"All learning is the result of inquiry"

said Virginia F. and John M. Ritter in 1979, and it still holds true today. Give students meaningful questions to answer, and they will naturally engage in the search for information (inquiry). A teacher can guide and resource the student’s learning, but the essential relationship is between the student and the subject of her inquiry.

Our department chairperson sent us David Wilhelm‘s chapter on “Asking Guiding Questions” and then allowed us the luxury of a philosophical hour. Our instructions were to come up with a list of inquiries that we–as five male teachers sitting around together–might find engaging. We were treated as learning human beings, not conveyors of curriculum, and it was invigorating and fun. Thank you, Boss!
Although we threw the list together with no preparation, we were able to generate at least 24 questions that–taken individually–could easily inspire a semester or more’s worth of genuine inquiry. You’ll notice that we also gave into our sense of play and, noticing our all-male group, exploited some stereotypes for humorous purposes.
Here’s the list, dear reader:

  1. Should students be treated like adults? Should they be given the freedoms of adulthood?
  2. Which rules are necessary? To what extent are certain rules designed for adolescents? To what extent should they be designed for adolescents?
  3. What should I do with my life?
  4. Does school prepare me for the real world? What should we be doing in school to prepare you for the real world?
  5. What is the correct answer to “Do I look fat in these jeans?”
  6. Do we expect enough or too much of students? To what extent do expectations conflict with reality in terms of school standards?
  7. Ethical questions related to sports
  8. To what extent should we value sports?
  9. What is the function of celebrity? To what extent do they help/hinder the progress of society?
  10. What is the meaning of life?
  11. What is the nature of friendships? What makes a friendship meaningful?
  12. What do the most popular television shows reflect on the nature of our society?
  13. Is television art?
  14. What do women want?
  15. What is America’s role in the world today? How should we approach the war on terror?
  16. Where is education in America heading towards?
  17. How important is money to happiness?
  18. Why can’t I be angry when dinner isn’t ready when I come home?
  19. How has pop culture influenced my spending?
  20. What does it cost (my parents) to be in the in-crowd?
  21. When do I start saving money?
  22. What are my responsibilities to the eco-system?
  23. What are my responsibilities towards ____________________(fill in the blank)?
  24. What is our fascination with fire?

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