“I want to ask one good question.”
That’s all? I can ask one good question now. That’s what I thought when I heard my colleague share her intellectual goal for the new school year. I had no idea how difficult it would be to ask my students one good question, a question that wasn’t leading, that didn’t tip my hand or reveal my beliefs, that didn’t force students to defend a single position, nor one that allowed them to respond solely with anecdote and opinion. In the fall of 2003, I was working with new peers in the second year of Baccalaureate School for Global Education in Queens, NY. This was the year that would challenge my teaching forever.
Over ten years later, I was awarded an Eisenhower Fellowship to study teaching and learning in Finland and New Zealand. En route to New Zealand, I began reading Timperley & Parr’s Weaving Evidence, Inquiry, and Standards to Build Better Schools. The case studies in that text helped me to see the power of engaging our adult learners in education, and to realize that I wasn’t doing that in my educational leadership. As soon as I landed in Auckland, we went to a site visit at Stonefields School and there, I saw this adult inquiry in practice for the first time. Throughout my time in New Zealand, I took pictures of inquiry boards– white boards in staff rooms with questions and wonderings on them. My Kiwi colleagues thought it bizarre, but I loved seeing their inquiry in action. It led me to understand how, in my leadership, we had skipped over the adult as inquirer and attempted to train adults who had not done their own inquiry, to lead that practice with our students. What would it look like if our adult selves engaged in regular inquiry and could model and teach inquiry-based learning from that perspective?
Years later, I’m still challenging myself to ask one good question. My work in international education has changed, but the need for good questions remains. In this blog I will be exploring international education and access for all students through multiple lenses, but all with the same question: In what ways do our investments in education reveal our beliefs about the next generation’s role in the world?
Spoiler alert: I am completely biased. My education career is built on ways that we are increasing access and opportunity for all students to connect with the world outside of their local neighborhood: multilingualism, cross-cultural and intercultural competencies, international perspectives, peace-building, youth action and agency, socio-economic diversity. I look forward to having my assumptions challenged and learning innovative ways that different countries, communities, and schools are answering this question.