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Yes, but why?

Why answering your kid’s questions might not be the right answer. A dōjō Practice with Chase Patillo.

I remember taking pride in answering every question my kids threw at me when they were younger. I admit; It felt good to display knowledge and patience for their infinite why’s.

But what if I told you that today I try to answer as little of their questions as possible? What changed?

Well, a window into the power of the Socratic method. Socratic as in Socrates, the Greek philosopher, who developed a method to educate his students through the use of critical thinking, reasoning, and logic. Chase Patillo, Head of School at Acton Academy in Austin, TX, where the Socratic method is actively and intentionally used with students daily. The goal is to give students the responsibility and ownership of their learning opportunities. So, when they come across a situation where a question sparks, they are encouraged to first find the answer on their own. The internet, a peer, or reflection might provide the answer, and if everything else fails, then, and only then can they approach a guide (teacher). As parents, the opportunity is to use questions in two ways; to improve our relationships, and to further our understanding of our kids.

First, we can encourage our kids to ask as many questions as they can. And second, we can ask them as many questions as we can to understand and help.

The idea is not to rush to an answer, but rather to engage in a dialogue where we facilitate our kids to find the answer. Yes, it takes more time. Yes, it demands our full attention. And yes, it’s hard to be always “on” for your kids’ questions. But the benefits exceed by far the disadvantages.

Listen to the advice Chase has to share with us and give it a try. Put it in action with one of your kids. Just don’t give them the answer because their answer will be 100 times better than yours.

Thank you, Chase!


Everyone in your family

Level of expertise
This takes time to practice

Key Words & Questions
That is a great question
What are some ways you can find the answer?
What inspired this question?
Why do you ask?

On being an Acton Parent 
Ask yourself: "Is there an opportunity for this young person to  figure out on their own?"
The socrativ mindset 
Identify what is the purpose or intention of using the socratic method: to lift up the energy, to help them explore deeper, to get to know them better, or to ,
Lead by example
Let them choose and define their own passions

When in doubt ask a question instead of giving an answer.

dōjō STREAM lessons related to this post:  
How do I work from home, with kids? with Iñaki and Hazel
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