Questions

Questions don't change anything - but they do provide a mechanism for understanding how things work, and how they could work better. I remember Paul Holmes visiting Wainuiomata, and asking a boy if he knew what made the wind blow. Apparently the trees do, by waving their branches. that episode got an A for cuteness - but an F for failing to encourage the lad to ask more questions. Having an answer doe not make it right. If it did, I'd have solved all the world's problems a long time ago.

Some people ask questions expecting a certain answer, much like The Riddler. The really valuable questions are open and lead to growth. Children are born curious - and that's how they grow. Sadly curiosity is all too often stifled out of most children, so by the time they're in their teens they've already taken a blue pill without even realising it.

Asking questions by itself does nothing - it is only a start on the road to finding an answer. To find the "right' answer, we first need to ask the right questions. Knowing which questions will lead to useful answers is not easy in itself. If a question doesn't lead to useful answers, it may have been a wrong question, or it may have been asked at the wrong time. For example, some questions need other questions to be tackled before useful answers can be found. I remember seeing a boy from Wainuiomata on the Paul Holmes show (showing my age here). He explained how the wind was made by the trees waving their branches. Paul smailed and people loved the story. I know TV has strict time limits, but that was a clear example of a youngster needing to be asked more questions (and not simply to be told they were wrong).

Once we've asked questions, we need to find answers. A question with no answer does not solve anything, although it may lead to further questions that do lead to answers. Not many questions have answers that are always right. An obvious exception might be the ten commandments. Take "do not murder" for example. That seems fairly obvious to most, but Dietrich Bonhoeffer eventually decided Hitler needed to be killed anyway. He was executed, but most would feel trying to save a multitude of lives by killing one person was justified.

Each question has multiple possible solutions. The only way to know if we've chosen a useful answer is by trying it. The first attempt might not work as well as desired. It may be there's a better answer, or perhaps the solution just needs some fine-tuning to cater for more factors. Even if it does work for one person, it won't necessarily be the best solution for everyone. It may not even be the best solution for the same person at a different time.

The last part of a question is evaluating solutions. This often leads to further refinement of the solution, so even finding an answer to a question does not mean the end of the process. We can see the admirable answer to social issues introduced by Savage in 1938 has contributed to issues facing us today. That's not to say he was wrong to tackle long-running big problems, but as with every good system, his answer has been corrupted over time as society has lost its way.

Thomas Edison shows the value of perseverance. He failed more than 1,000 times when trying to create the light bulb. When asked about it, Edison allegedly said, "I have not failed 1,000 times. I have successfully discovered 1,000 ways to NOT make a light bulb. Would he have invented the light bulb if he had been through the school system where "right" answers are expected and curiosity is so often discouraged? And if you think I am exaggerating, read John Taylor Gatto's farewell to the school system, delivered on his third New York teacher of the year award.

 

Last Modified

Last modified: 28 November 2020.