qing wen (ramblings on questions)

"Qing wen" is a polite way to begin questions in Chinese, basically meaning, "May I please ask a question?"

I want to become better at asking questions.  I am remarkably bad at it, and I think that it is time to begin consciously working on it.  My younger brother Ib asks questions about everything.  He is a constant source of why and what if and how come and so forth.  So I'm trying...

Riding Greyhound across the US gave me some fun opportunities to ask questions.  One of the people who I sat next to on the way from Indy to Dallas had worked as a Navy cryptologist.  "You probably don't even know what a cryptologist is," he grunted. 

We had a great conversation.  I kept trying to think of more questions to ask him every time his stories seemed to be winding down (after all, the man knew Spanish and Russian, I think; he wanted to own a restaurant, and was on his way to hopefully get a job with a trucking company, and it was more interesting than staring out the window!) and it was quite a lot of fun. 

Then I ended up sitting next to an older woman on my last bus jaunt.  We talked for a while; I don't think there were any great questions that I asked, but I now know more of what she thought about living in South Dakota and what she knows now that she wishes she had known when she was 21 (how to take care of babies and how to cook.)

As I read through my books in preparation for getting my teaching certificate, I think of questions that I wish I had asked in China.  There were a few people at English corner who spoke very good English, and I want to know how and why their English was so good.  What motivated them?  How did they learn?

One night in China a bunch of us were sitting around outside a restaurant waiting for tables to become available.  To alleviate boredom (yes, people do get bored in China!) we began coming up with questions to ask each other.  I think that Kent took the prize that night for the best question asked:  If you had to go into a field totally unrelated to what you're in now, what would you choose?  It was a simple enough question, but it made everyone think and it exposed pieces of all of us that hadn't been seen before. 


How do you cultivate inquiry?

What are some of the best questions you have ever asked or been asked?


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