Questions vs. Answers

As a teacher and school administrator, I used to think that people needed answers to their questions.  I wouldn’t say I liked it when people would ask me another question to the question that I asked.  One day, I decided to change my attitude because it helped me clarify what I wanted.  Often when we ask a question, we are unclear about something.  If we receive an answer, particularly as a child, we tend to accept it and move on.  No real thinking or learning takes place.

Today I want to encourage everyone, particularly our parents, to ask more questions.  People need more questions than answers.  A simple question such as, “What do you need to know?”  What is missing in terms of your understanding and what you’re asking?  What do you need to know?  Where can you find it?  Though frustrating at first, this helps us be more resourceful and think things through a bit more.

I worked for a large private corporation at one point in my career.  They had more software than you could imagine, and it seemed to be constantly changing.  I worked with a colleague who had a knack for figuring out how to do various things.  His office was right next door, so it was far too easy to poke my head in it and ask him a question.  He was always willing to give me an answer.  But soon I found that the next time I had the same question, I couldn’t remember what he told me and would have to ask him again.

One day, I asked him how he figured out some of this stuff on earth.  His answer shocked me; he said, “Rich, I just figured it out.”  I figured it out, I thought.

Do you mean like struggle with it until you find out how to do it?  You’re kidding; why do that when you can ask someone.  Retention is the answer; you will remember what you have to figure out.

It is helpful to guide others’ thinking by asking a few questions.  Using the software example, you might say, “Let’s look at the software.  In which section of the banner do you think something like that might be?”  That alone would get someone to figure it out without quite as much frustration.  As parents, we feel like we always need to answer our kids, so we deal them out like cards.  But by asking our kids questions, we get them to think a bit more.

Here is what I know:  People need more questions than answers.  Our retention goes way up when we figure things out on our own.  Once I started figuring out the software on my own, I learned it faster and remembered how to do something as well.  I felt much more capable of being pushed to figure it out than by running next door for an answer.

Speaking of asking questions, do you think that maybe a charter school would be better for your child?  Read here for some questions to ask, Parenting on Purpose: Charter Schools & Questions, Pt. 1 – Dr. Rich Patterson (

Todd Polke has a post on Finding the Solutions by Asking the Right Questions here, Finding the Solutions by Asking the Right Questions | Todd Polke

Yours for better parenting,