My friend Micah Sifry was playing with an idea this Spring. As a journalist, he was frustrated with the fact that his colleagues and people in general were failing to ask good questions of our leaders and other public figures. Not one to admire a problem for long, Micah created The Good Question Project.
Here’s what the Project is about:
What is a good question?
A good question is one that presents its recipient with a problem that must be resolved.
It may raise uncomfortable facts, or highlight a contradiction, surface something that we haven’t thought of before, or merely demand that its subject explain him or herself on a topic they have avoided or would prefer to not address.
Good questions can crystallize something that is on a lot of people’s minds, often by personalizing the topic.
Good questions also are ones that take a topic that is “out there” but until that moment haven’t really been addressed by their subject.
Good questions insist on accountability, and good questioners insist on real answers, not obfuscations.
When we as individuals and as a society fail to ask good questions of those with power or those who act in our name, democracy falters.
The purpose of the Good Question Project is simple: to foster the asking of more good questions.
Though not part of Micah’s original plan, I can imagine a million ways this project can and should find its way in to classrooms of all levels across the country.
Imagine telling your students, at the start of the coming semester, “For the rest of the year, in addition to our other work, we’re going to spot good questions and talk about why they’re important.” Imagine the power of such a goal in education.
We’d all be better for it. Check out the project and become a spotter.