What is culture? Can a country share a culture? A city? An organization? A family? How do we change the way a group of people think?
I started noticing that my family has its own culture. We celebrate Christmas for two days, rather than one. We like to celebrate with a game night: the entire family gathers on Christmas Eve, sleeping in the same house, and then having an early morning and a large meal together the next day. Culture.
When I finished grad school, I moved to Japan and noticed that men in downtown Tokyo liked to have David-Bowie-Labyrinth hair and carry, what appeared to me, purses. Japanese believed in being silent on the trains and being punctual. Culture.
I moved to Vietnam a few years later and got a job as
The beautiful thing that happened here is that I had a series of questions that I continued to ask and through experience, I began to shape my knowledge. Am I done asking this question? Heck no! But the incredible thing is that I will never stop asking it.
I am not necessarily here to talk to you about my own essential question. I am trying to illustrate my own life-long question and how it has been meaningful to me. With the above example, I would like to advocate for us to encourage people to ask their own big questions. So often, teachers supply the essential questions to their students by prewriting their units. What if students could pose their own meaningful questions that were burning inside them?
This blog post is inspired by my COETAIL course which asks us to write a response to the prompt: How will you actively seek out knowledge instead of letting it come to you? My answer is really to help our students to find those
What I am advocating for As Diana Laufenberg tells us in her TEDx Talk, we live in a time with data surplus. It’s not necessarily a matter of waiting for information to come to us. It’s a matter of us having an open-ended question that we are deeply curious to answer and using that question to guide us through the sea of information. No question, no engaging with online communities. We lurk, we consume without connection to our lives. Nothing is relevant if we are not curious.
The Kwik Brain Podcast (below) has a great and short episode about asking the right questions. It’s a must listen.
So we really have to ask a few questions of ourselves. How are we curious learners? Are we modeling curiosity as teachers and leaders? Are we asking the right questions of our students that encourage them to dive into their interests? Do we even know our students well enough to know what interests they have?
As teacher-coaches, we have to start with relationships with our students. When we know them, we can encourage their own burning questions. Only then can we guide them through the vast amounts of information online to their truths