From my own education experience in the United States, professional work experience, and journey to Guatemala, I have developed the question of why has the education system stayed stagnant in its way of providing a good education for children of different backgrounds, races, and learning styles? It has also challenged me to contemplate how can we develop the education system so that it accommodates these challenges? Berger explains that the beautiful question is something not easily answered, yet still tangible. He states that a beautiful question is “the kind of Why, What If, and How questions that can’t be answered with simple facts-generally tend to encourage creative thinking more than closed yes-or-no questions”(18). My question follows this outline due to its inability to be easily answered. In my adaptive leadership class, we’ve developed an understanding of the difference between technical problems and adaptive challenges which I think perfectly encaptures what Berger is trying to accomplish. While technical problems can be easily fixed with simple systematic answers, adaptive challenges require more elongated creative thinking. As I’ve mentioned in my beautiful question the education system has stayed the same for generations and continues to have the same problems that the school system has applied simple fixes to. Nothing has developed because they are diagnosing the problem as technical, not adaptive. Working within a school last year during my gap year I was able to see those technical fixes applied. To combat the problem of children not comprehending teachers would do things like assign more homework or offer tutoring after school, though, what they didn’t understand was that the answer was not that simple. Working with fourth and fifth graders on not only school work, but also social-emotional skills I was able to get a deeper sense of not only their struggle with understanding material but also how that connected to their home life. Working with all minority children, most were not very well off, having displacement issues, and some had language barriers all which distracted them further from their learning. This is the challenge I am trying to answer with my question. During my trip to Guatemala, I saw how further cognitive thinking could help answer it. Visiting an educational nonprofit called Common Hope we learned that they not only provided fun education facilities for the students but also supported home life such as health care and living units. They understood that education is not just about the classroom but each individual students circumstance.
The basic foundation for answering this question is understanding. Many people do not understand how it feels to struggle with comprehension or having outside distractions such as finances and generational racial barriers affect their performance in school. During one of the rotations in class, Professor Stamant talked about a reporter’s decision to be forcibly fed so that she could have a better understanding of what it was like. This was an extreme example of someone going to large lengths in order to understand in the best way possible. It would be hard to understand exactly what it feels like to have a different learning style or home troubles like the reporter’s option to be force-fed, but that’s all apart of the process. Drafting and redrafting the question being asked, as we talked about with Dr. Sessions. In conclusion to our discussion on the NPR podcast by Rev. James Cone about his opinions on religion for not just privileged white people but also underprivileged black people we discussed the importance of revision. Later in his podcast, he realized his unconscious disclusion of other minorities, leading him to revise his conclusion to be more inclusive. Overall, our capacity to create and answer beautiful questions is a constant process that will always call for creative thinking, further understanding, and lastly revision.
Berger, Warren. A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough
Ideas. New York: Bloomsbury, 2014.