Questions. Questions. Questions.
Here's one for you: What (if anything) have Harvard MBA graduates contributed to the world?
Answer: At least one of them has made a very important contribution. He's written a list of 260 questions for kids. Questions for kids to ask each other. Questions for kids to ask parents. Questions for parents to ask kids!
In true MBA-fashion, Gregory Stock has turned the simple list into a paperback book, "The Kid's Book of Questions," which sells for $4.95 and from which he could conceivably get rich.
Stock, however, deserves to be rich. He's brilliant. He's come up with questions that children actually find stimulating. Now how easy is that to do? Ask any adult who has ever attempted it. (We tend to ask questions like, "What happened at school today?" or "What did you eat for lunch?" To which we get answers like, "Nothing" and "Mumble, mumble, It was gross.")
In the introduction to his book Stock tells his readers, "Most of the questions you get asked in school have right or wrong answers. The questions in this book have no correct answers - only honest ones, and only you know how honest you are being. Don't respond the way you think others want you to; respond the way you really feel."
He goes on to say that a big part of growing up is learning to answer the really hard questions and to trust your own judgment.
The true test of a good query is if it prompts an interesting reply, a reply that helps the questioner get to know the respondent a bit better. At Bonneville Elementary School, Salt Lake District, in Joan Waterworth's second grade class, Stock's questions passed the test. So did the students. They answered honestly. Here's what they had to say:
Question #68: Would you eat a worm sandwich if doing so meant that you could appear next week on your favorite TV show?
This question occasioned much discussion between Kirsti Vogler and her friends. Finally she decided, IF the show were "Double Dare" and IF she could be assured of winning some prizes, then yes, she'd eat a worm sandwich, but only "IF the worms are cooked."
Question #100: If an older kid hit you, stole something of yours, and then told you he'd hurt you if you told on him, would you tell anyone? If so, who?
Brian Maxwell says, "I'd tell my Dad. He has a sword."
Question #101: Are you more likely to hold back your tears when you feel like crying or to hold back your laughter when you see something funny? Why?
Brian had a thoughtful answer. He pondered and squirmed _ this question is loaded with emotion for a second grader - while saying, "Well, I do both. I probably hold back laughter more, because it's easier to hold back laughter. But I try harder to hold back tears because if I cried I'd be probably be embarrassed."
Question #195: What are the stupidest rules your parents have about what you can't or must do?
Elissa Wiscomb says the rule that she has to take out the garbage every Saturday and Monday is the worst thing her parents have ever come up with. "I hate to take out the garbage," she says. But every Saturday and Monday she has to do it? "Yes. Except on Mondays. Then my Dad takes it out for me because he knows I hate to do it."
Question #196: If for one day you could do absolutely anything you want and not get caught or punished, what would you do?
Peter Shirts would spend the day "digging a secret passage into my closet. Then the next time my mom asked me to do my homework, I could disappear."
Question #202: If a friend threw a party and didn't invite you what would you do?
Taylor Turner had to think hard, rolling his eyes skyward, about his answers to other questions. But not this one. He answers the simple, direct question with a simple, direct question of his own. "I would ask him, `Why didn't you invite me to your party?' " he says.