doing to repair the world?" That comes from my faith - Tikkun Olam is the Hebrew for that and it is a mission in my life to make a difference. Isn't that a primary reason to live?
@BruceSallan Hey How is my favorite student doing! You know you get all A's in my book by the brilliant and genius questions you ask and push our community to ask! You are my teach and I am so blessed to know and learn with you!
@BruceSallan Absolutely! I knew you were a master learner by the genius questions I see you asking! I love how your questions engage me, challenge me, and make me want to be smarter! Thank you my friend!