“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.” -Warren Berger
What do Bad Guiding Questions Look Like?
- "What medical practices were used in the Civil War?"
- This is easily googleable and does not drive insight. A student could have an answer to this question ready in five minutes.
- “What did we say was true of all four-sided shapes?”
- This is what we call a leading question. This is pointing the student to one correct answer.
- “What did Nietzsche call his idealized version of man?”
- This is a leading question. Instead, ask something like “What impact did Nietzche’s ideas of the Übermensch, or Overman, have on modern society?”.
- “Why was the 13th amendment enacted?”
- This could lead to deeper insight, but there will likely be a one hour investigation instead of 5 hours. A better question would be “What would the United States look like today if the 13th amendment was never enacted?”
What do Good Guiding Questions Look Like?
- “To what extent does power or the lack of power affect individuals?”
- “Can you trace where in the universe your body’s elements were first created?”
- “How can we use our technology to improve the average, healthy body?”
- “What is happiness, and what is the degree of importance in one’s life?”
- “Which founding father was least confident in the eventual success of the US?”
Ask yourself, is your guiding question:
- focused on a specific topic?