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Asking the Right Questions: The Best of My Blog, Organized by Question

By Dave Stuart Jr.

Those who wish to succeed must ask the right preliminary questions.

–Artistotle, Metaphysics, Book II, as cited by CS Lewis in Miracles

Teaching and learning in the USA suffers from murkiness of thought. We aren't clear on some very, very basic things, and this is often because we don't ask the right questions at the start. Instead of asking “How do I keep my students under control?” or “What's a fun activity for the first day of school,” we're 1,000 times better off asking three preliminary questions:

  • What are schools for?
  • What matters most in making schools great?
  • What stands in our way?

Below, you'll find links to the many attempts I've made so far on this blog in answering parts of these questions. Stay tuned (for years) for unified answers; I'm in this for the long haul.

What are schools for?

The fact that we need to ask this question, and constantly bring ourselves back to it, is perhaps the greatest obstacle that faces American educators.

What matters most in making schools great?

Let's look at this from both internal and external angles.

Teacher motivation and mindset: the inner work of teaching

When teachers lack the skill of managing their motivation and mindset, they become an attrition statistic. It's too challenging to stick to this work — in a meaningful, improving way — for the length of time it takes to get pretty good at it, unless you can remember a few things.

Lessons, curriculum, classrooms, and co-workers: the external work of teaching

The inner work matters, but only if we do the inner work while pouring sweat and diligence into the stuff we're paid for: teaching, planning, etc.

What stands in our way?

Once we clarify what schools are for and then agree on what methods best achieve those purposes

2 Responses to Asking the Right Questions: The Best of My Blog, Organized by Question

  1. Lynsay April 10, 2016 at 4:46 pm #

    Dave! Love the Greatest Hits list. What’s interesting here is that the synthesis into three neat big questions happened over time. You didn’t wait to start writing until you had this macro structure and an answer to everything. If you had, you wouldn’t have started at all.

    Also, your Jedi Mind Tricks post belongs on this list, in the Inner Work section. I pull it up about three times a year whenever I need an explicit command that my value as a person does not rest on my job performance.

    • davestuartjr April 11, 2016 at 8:56 pm #

      Lynsay, what I love is that you’ve stayed so engaged over the years that you actually know and see what the process has been like for me. There was no magical road map — just one post, one mini-question, one bit at a time. I’m more excited about these questions than ever — that is for sure.

      And yes — I’m adding that now!

      *Thank you* Lynsay.

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