As far as teaching is concerned, you can never underestimate the power of a beautiful question. A wise teacher knows students can learn more through contemplating a thought-provoking question than listening to a well-planned lecture or speech.
Poet, David Whyte reminds us that a beautiful question is invitational. It can make you stop, hold space and ponder. And the pondering and wondering can last for days, weeks or even years. Well thought-through questions invite us to imagine different horizons. They shift the way we perceive or think about something and can serve as a catalyst to bring about further change.
American poet, EE Cumming acknowledges the importance of a good question when he wrote, "Always the beautiful answer who asks a more beautiful question”.
As we returned to school this week, we prioritised the need for our staff and students to hold space and to reflect. These have been extraordinary times: a whole country in lockdown, border closures and eight weeks at home. We have walked silent streets, spent quality time with our families and experienced the unfolding of a beautiful autumn. At the same time, we are processing economic hardships, escalating death tolls and a world that has irrevocably changed.
So, what are the important questions we need to ask ourselves as we transition from self-isolation back to school? What are the beautiful questions that invite us to reflect, process and to develop self-awareness? And how do we ask those questions in a way that stimulates hope moving forward?
In arriving back to school, staff and students have been invited to reflect on their experience of isolation and to consider how living through this moment in history could shape them moving forward.
In this short blog post, I wanted to share some of the questions we have posed to our community. These big picture questions are relevant for individuals, our organisation and for humanity as a whole:
What did you miss in lockdown? What did you not miss, that you thought you would?
What do you feel grateful for?
What three items would you put in a time capsule to reflect your self-isolation experience?
What did you learn about yourself through this experience?
What character strengths have kept you buoyant through uncertainty and challenge?
What actions would you like to bring forward from this experience?
What small steps can you take to move forward with hope?
Providing students with the space to consider their responses to such a significant event is a critical first step to re-engage our learners at school. What big picture questions have helped you process and grow through this experience?
Kerry Larby, Head of Well-being and Positive Education
Thursday 21 May 2020