Wednesday, October 31, 2012

On the Nature of Questions and Answers

A recent post by Kevin J. Ruth, Answers Are So Yesterday, got me to think about the nature of questions and answers.

Here are a few thoughts.

1.  We need answers, whether we want to admit it or not.

Problem solving is a critical skill.  To be a problem solver, you certainly need to ask questions, but if you never offer an answer, you haven't really solved anything.  We need answers, even if to force us to ask more questions.

2.  Answers are not the problem.  The type of answer is the problem.

Answers that make the audience think are valuable.  Answers that prompt additional questions are valuable.  Answers that silence the crowd are only useful in emergencies.  In schools, we need more answers that lead to better questions.  Answers that can be found with a simply Google search are losing value - quickly. 

3.  Bad questions are worse than bad answers.

If you ask a bad question, you will almost always get a bad answer, or at least an answer you were not expecting.  Bad answers can often be the "fruit of the forbidden tree."  If you want better answers, then you need to be willing to critically examine the questions you ask.

4.  More questions are not the same as useful questions.

Asking the same question over and over again is normally not valuable or useful to the group.  Useful questions move the discussion forward.  Asking questions for the sake of asking slows progress.  Asking questions for the purpose of deeper understanding is useful.

5.  There will always be more questions than answers, so answers must have value.

If answers were not important, we would stop asking so many questions.  Our thirst for understanding and meaning move us to explore and create new knowledge.  We need questions to fuel that exploration and answers to illuminate the path.

6.  Therefore, both questions and answers are equally important.  You don't really need to choose one over the other.  They need each other to exist.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...