The Art of Asking Questions 4
Fragments from imaginary dialogues
“How do you deliberately practice questioning?”
“I have a system for it. I’ve even created my own terminology.
The system has several components:
- QuestionCollecting (QCollecting)
- QuestionGeneration (QGeneration)
- QuestionEvaluation (QEvaluation)
- QuestionOptimization [<link; very short read] (QOptimization)
- QuestionTemplating [<link; medium read] (QTemplating)
QCollecting is exactly what it sounds like. I collect questions to use as tools and to learn from them. Key to this process is collecting not only good questions but also bad ones – they help you identify error patterns.
QGeneration and QEvaluation are complementary practices.
QGeneration is the practice of generating multiple alternative questions. One component of it is a practice I call QStorming [<link; short read], which is essentially BrainStorming with questions. You start with a central point of focus (QFocus), which can be a theme or a problem you’re trying to solve, and you generate questions based on that focus.
QEvaluation is the practice of narrowing down the generated questions to discover the best ones. Another aspect of it is a practice I call QAnalysis: deconstructing questions with the purpose of learning from them.
QOptimization is the practice of optimizing questions. Taking a bad question and turning it into a good question. Taking a good question and turning it into an optimal question – or set of questions.
QTemplating is the practice of turning repeated question patterns (QPatterns) into question templates (QTemplates). This means, whenever you notice multiple questions with the same structure, keeping the fixed part of the questions and replacing the changing part with variables:
How can you optimize Learning?
How can you optimize Writing?
How can you optimize x? (QTemplate)
What ties everything together is a practice I call Meta-Questioning: the process of asking questions about asking questions – I call this type of questions Meta-Questions [<link; short read] (MQ).
Can you ask a better question? (MQ)
Can you ask a bigger question? (MQ)
Can you ask a x question? (MQTemplate)
Can you ask this question better? (MQ)