Asking The Right Question

“Perception is strong and sight weak. In strategy it is important to see distant things as if they were close and to take a distanced view of close things.”
Miyamoto Musashi


Asking The Right Question

I’ve been a bit amused/horrified to see, even with my attempts to avoid social media, posts by parents who have given up with their kids in this isolation no-school era. My kids are driving me nuts, they say.

To me, it shows that the parents never did any parenting. Sure, they fed their kid and made sure that they had day care and did a bunch of parenting activities that are the white noise of parenting. They never built a relationship with their child and now it really shows.

I’ll admit that I obsess on education. I think about it all of the time.

I am convinced that:

  • Repetition is the key to learning.
    I have friends who are ex-military for years and they can recite every part of their rifle. Boot camp is an amazing thing and at it’s core is repetition. I think back to when I was a teacher and, knowing more now, I wish that I had returned to the foundation of the early classes much more often and over and over and over again.
  • Art classes are crucial.
    Now I get it. Art classes at any age but especially at early ages teach abstract thinking. This exercise makes you smarter and makes you a better problem solver. Sure, math is abstract and we want some geniuses to make technology to save the world but they’d be much more geniusy if they’d done some painting, writing, dancing, singing, acting, story-telling, poetry and more.
  • The parent is everything to a kid’s education.
    I was talking to a guy who is a big second amendment guy. He said he’d never give up his assault rifle, they’d have to take it from his bloody hands. He is also a father to a young son and he told me that he is aware that his kid is always watching him like a hawk to learn behavior. He knows that he has attitudes that he does not want to pass down to his kid.

Reading over the education areas of the internet, I see this question a lot, “How do we get our kids to read?”. The burn is that it is not the right question. With the wrong question we chase down empty roads and come up with story-book technology that talks to back to the kid to keep that kid engaged in an educational activity.

The question is, “How do we get the parents to read?”. We don’t see that much at all. Ask a parent to pretend to like reading seems far-fetched. But it would make all of the difference to that kid. All of the difference.

I’d ask a parent, “How many times have you watched Frozen?”. If the answer is an eye-roll and a too many, then that is exactly when that kid is ripe for learning and repetition from the parent. It is time to teach the ABCs and colors and adding because the kid doesn’t want a new toy. The kid wants attention from the parent and will gladly sit at the table and go over the alphabet and practice writing (and drawing!). And now there is a relationship and you don’t go crazy when you have to be isolated — there is a well-worn path with your children and teen-agers.

To those “on the path” there is a lot of time spent on Who Am I? This leads to a lot of self-contemplation and explorations of humility and enlightenment.

But, there are other questions like Why Am I? This leads to action! This is not so inner-self but more about our place in the world and interactions with others. And a lot more fun, if you ask me.

Even the question, “When Am I? is interesting. We know that it is the conceit of every generation to think that it is at the height of progress, science, society and modern thinking. We also know that in fifty years that they’ll look back at our conceit and see something trite. Placing yourself in the When Am I is a great question that really does keep you humble (even as I type this with authority).

With this firmly in mind, I am prepared to respond, “That is not the right question.” Questioning the questions is paramount to understanding and directed behavior. What is the question that needs asking?

All too often we see the asking to solutions to prejudice, education and enlightenment. The answers can lead to reform and that can be a good thing. But really that reform masks the real problems because the right question was not asked and we chase down empty roads looking for answers.

And that is all I have to say about that.

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