A coyote walked through my backyard one morning last week. Had I not been staring out the window at that particular moment in time, I would not have seen him. But I’ve thought about him a lot since then. Was he feeling out of his element? Was he feeling uncomfortable? Searching for answers or for an escape? There have been reports in the neighborhood of morning sightings of three or four wandering through open spaces. Maybe he was socially distancing himself. Why here? Why now? Perhaps it was simply the easiest path to get from point A to point B to meet his friends.
Look at all the questions in that paragraph. Where do I intersect with those questions? I’m feeling out of my element, uncomfortable, and searching for answers. Do I need more alone time? Do I want to go for a walk? How can I best help someone in need? At this moment in time I seem to spend a good deal of time trying to get from point A to point B, trying to figure out what to do next. And I am dragging my feet as I ping from project to project not really accomplishing anything. Every day just seems to bring more questions, like where did I put that _____ (fill in the blank).
A parent interviewed on the news this morning was having an anxiety attack because she’s not a teacher, or so she thinks. So she was giving her children the opportunity to go online and search for the topics most interesting to them each day. Yay! That’s called research! Don’t we wish that every day every child could spend time searching for the information they most want to learn more about at that moment in time?
There’s nothing more fun than watching 2nd graders doing research, using the fabulous digital tools created specifically for their reading level, learning how to be critical thinkers. They were exuberant about finding new information, about asking questions, about learning. They were learning the importance of asking good questions because really, it’s all about the question! Asking good question will lead you to find answers, the BEST answers, not just ‘good enough’ answers. Have we become complacent using Google? The first results are ‘good enough’? Good enough? Really?
I’m a librarian, so of course I think about the importance of reliable information and I believe in it now more than ever. We need doctors to ask the best questions so they can give us the best diagnosis possible. We need scientists to keep asking the questions to get to the heart of how to address our current crisis. We need them now and we will need them in the future.
So when you’re home showing your children and grandchildren how to find things online, it is the perfect time to teach them how to ask the right question to get to the most reliable information they are looking for at the moment. Don’t let them go for a ‘good enough’ answer. Help them figure out what seems most reliable and why it seems that way. Dig deeper to find out who wrote it, why they wrote it, what their agenda is and compare those facts with what you already know. Never doubt that you are your child’s most important teacher. Teaching them critical thinking skills is the best thing we can do for our world, preparing them to be the next generation’s doctors and scientists and healthcare providers and government officials and on and on and on. Preparing them to be good citizens of the world, caring about our earth, our environment and each other.
Start each day with a new question, something you want to know about and do a bit of digging. Research is fun. Honest! It is easier than ever with so many digital tools at our fingertips. You’ll be amazed at what you learn each day and it will give you topics for more interesting virtual, and eventually in-person, conversations. Whether or not you have children, go to Wonderopolis https://www.wonderopolis.org/ and see the question of the day. This site from the National Center for Families Learning has a new question every day and also keeps all the questions and answers from the past. They are currently on Wonder of the Day #2549. That’s a lot of questions and that’s a lot of great answers! What is yarnstorming? How much does the sky weigh? Can you believe two opposite things?You can subscribe to get the Wonder of the Day in your email each morning. If you are a parent helping your children learn this week, act like you are helping them, but do it for yourself. What a great way to start the day!
Seize this moment to hone your critical thinking skills. What are some things you want to learn today? What’s your question of the day? Where might you find the best answers, not just a solution that is good enough because you don’t have time to look any further. Take a moment to do some digging and soon it will be three hours later. That’s the beauty of research. It draws you in further and further until you forget what you were looking for in the first place! Remember, it’s still all about the question, and that’s how we get from point A to point B.