It was just a quick 3-sentence e-mail from another teacher, months after the fact, but having my effort noticed, appreciated even - is SUCH a big deal and makes me feel so good. I think that’s why I try so hard to notice when my students put in effort, even when the outcomes aren’t there… Maybe if you’re reading this, take a moment to notice someone. Maybe they’ve been feeling invisible lately and you’ll totally pick them up? :)
So, in the wake of reading this terrifying shit, Postcard and I started chatting, as you do, about the zombie apocalypse. Here are some things Postcard and I enjoy: zombie media, common sense, and YELLING ABOUT STUFF. Thus, for your reading pleasure, please enjoy our simple twenty-step guide to NOT DYING in the unlikely event that a zombie apocalypse ravages humanity:
On a recent Friday morning, a classroom of teenagers at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School broke up into small groups and spent an hour not answering questions about Albert Camus’s “The Plague.” It wasn’t that the students were shy, or bored, or that they hadn’t done the reading. They were following instructions: Ask as many questions as they could, and answer none of them.
The kids wrote in rapid fire on sheets of butcher paper. “Why is everyone acting normal when people are dropping dead?” “Are the doctors aware of this great danger?” “Is there any benefit from the plague? Will it help anyone change or grow?” By the end of the exercise, the class had generated more than 100 questions and exactly zero answers.
In the back of the classroom, Dan Rothstein watched approvingly, taking notes. Though the kids didn’t know it, Rothstein was the one responsible for the unusual way they were spending their class time.
Rothstein is the cofounder of the Right Question Institute, a Cambridge-based nonprofit that exists to promote an idea he’s been nursing for more than a decade—that asking good questions is a life skill far more important than we realize. Rothstein, who has a doctorate in education and social policy from Harvard, believes that learning how to ask questions should be considered as critical as learning how to read, write, and do basic math. He thinks the ability to use questions strategically can make people smarter and better at their jobs, and give them more control when dealing with powerful bureaucracies, doctors, and elected officials.
“It’s not deliberately taught because it seems to be a natural part of speech that doesn’t require much work,” Rothstein says. “It’s assumed that anyone can do it.”