Teach Children to Ask Their Own Questions

A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas

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“The best creative solutions don’t come from finding good answers to the questions that are presented. They come from inventing new questions.” ~Seth Godin. Question the question.

The classic model of teaching is leading students by asking questions. It’s often called The Socratic Method, after the ancient Greek philosopher, but it’s a staple of the modern classrooms from elementary school up to college. The most famous Hollywood version of it may be from the film and TV show, The Paper Chase, set at Harvard Law School.

Educators Dan Rothstein and Luz Santana want to turn the standard model on its head. They’ve founded the “Right Question Institute,” based on the idea that it’s much more effective to teach students to formulate and ask their own questions. It’s critical not just for the classroom, but for students’ lives.

Additional Resources:

Live: Questions in progress!

Character Lab - Teacher Innovation Grant Winner - Curious & Curiouser! So many questions!

New Interactive Learning Technology

Discovery Education's Social Studies Techbook - How Can We Make the 63,000 Questions We Ask in a Year Better?


A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas - by Warren Berger
Beyond Rhetorical Questions: Assertive questions in everyday interaction, by Irene Koshik
Why Do You Ask?: The Function of Questions in Institutional Discourse, by Alice Freed (Editor), Susan Ehrlich (Editor)

Innovator's DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators –by Jeff Dyer (Author), Hal Gregersen (Author), Clayton M. Christensen

Change Your Questions, Change Your Life: 10 Powerful Tools for Life and Work (Inquiry Institute Library) by Marilee Adams               


4-24 Project - a community dedicated to rekindling the provocative power to ask the right questions in adults so they can pass this crucial skill onto the next generation.

Inquiry Institute - Great results begin with great questions

Use Catalytic Questioning to Solve Significant Problems - by Hal Gregersen July 19, 2013

Creative Questioning:The art of asking dumb questions, Leadership Development at The Banff Centre

Visible Thinking: A routine for generating and transforming questions

How to design a classroom built on inquiry openness and trust - By Shelley Wright September 8, 2015

The power of question formulation - Educational Leadership -October 2014 | Volume 72 | Number 2  Instruction That Sticks

Do You have the Personality To Be an Inquiry-Based Teacher? By MindShift November 21, 2013

What's going on in this picture? - Every Monday the New York Times publishes a single image without a caption and asks students what they think is going on in the picture. From 9am-2pm Eastern that day students who register on the site are also invited to post what they think they see, explain why and ask questions through a moderated forum. Critical thinking, communication, collaboration, it's all there.

Asking Questions more open-ended-ly and creatively

5 Ways to Help Your Students Become Better Questioners

Encouraging student questioning

How can we teach kids to question?


Randall Munroe: Comics that ask "what if?" - Randall Munroe, Cartoonist, Filmed Mar 2014

Educators Want Students To Ask The Questions 

3 Rules to spark learning - Ramsey Musallam

Ask better questions | Joe Burgum | TEDxFargo

How to ask the right Questions - Hal Gregersen - Gregersen is the creator of Forbes’ Most Innovative Companies list and founder of the 4-24 project, which is dedicated to rekindling in adults the provocative power of asking the right questions to ultimately cultivate the next generation of innovative leaders.

Evaluation results

13 evaluations so far

1. Potential for Impact: Imagine this solution had near perfect implementation. To what extent would this solution bring about a culture of innovation within a school or classroom?

A lot! This solution would greatly bring about a culture of innovation in schools or classrooms. - 53.8%

Somewhat. This solution would somewhat bring about a culture of innovation in schools or classrooms. - 38.5%

Not much. This solution might help with other things, but I don't see it really bringing about a culture of innovation within schools or classrooms. - 7.7%

2. Feasibility and Fit: To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement: If this solution were available to me right now, I would be able to use it with relatively low investment. (i.e. money, time, or skills).

Strongly agree (this solution strongly aligns to my/my school's current capacities). - 46.2%

Agree. - 46.2%

Neutral. - 0%

Disagree. - 7.7%

Strongly disagree (this solution would take a big lift in resources to pull off). - 0%

3. Adaptability: I could imagine this solution working well in a variety of school and classroom contexts across a diverse set of needs.

Absolutely! I could see this working for a variety of schools and classrooms with different or unique needs. - 61.5%

Somewhat. I could see this working for many schools and classrooms, but it might need some adjusting to fit a broad diversity of contexts. - 38.5%

Not a lot. This seems like it might be better suited to only a few contexts. - 0%

4. Scalability: To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement: This idea could be adopted by an ever-growing number of teachers or students without requiring significant changes.

Strongly agree (this solution could easily scale without any significant changes). - 46.2%

Agree. - 38.5%

Neutral. - 7.7%

Disagree. - 7.7%

Strongly disagree (this solution would require significant changes in order to properly scale). - 0%

5. Desirability: Do you wish this solution were available to you right now?

1 - Not a lot. There's not a big need for this right now and/or we use something already that fulfills a similar purpose in my school or classroom. - 0%

2 - 7.7%

3 - 23.1%

4 - 38.5%

5 - A lot! There's nothing like this already and I'd love to have it in my school or classroom. - 30.8%


Join the conversation:

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Wow! What a great collection of resources, approaches and ideas. Thanks everyone.
I am wondering what routines and rituals can he teachers to shift their vision of teaching away from leading students to THE answer and toward fostering interests and passions and valuing student thinking and student generated questions. Our current routines and rituals still support teacher as the centre of knowledge-what key everyday, small changes in behavior will start to move us toward a new centre for our classrooms. I think you have hit on a huge one -ask more high level questions, a second might be to talk less-whoever is doing the talking is doing the most thinking.

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