always the more beautiful answer, who asks a more beautiful question . . . e. e. cummings
I picked the theme of "renewal" for a series of writing
retreats this year. What I quickly discovered is that it wasn't easy to find
readings connected to the topic. As I searched with the usual tools in the usual
places, most of what came up was religious -- which makes sense, because people
who are soul weary are often looking for spiritual renewal. But I didn't think
starting out our revision and response sessions with "Let us pray" would go
over well at these secular writing retreats. The books that weren't religious
often focused on time management or had gimmicky leadership tips.
I was close to giving up when I stumbled on A More Beautiful
Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas by Warren Berger.
The book includes the sobering finding of researchers that children are taught
to squelch their natural tendency to ask profound and creative questions at an early
age (and schools are a big part of that). A More Beautiful Question looks at
case studies from many fields of visionaries who broke
through with ideas that upended the status quo by asking better questions.
These questions are sometimes jolting, sometimes elegant, but always at their
heart renewing, because they push the questioner to look harder and deeper at
an issue vexing everyone in their field. As I read the book, I realized stress is nothing more than
the questions we pester ourselves with continually. These "stress" questions
may vary, but just contemplating the answers is a dull scrape to the spirit we
give ourselves again and again: How can I quit this
job I hate and still pay the mortgage? How much worse is my
mom's Alzheimer's going to get? What can I do to get
the kids' test scores up? You're going to ask yourself questions all day long - it's
what humans do. So why not make them beautiful? If you're looking for renewal,
stress reduction, balance, or a peaceful heart this summer (whatever you want
to call it), maybe it begins with a bold, specific, and joyful question. A more
beautiful question is one you can ask yourself about work every day that makes
you want to jump out of bed and start thinking. What's the most joyful
thing that will happen in my class this morning? How will my students
take charge of their learning today? Who supports my
learning and growth most in the school, and how can I reciprocate and support
I'm working on my big beautiful question for the school year
right now. What might yours be?
This week we look at student writers. Plus more as always -- enjoy!
Founder, Choice Literacy
Free for All
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