Why is the sky blue? Why do Indian gods have so many arms? Why does blood become a scab? I was that child who always asked WHY! Curiosity and me have lived within one another since I learned the word why.
I must have driven my folks potty with all the why questions, though they mostly accommodated my persistent questioning of the world and my surroundings.
As I left toddler-dom and ventured into primary school, my questions became more economically and politically charged; Why do people treat us differently because of our brown skin colour? Why do we not have as much money as other people at my school? Why do people at school call me bad names?
Some of these questions can't be fully answered till this day.
Perhaps it was no surprise that after University I would fall into a career that called upon my curiosity and questioning skills. I trained and became a professional Recruiter and Headhunter, and stayed in this line of work for over 20 years.
I've done my fair share of interviewing candidates and clients. Figuring out career pathways, gaps in CV's motivations behind leaving and joining certain companies, as well as detective work in 'reading between the lines', deciphering non-verbals and following 'signals' even when unspoken.
In fact over my 20 year recruiting career, I'm conservatively guessing I've interviewed no less than 10,000 candidates, not including the tens of thousands of hours I’ve spent questioning and pitching to clients to win business. That’s a lot of hours spent questioning and drilling down the details that matter.
Being inquisitive, curious and analytically minded is part of my makeup. I tend to assess narratives across the spectrum, to challenge my own in-built cognitive bias. I'm fully aware I have beliefs and subconscious bias's that could have me believe my own BS.
Hence my 'work to self' has always been to critically challenge my own assumptions. Speaking of assumptions, we were trained early on in our recruitment career to NEVER MAKE ASSUMPTIONS! Many a deals fell through on the back of a recruiter having made an assumption.
Now that I'm a mum, I've noticed the same questioning stance comes through in my parenting. I'm mostly curious to see how my kids land up where they land up. I love following the golden thread of enquiry with them and seeing where we end up. By simply asking them why through a series of questions, we end up in the most imaginative of solutions, mythical places and anecdotes.
CRITICAL THINKING AT SCHOOL
Not all schools encourage critical thinking skills amongst children. Particularly those that rely on rote-learning as a methodology. This creates a huge disadvantage for our kids in my opinion. After all, critical thinking has to be .....well.... as critical as learning Maths and English surely!
If our kids can't think critically, how will they solve problems? how will they think independently? how will they challenge wrongs in their life or workplace? How will they even know a ‘wrong’ is a ‘wrong’? How will they challenge their own assumptions and spot gaps in their know-how? How will they fix the hole in their tent in the pouring rain?
Critical thinking requires going down the rabbit-hole. So get them to pack their bags and go on an adventure of discovery!
KIDS & THE FUTURE
Have you ever paused to think what the workplace may look like when your kids enter working-age? Our kids will grow up having robots as their colleagues, and managing hybrid human/robot teams. Until such time that a robot can be programmed to think critically or creatively, us humans have the upper-hand over our mechanical-friends.
I’ve been following the Socratic questioning method for over a decade now. And have delved deeper into the philosophy during my parenting journey. Socratic thinking is based upon the critical line of enquiry popularised by the great philosopher Socrates. Socrates was often credited as being the founder of western philosophy. And with Plato and Aristotle counted as his students, we could all learn a thing or two about his critically-acclaimed noggin.
THE SOCRATIC QUESTIONING TECHNIQUE
I always explain the Socratic questioning method to my kids with the analogy of an onion, and ask them to 'peel another layer'. So they end up remaining curious, asking more questions, and hunt for more clues.
The Socratic approach to critical questioning, follows a thoughtful line of dialogue and questioning. Basically put, it requires not stopping at the shallow-end of questioning. Keep going and delve deeper.
SOCRATIC QUESTIONS FOR KIDS
When you adapt Socratic questions for kids, the idea is to allow them to examine questions logically and test if their ideas are watertight. It’s a great way for them to spot their own blindspots.
In the end, this type of structure promotes independent thinking, and gives our kiddos ownership of their ideas. It also doesn't let them off the hook easily by 'accepting' what is told to them, without question. This higher-level thinking gets them debating, discussing, evaluating and assessing what is coming out of their own mouth and others.
7 SOCRATIC QUESTION TYPES
Socratic questions can be grouped broadly under 7 pillars:
Questions about the initial issue
If you take your kids through questions that clarify, question, challenge assumptions, look for evidence, question the original source, delve into consequences (pros/cons) and challenge who’s 'lens' is being used…….. then your little one (and you), will likely end up in an unlikely place.
Now wouldn't that be a great skill to have in a world full of propaganda, agendas, false news and political narratives?
150 SOCRATIC QUESTIONS FOR KIDS
If you want to raise gritty kids, I encourage you to introduce Socratic questioning techniques at the dinner table and beyond. To help you, we’ve put together 151 popular Socratic questions you can use with your kids……..and yourself!
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