One of the books that has helped pushed questioning to the front-and-center of the education agenda is Warren Berger’s A More Beautiful Question. A More Beautiful Question is not a book about education specifically, but a book about the way raising questions changes human learning, interaction, and invention. This is a book focused on innovation, and the types of learning that will help more it forward.
What makes a question beautiful? From the associated website, here’s Berger’s answer.
A beautiful question is an ambitious yet actionable question that can begin to shift the way we perceive or think about something—and that might serve as a catalyst to bring about change.
That definition makes clear that this book is not about grand philosophical or spiritual questions—Why are we here? How does one define “good”? Is there life after death?—all of those great questions that spark endless, impassioned debate. … The focus here is on questions that can be acted upon.
From that perspective, a beautiful question helps the questioner move forward—to learn more, solve a problem, imagine a better way. Berger suggests a three-stage progression in questioning: Why—What if—How. These categories envision the questioner looking at a situation and asking
- Why does it have to be this way?
- What if we could. . . . ?
- How could we do it?
This is a powerful sequence to teach questioners of any age.
If you teach about invention or innovation, work with maker activities, or just want students to envision the work differently, this book and website can be fine resources. Both contain many stories of questions leading to change and invention. The website also has a section of education-related blog posts, as well as quotations about questioning and even a Spotify playlist of songs that ask questions!
A More Beautiful Question is not a how-to book, but it is a book that may inspire you to take your role as a teacher and modeler of questioning more seriously. Explore and see. Here’s the book trailer to get you started.
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