Friday, April 19, 2013

Question Everything

Questions are at the heart and brain of exploration.  Einstein found his theory of relativity by asking questions, for example.  He could have been asking about a ham sandwich, but that's how exploration works--start off in one direction, arrive at another.  Exploring the thoughts in a person's head can take them just about anywhere.

The two best questions begin with the words "What if?" and "Why?"  "Why is the sky blue?" is probably what got the first meteorologist started on his career path.  "What if we could build a computer half the size of the ones in use right now?" is likely how the first person to build a personal computer began to dream. 

There's something 'off' about a person who never questions anything, who just accepts what happens to them without voicing their opinions. The person who never questions is often viewed as flawed in some way, but there may be more to those situations than meets the eye.  The people who question everything are seen as flawed in some way, as well.  I disagree with that.  We should celebrate it when people ask us questions--it keeps us on our toes mentally.  When I have to explain my answer to a question, and I can answer the question, that tells me that I actually know my topic, instead of just memorizing some random fact.  You don't know a topic until you can explain it to someone else in a way that they learn it as well.  Knowledge is meant to be shared.

I ask "why" often.  I'm not being rude, but if a thing doesn't make sense to me, or doesn't seem to be efficient, I am driven to ask "why".  It doesn't matter if you're my boss or my boss' boss, or the President of the United States.  I still have to ask why.  My questions tend to drive people crazy, but I think that if you have a rule in place then you ought to be able to explain the rationale for the rule.  ("Because I said so" is not a rationale, by the way.  Nice try.)  If your rationale for the rule or the policy, then I am usually satisfied.  I tend to keep my "What ifs" to myself, because those questions get my brain going in all sorts of kooky directions, and people look at me funny if I share. 

Recently, I've noticed that my son has picked up some of my habits. He's started asking "why" about everything.  He's sharp and I enjoy our moments of bonding, when Zane asks me "Why" about something he's found or something he's seen.  Most of the questions I can answer relatively quickly, I've been happy to find.  His dad hasn't been so fortunate, so his response on those occasions is "Go ask your mother."

I can live with that.

How do you handle children's questions?


  1. Some of my favorite kids questions times are when we look something up together (my least favorite are when I really do know something and they really look like they don't believe me...they get that from their father)

  2. Oldest grandson is asking why more and more; and I have been enjoying his Mom and Dad's consternation. I tell them they're paying for their raising.

    Katie atBankerchick Scratchings

  3. They are 11 and 12. I tell them "google". :)

  4. I don't have kids, but I've found answering quickly, honestly and without emotive language works for even the toughest topics. I take Atticus (To kill a mockingbird) as my guide - his response when Scout asks what 'rape' is, is a masterclass in a correct, age-appropriate terse response with enough information to satisfy her!

    Of course I don't always get it right ...


I welcome comments, but reserve the right to correct your spelling because I am OCD about it!