Asking the right question

December 28, 2011

I was driving down a country road one fine fall afternoon and came upon an amazing sight. There was a farmer, or a guy that looked like a farmer, surrounded by a half-dozen piglets.  He was holding one of the piggies up to an apple hanging from the tree.  As the pig finished eating the apple, the farmer put it down and picked up another pig.  I stopped, not believing my eyes.

Finally I got out of my car and approached this scene being repeated over and over in front of me.  After being certain my eyes were not deceiving me, I said, “Wouldn’t it be quicker to knock the apples out of the tree and let them eat of the ground?”

He stared at me in am mixture of annoyance and confusion and said, “What’s time to a pig.”

Okay, I didn’t really see that happening.  But it’s such a great segue to a brief conversation about questions, and answers.  As parents there are questions that stay of the surface and those that go to the heart.  I’m sure you know plenty of each, questions like, “How was school today?”  “Was Church fun?”

Those are not the right questions.  But I am sure you already know that.

You might go deep with, “Did you try to make friends with that boy everyone picks on?”   “What can we do differently based on what you learned?”  “Who should we be praying for?”  Now, those are the right kind of questions.

“What will you do differently because of what you learned today?   “How can we as a family…”  Are the kind of questions that not only explore what was really learned, but also delve into areas of potential growth.

To get past questions about time-keeping pigs, and get to the heart of why you might hand-feed a pig, our questions must relate to responding to the stimulus.  What are you going to do with the information you learned.  How does it make you feel, think and act.  information can be regurgitated forever without results or impact.  But doing something with the lesson knocks the apples right out of the tree.

I could finish this post with the question, ‘So, did I teach you anything today?”  But a better question would be…. No I won’t tell you.

You tell me.


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