Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Asking Questions Contributing to Intellectual Discussion

I've often wondered, is it possible to contribute to intellectual conversations simply by asking questions?

Here's what I mean and why I am asking the question -

As people who have read me before know, I have a long tradition of asking questions about current events news articles. These questions are designed to promote high quality conversations on worldly topics. But the questions themselves do not offer direct insights and opinions. Rather they provide structures that support others in offering insights and opinions. Consequently, I can't help but wonder, if I ask questions am I personally contributing to intellectual discussion?

I guess another question could be asked - if a student asks a question in a classroom that promotes thought, should the question be considered as significant a contribution as an insightful comment or opinion? I'm specifically referring to the kind of question that would promote further discussion, not a closed ended question that could be answered with a simple yes or no.

Personally, I think that questions can often be more provocative and enhancing than comments. Questions are the impetus for learning. Questions demonstrate critical thinking ability. However, I fear that we live in a society in which questions are not considered as important as answers. People tend to want, not answers, but the answer.

Since single answers often do not exist, such thinking is limiting. But, I don't think that we live in the most intellectually engaging society.

What do you think?

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