These days, I consider it pure joy when my children ask questions, especially questions that stump me. Like when will the pandemic end? Or why do we still have school, even homeschooling the week before Christmas. Or this one that warmed my heart, why do we give presents on Christmas Day? My daughter thinks it’s because the wise men gave baby Jesus presents, silver, gold and oil she thinks. My son wants to know when Christmas will begin so he can start to open the Christmas presents he has received from our family friends. My children’s questions even around things like Christmas or the pandemic reminds me once more, about the significance of questioning in children.
We all know the value of questioning in the classroom, but what about at home. How might we foster the joy of questioning in our households and with everyday activities? How might we encourage questions to naturally arise in our children? Or how might we train our children to ask questions in the way we potty train them? How can we help our children use their questions to seek knowledge, explain things, or understand a phenomenon? How can we simply foster opportunities for our children to ask more beautiful questions, including questions of things they want to know, things they are curious about or what they themselves see as important to discuss, whether it’s Christmas or a pandemic? I was inspired by this keep and the need to continue to work to hone my children’s questioning abilities after seeing a 1995 book in my collection, of 1001 Enuani (an Igbo dialect of Nigeria) proverbs during a cleanup around my home. I scrolled through the pages and landed on proverb 732, my all time favorite proverb in this book and one I have used in a speech to Bucknell undergraduate students about the significance of questions back in my grad school years.
I forgot about this speech until I wrote the prior post on why we all need to keep knowing our why. If you recall for me, my why centers around being a professional questionologist in every sense of the profession. I am inspired by my mentor whose motto in grad school was that we ‘learn to question the questions.’ Also Warren Berger’s book on the need for ‘more beautiful questions.’The primer though for me is proverb 732. It has been my guiding light since grad school and one that I hope to pass down to my children. It simply states: Onye ajuju, aya e-fu uzo: He who asks questions, never misses his way. Keep asking questions my children!