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How to question authority for social change

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Image by Robin Higgins from Pixabay

Warren Berger, the "questionologist," argues in his book, A More Beautiful Question, that the path to a more just and equitable society is paved not with prefabricated answers, but with the right questions. We often settle for the way things are, failing to question the systems that perpetuate social injustices. Berger, however, urges us to embrace the power of inquiry, particularly the power of "beautiful questions."

These are not just "what" or "how" questions, but the "why" and "what if" inquiries that challenge the status quo and ignite positive change. Instead of simply asking "how do we address poverty?", a beautiful question might be "why does poverty persist in a world of abundance?" This shift in focus compels us to examine deeper issues—access to resources, societal structures, and potential alternative economic models.

Beautiful questions can unearth hidden biases and injustices. Berger highlights the example of educators who asked, "Why are some students consistently falling behind?" The answer led them to uncover unconscious biases in standardized testing and curriculum design. This questioning led to a more inclusive learning environment, promoting social justice within the classroom.

The power of inquiry extends beyond identifying problems; it fuels creative solutions. Imagine communities asking, "What if everyone had access to quality healthcare?" This question could lead to innovative healthcare delivery models, community-based health initiatives, or even advocacy for policy changes.

Warren Berger is the "questionologist." He is the
author of A MORE BEAUTIFUL QUESTION: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas (Bloomsbury, 10th anniversary edition, 2024), THE BOOK OF BEAUTIFUL QUESTIONS:The Powerful Questions That Will Help You Decide, Create, Connect, and Lead  (Bloomsbury, 2018), and BEAUTIFUL QUESTIONS IN THE CLASSROOM: Transforming Classrooms Into Cultures of Curiosity and Inquiry (Corwin, 2020)—all focusing on the power of inquiry to spark breakthrough ideas and improve your daily life.
His website is amorebeautifulquestion.com

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*This interview will be recorded on Monday, March 25, 2024.

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David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi