Paul Harris, a Harvard child psychologist, explains that a child asks about forty-thousand questions between the ages of two and five years old. Why, because you hardwired to ask Why, What If and How. Warren Berger the author of “A More Beautiful Question,” notes:
“As the children’s neurologist Stewart Mostofsky puts it, they have not yet developed mental models to categorize things, so part of what they’re doing when questioning is asking adults to help them with this huge job of categorizing what they experience around them, labeling it, putting it in the proper file drawers of the brain.”
What if you could reignite your question engine? What if instead of responding with an answer you responded with a question? What if you used questions to make better decisions? What would that be worth to you?
Unfortunately, around age five you begin to cut back on the number of questions. Why, there are some explanations one being that schools are not designed to answer questions but to produce workers, Berger refers to the author Seth Godin:
“Our grandfathers and great-grandfather built schools to train people to have a lifetime of productive labor as part of the industrialized economy. And it worked.”
Yes, schools are not preparing you to be an innovative thinker or expert questioner, they want obedient cogs. They want you to follow instructions and memorize facts. Gradually, your question engine is extinguished, and on average it’s never reignited.
I lived the majority of my adult life scared to ask too many questions. Yes, in part because I was never encouraged to ask questions in school and when I did ask too many questions I was told that it was more important to get through the lesson.
Berger understands because of the advancement in technology humanity will need innovators, expert questioners not those whose only skills are the ability to memorize and repeat facts, the researcher John Seely Brown explains:
“The consensus seems to be that this new world demands citizens who are self-learners; who are creative and resourceful; who can adjust and adapt to constant change.”
Berger continues by explaining a possible solution to reinvigorate our child-like curiosity:
One way to start is by looking at how other practiced questioners do it — focusing, in particular, on how they employ fundamental Why, What If, and How questions to solve problems and create change.
Ultimately it comes down to economics. A highly skilled worker is more valuable than a less-skilled worker. Highly skilled workers — focus, in particular, on how they employ fundamental Why, What If, and How questions to solve problems and create change. They will continue to be employed so what will you choose.
Let me be honest with you; if you choose to be a cog in the machine automation will replace you. Does that make a choice easier?