Beta: I dictated this on my walk this morning.
Recently, I asked a room full of legislators if they can go back in time with me. I asked them to go back to high school and think about the following question: if you had access to the teachers addition of all of your content area books, how many of you would have gotten an A? Most of the hands went up.
As a follow up, I asked them to flash forward to the late 80s, early 90s. I asked: if we were sitting together back then, and, I asked can you be successful if you can connect to any idea, any resource, and any person, at any time, and anywhere, would you be successful? Most raised their hands in affirmation.
Here we are at a time and place in history where we can connect any idea, any person, and any resource, at anytime, and anywhere. What stops is now from being successful? The room felt uncomfortably quiet.
I proposed a reason. I argued that the goal for schooling then and now still focuses on answering the question defined by others who already know the answers.
How we demonstrate success is in one’s ability to show a command of answering those questions correctly in a timely matter.
What is missing here is the power of essential questioning. We forgot, along the way, to teach people to ask better questions. So, who cares if we can connect anywhere, anytime, with any idea, any resource, and with anybody if we don’t know what questions to ask.
Knowing the answer does not have the same value add that it once did. Now, the ability to ask a better, more essential question, is the key to unlock the potential of what tomorrow needs to look like.
I saw an interview with David Bowie in 1993 where he talks about his excitement towards the Internet and what it means to people who want to change things — for good and bad. He said he’s excited about how anyone will be able to create anything and share it with anyone else at anytime and anywhere. He challenged the interviewer to think about that. The interviewer looked confused and even doubtful. David Bowie gleamed with excitement for the possibilities and what that really means to everything. David Bowie saw new opportunities to new questions.
Even though were 15, scratch that, 16 years into the 21st-century, can you think about the power we can generate if we teach people to ask better questions?
The opportunity has never been greater then it is today, the day after the death of David Bowie, to hear his words, absorb them deeply, and figure out ways to leverage this connectivity to make things better.
Thanks to Mark Nichols and Rosa for their brains.