Earlier this year, I made a simple request to a group of 25 supply chain executives: go online to a discussion forum I had created and post a question about a supply chain topic you would like to get feedback and ideas about from your peers. The question could be about a project or initiative they were working on, or about any industry topic that interested them. I gave them thirty days to ask one question, and as an incentive, if everybody in the group asked a question, I would randomly select a member and donate $100 to a charity of their choice. I sent an email reminder every week, and at the end of the month, to my great surprise and disappointment, only two people had asked a question.
The easiest explanation is that these are very busy supply chain executives with no time to spare, so my request just fell through the cracks or never made it to the top of their priority list.
Or maybe they didn’t know how to post a question on a discussion forum or felt uncomfortable using an online tool.
But I came across an article recently that offers another possible explanation:asking questions is a skill that some (perhaps many) people lack.
“When students know how to ask their own questions, they take greater ownership of their learning, deepen comprehension, and make new connections and discoveries on their own,” write Dan Rothstein and Luz Santana in Teaching Students to Ask Their Own Questions. “However, this skill is rarely, if ever, deliberately taught to students from kindergarten through high school[emphasis mine]. Typically, questions are seen as the province of teachers, who spend years figuring out how to craft questions and fine-tune them to stimulate students’ curiosity or engage them more effectively. We have found that teaching students to ask their own questions can accomplish these same goals while teaching them a critical lifelong skill.”