- “Wait, what?” In this question, Ryan stresses the importance of inquiry before advocacy. He explains that it’s important to understand an idea before you choose to advocate for it or against it. The “wait” part of the question “Wait, what?” serves as a reminder for us to slow down to make sure understanding sinks in. As a community, what are some ways that we can nurture this type of thinking at Park?
- The second question is “I wonder.” There are two paths we can take with this question. “I wonder why” is the beginning of question that sparks curiosity about the world around us, and “I wonder if” can be a way to start thinking about how we can improve the world around us. The Cambridge Science Festival’s Curiosity Challenge that our Park students participated in last month is a great example of these questions. Please take a moment and share with your Park colleagues in the comments below opportunities where you have encouraged students to ask “I wonder why” and “I wonder if.”
- The third question starts with “Couldn’t we at least…?” When we’re feeling stuck, we can use this question to help us get unstuck. When we’re not sure where we will end up, this question can help us begin. When implementing a new innovation or trying something new in our teaching practice, this can be our launching point.
- The fourth question we must ask ourselves and encourage our students to ask themselves is “How can I help?” Ryan emphasizes the importance of being careful about how we offer help, because “how we help matters as much as that we do help.” He explains that when “you ask “how” you can help, you are asking, with humility, for direction. And you are recognizing that others are experts in their own lives and that they will likely help you as much as you help them.”
- The fifth and final of Ryan’s questions is “What truly matters?” We can use this question personally: “What truly matter to me?” We can also use this question as an institution: “What truly matters to Park?” This question can help us focus and get to the heart of the matter. This question reminds us to reflect on Park’s mission and values.
You can watch Dean James Ryan deliver the “5 Essential Questions in Life” from his 2016 HGSE Commencement Speech below:
To watch the entire Commencement Speech, click here.
To read the speech, click here.