‘Google Uncle’, as I like to refer to the most popular search engine, has all the answers. Any question posed to him and he instantly churns out innumerable answers. Search engines work on the logic that the answers are all there, the information is all there, what is required is asking the right questions! I have noticed several times that many of my colleagues fail to find the relevant or desired information while at work. This can be frustrating, especially when research is an integral part of the work we do at LXL Ideas. Over the years, I have realised that not everyone knows ‘how’ to ask the ‘right’ questions to Google!
If we dig a little deeper, we realise that this has to do with the way we were brought up and the manner in which our schools educated us. A normal upbringing for most of us at home has primarily focused on instructions and questions have been rarely encouraged. In school too, our ability to question is questioned. The focus of our educational system has always been and continues to be ‘answers’. We are supposed to learn the answers and the more we can answer, the better grades we get. Schooling teaches us to search for the right answers, give the right answers and derive the right solutions. Eventually, it all boils down to being about the answers. Our educational system has diminished our ability to ask questions in a very conscious and systematic manner!
It is already apparent in our world today that all the information is out there and learning information is definitely not the key to a good life in future. Seeking the right information from the abundance of information out there is a necessary skill. This simply means that we need to teach our children to ‘ask questions’ and this for me seems so contrary to what we are doing in schools today. We have no choice but to gear our pedagogical processes and ourselves to focus more on the child’s ability to raise questions. This is easier said than done. Our entire pedagogy, teaching style, curriculum, examination and grading system needs a relook. While we are all aware that this will take time. In the meantime, what must be done to teach the skill of questioning, critical thinking and problem solving to our children?
Another pressing reason why we should be teaching this skill to our children is to solve the new problems we are facing as a planet and the undiscovered problems we will face in future. The world will throw up to our children, very intriguing and unexpected social, economical, political, environmental, religious and spiritual challenges that need to be addressed. Past knowledge, problem solving skills and information will be of little help in solving the future problems. New thinking and innovation will be key and the basic founding block of any new thinking is a new question!