The Right Question Institute makes it possible for all people to learn to ask better questions and participate more effectively in key decisions.
Educators Want Students To Ask The Questions
Dan & Luz on Here & Now with Robin Young
The classic model of teaching is leading students by asking questions. It’s often called The Socratic Method, after the ancient Greek philosopher, but it’s a staple of the modern classrooms from elementary school up to college. The most famous Hollywood version of it may be from the film and TV show, The Paper Chase, set at Harvard Law School.
Educators Dan Rothstein and Luz Santana want to turn the standard model on its head. They’ve founded the “Right Question Institute,” based on the idea that it’s much more effective to teach students to formulate and ask their own questions. It’s critical not just for the classroom, but for students’ lives.
They also argue that the ability to ask questions is critical to a healthy democracy.
“It’s possible to imagine a dictatorship without questions, but not a democracy,” Dan Rothstein told Here and Now‘s Robin Young.
A clear, practical explanation with compelling examples of how to teach all students to ask their own questions.
RQI is a 501(c)(3) educational non-profit organization. Your tax-deductible contribution will help improve education for all students and make a difference in many communities.
A Message from our Directors
Luz Santana & Dan Rothstein
We’ve been at work for more than 20 years teaching a strategy that helps people in low-income communities learn to advocate for themselves and their families. We have seen people use the strategy to advocate for their children at school, participate in decisions that affect them at the welfare office, secure better job training opportunities, and partner more effectively with their healthcare providers. We’ve also seen that the same strategy has universal value and has been used by college and graduate school students, professors, and professionals in various fields.
What is the “Right Question Strategy?” It is deceptively simple: Teach two just skills; how to ask your own questions and how to participate in decisions that affect you. We are often challenged to explain why these simple skills even need to be taught, and then, there are times when those who understand the full significance of these very sophisticated skills need to be convinced that they can even be taught.
We are seeing an explosion of implementation around the country in teaching the skill of question formulation. Since Harvard Education Press published Make Just One Change: Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions in 2011, thousands of educators around the world have begun to teach their students how to ask their own questions. The results are students who are more engaged in their learning, take more ownership and learn more.
Learning “just” these two skills creates not only a pathway to success on many levels but also a pathway to full participation in democracy. We need more people capable of thinking for themselves and ready to make a contribution to building a more democratic and more just world.
Luz Santana / Dan Rothstein
Co-Directors, The Right Question Institute