Why? The Most Critical Question of All? #IMMOOC


Why flickr photo by Ksayer1 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

A great list of questions for the innovative educator from George Couros (The Innovator’s Mindset, 2015), no doubt:

  • Would I want to be a learner in my own classroom?
  • What is best for this student?
  • What is this student’s passion?
  • What are some of the ways we an create a true learning community?
  • How did this work for our students?

But for me, and this is a recent trend, is asking why. Why would I want to be a students in this classroom? Why is this best for my students? Why is the student passionate about ____? Why did this work for the students?

By asking why, I am helping determine a purpose. Perhaps I’m even questioning what I perceive as the purpose.

By asking why, I am being reflective from the start. Reflection doesn’t need to happen only as a summative task. It should happen throughout the process.

By asking why, I am establishing a very different culture in my classroom. What, where, and how questions often lead to surface responses. But by asking why, the entire learning community can begin to dig deeper into our own learning, our own practice, our own sense of being and doing.

Thankfully, I’m still asking about my own why even after 19 years of teaching. And still I don’t have an answer and hope that I never do. My why might become clearer or it might change completely.

People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

Simon Sinek (TEDxPuget Sound, 2009)

So what’s your why or do you not know yet? Why is your why your why? Why haven’t you figured out your why?

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4 thoughts on “Why? The Most Critical Question of All? #IMMOOC

  1. To generate uncertainty, create imbalance, question what is claimed… My father’s bookplate, engraved for him by his father, said, “The beginning of doubt is the beginning of wisdom.” I saw that motto, with it’s accompanying image of a lone figure in the midst of a grove of trees, looking up from a book to wonder, every time I took out a volume from his library.

  2. I really like Simon Sinek’s message of starting with the Why. I’d always start with the Why with my students. It’s something that is so simple, yet overlooked by so many. If you want buy-in from students, you have to explain the Why. If you can’t articulate the Why, you need to question what you are doing with your students in the first place.

  3. I earned my first middle school mathematics job in Houston by utilizing “why” as the centerpiece to the same lesson I taught. My new favorite adjective in education is “disruptive,” and reflecting on this word and how “why” can be critical to helping students THINK.

    Thanks for a great read.

  4. Well said! I have long been a fan of Simon Sinek, and firmly believe that one question is so important. From how it drives our own learning, but even in response to a student’s answer (my routine response is “why do you think so? give me your evidence”) It helps to make the thinking deeper.

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