Sunday, June 28, 2009

Value of Questions

No… this post is not about the question of values, just in case you are reading this post sleepy-eyed, but about the value of questions for knowledge creation.

As I was scrolling through the earlier posts in this and other blogs of mine, it dawned upon me that nothing springs my brain into an active mode better than an interesting question. Many of my blog posts were actually triggered by some thought-provoking question, posed online or offline.
...questions are the engine, the driving force behind thinking.
- Linda Elder and Richard Paul, The Foundation for Critical Thinking

I think question-answer forums and interviews are the two most effective tools for capturing tacit knowledge (or “knowledge harvesting”, if you like).

To give you an example, I tried so many times to find out which of the two expressions is correct - "a book titled..." or "a book entitled...", but never found an answer. I finally got the answer in a discussion board on the Internet. No book will give you this information - you can get it only in a question-answer format.

Another point worth noting here is that it is the way a question is framed, and not just the intention of the question, that determines whether it will get your neurons firing and elicit a good answer.

If, for example, someone asks you what (not who) is dearest to you, chances are that you will not be able to decide. But if the same question is posed as “What would you grab, if you could, if your house was on fire?”, most people would be able to give an exact answer.

Apin Talisayon, an online friend from the Philippines, has written an excellent post on the value of questions.

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