When Isidore Rabi was a child, his mother did not ask him, “What did you learn in school today?” like the other mothers in Brooklyn asked their children. Instead she asked him, “Did you ask a good question today?” Later in life, after winning the Nobel prize in physics, Dr. Rabi said that it was because his mother encouraged questioning that he became a scientist.
Children are curious by nature. Between the ages of 2 and 5, they ask 40,000 questions, according to Warren Berger, author of “A More Beautiful Question.” With today’s technology, finding answers to factual questions is easy. When my own children don’t know something, the first thing they want to try is asking Siri. As we all know, Siri is great at telling you who the first President of the United States was or who won the Super Bowl, but terrible at answering the deep, reflective questions that lead to solving real problems. Those are the types of questions that Berger calls “more beautiful,” which we actively encourage here at CHA.
I’d like to think that Dr. Rabi would be impressed with our science program, which is inquiry-based from kindergarten all the way through 8th grade. When students enter the science lab, they explore the answers to scientific questions using hands-on methods and materials. In all of our classrooms, students are given the opportunity to follow their natural curiosity, to ask and search for the answers to questions that cannot be answered by a machine, such as “How does racism in To Kill A Mockingbird connect to what you know about the Civil War?” or “What does this week’s Torah portion mean to me?”
Making school a safe space for children to ask questions is critical to our mission of preparing students for high school, college, and beyond. When your child comes home from school today, what question will you ask?
To read more about “beautiful questions,” check out this post on Mind/Shift.