In every area of my life, I am bombarded with “Why?”
My five-year old loves to ask why and then say no. My two-year old loves to ask why, over and over and over again. She doesn’t listen for an answer, but simply asks why again.
Why is Puff (the dragon) sad?
Why is Mia grumpy?
Why is the baby sad?
Why, why, why…?
At school, students want to know why. And teachers. And that’s great because asking why demonstrates critical thought. It demonstrates a lack of blind compliance. It demonstrates autonomy. And that is what I want of my children, of my students and of my colleagues.
And yet, I am exhausted. Sometimes, I don’t want to have to answer why for every single detail. Sometimes, I don’t want to have to explain, especially when the information is readily available. Sometimes, I want blind trust and faith.
As a poet and an English teacher, I have spent my life teaching “show don’t tell.” And yet, I find myself in a lot of telling situations. And we all know, when someone “tells” others don’t listen.
So, I am flipping the why. I am no longer telling. I am asking.
Why do you think you can’t do that?
Why is Puff sad?
Why do we need to…?
Last Thursday, I had to keep a lot of our students out of an area in which they wanted to go. And when each of them asked why, I asked why back. And they answered. Because when they reach within, they know why – we all do. We had great conversations; my why generated connection and it built relationships. Plus, I had a lot more fun and a lot more company than if I had stood there and told each student why individually.
I urge all educators to flip the why. Involve the questioners and help them to find their own answers. Ask them to “show” you why. It leads to greater acceptance and less questions later. It supports 21st Century Skills. And it builds positive relationships. So rather than answer why, ask why.
And Madison can tell me why Puff is sad…even if she does forget again five minutes later.