A new standard for good questions

March 15th, 2011

Few tools are more critical to learning than the ability to ask good questions. Unfortunately, most people believe that a good question is open-ended and a bad question is closed-ended. Not true.

This traditional standard is grossly inaccurate. Exceptional questions can be open and closed-ended. My daughter asked me, “Can dogs see better than humans at night?” This is an excellent question. The fact that it is closed-ended doesn’t matter.

Abandon the old definition of a good question. Don’t worry about whether a question begins with who, what, where, when, why , or how.

Consider a new standard for good questions:

1) Was the question’s origin authentic curiosity?

2) Did the question awaken curiosity in others?

3) Did the question generate additional good questions?

Promote learning and engage students at a deeper level by asking excellent questions. Better yet, teach students how to recognize and ask good questions for themselves. Few skills are more important for life-long learning.

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