TED Talk: How To Ask Good Questions

Why ask questions? Sometimes being able to ask a good question is more important than finding a good answer.

If the video above does not work, then try How To Ask Good Questions: David Stork at TEDxStanleyPark

What makes a question the best?

  • Clearly stated and unambiguous
  • There must be a solution
  • Solution method exists
  • Improved solution methods will likely be useful
  • Extremal
  • Goes to hear of issue
  • The “right” level
  • Leads to new questions

General techniques

  • Isolate components
  • Consider all attributes and combinations of attributes
  • Explore missing aspects
  • Consider extereme cases
  • How does X depend on Y?
  • How to measure?
  • Transisitions from state 1 to state 2
  • Invert things
  • Who, what, where, why, when?
  • Analogies
  • Different “languages” (math, code)
  • Different disciplines

Congressional Character

I was looking for a quote on why public education is important to democracy when I ran across this in Quotes on the Importance of Voting.

Now more than ever the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. — James Garfield, “A Century of Congress” published in Atlantic, July 1877.

Some others:

The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers. — Thomas Jefferson

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power. — Abraham Lincoln

The one I sought:

Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.  — Thomas Jefferson

Changing Education Paradigms

Sir Ken Robinson, who has the great TED talk on how education kills creativity, Schools Kill Creativity, has a new one. A key concept is divergent thinking, an essential capacity of creativity, is the ability to see multiple answers or approaches. Education appears to kill off divergent thinking. Creativity is important to problem solving.

I had not considered the big risk for public education is the degree is not a guarantee of a good job. Certainly, people warned me my degree was useless for getting a job in the bachelor’s level, so I’d planned on getting a Master’s or even Ph.D. However, even those were no guarantee. This probably ties in with Anya Kamenetz’s idea maybe the better approach is to provide the content openly and turn education into services to help students master the content. I would agree education has aligned itself into an industrial production of graduates with increasing standardization.

How the current model is bad for kids and various things would solve it has been the discussion a parent and educator friends of the parent have discussed since I was at least in high school and all through college. Montessori and charter schools were all predicted to break public education yet it still stands. DIY Y is the latest. Why do they still stand? Because while experts know public education is not sustainable and the general public would agree, they rely heavily on politicians to make their decisions. It is easier to campaign about fixing education than it is to correct any of the systemic issues. My prediction is until public higher education tuition rises so high about 50% of potential college students cannot afford to attend even with available scholarships, things will not change much.

Ken’s stance on ADHD is eerily similar to the ideas presented in The Edison Gene.