The art of posing (the right) questions

Reading Martha Nussbaum’s “Not for profit” gives the reader a new understanding of what education means. She shows how the use of Socratic values produce a certain type of citizen: active, critical, curious, capable of resisting authority and peer pressure.

“Dewey’s socratism was not a sit-at-your-desk-and-argue technique; it was a form of life carried on with other children in the pursuit of an understanding of real-world issues and immediate practical projects, under the guidance of teachers, but without imposition of authority from without. ” (Page 66)

“Tagore’s students were encouraged to deliberate about decisions that governed their daily life and to take the initiative in organizing meetings.” (Page 71) “Tagore’s school developed strategies to make students global citizens, able to think responsibly about the future of humanity as a whole.” (Page 84)

“The problems we need to solve – economic, environmental, religious and political – are global in their scope. They have no hope of being solved unless people once distant come together and cooperate in ways they have not before.” (Page 79)

Not for profit


Nussbaum and others helps us understand the importance of posing the right questions. Gaston Bachelard wrote in “Formation of the Scientific Mind”: “all knowledge is an answer to a question. Nothing is given. Everything is constructed”. Having the ability to pose the right questions is fascinating. Listening to Stephen Hawking helps understand how the need to explore and settle on new planets is linked to fundamental questions about the origin of the universe and the future of the human race. Asking the right questions is also what economist and recent Nobel prize Esther Duflo recommends to fight poverty, insisting on the need to come up with accessible solutions to concrete questions and problems.

Education is all about the art of posing the right questions and requires a lot of factual knowledge and ability to think critically.  What Nussbaum calls “global citizenship”.



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