Answer in a different medium

Posted: 2017-08-07 , Modified: 2017-08-07

Tags: teaching, communication, interaction, story, unlinked

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Sometimes, Q & A is not very effective. Just giving literal answers to the questions that people ask you does not change their minds or get them to think differently, no matter how hard you try. It can be hard to restrain the automatic urge to answer.

You can answer a slightly different question that’s more enlightening (it’s hard, after all, to find the right questions to ask). You can retort with a question of your own. You can give access to answers rather than answers (“check out these resources!”), because just answering can choke off possibilities - especially if you are in the position of teacher. You can answer not with text, but with art: tell a story, make a song or movie, start a protest.

For example, “why should we abolish nuclear weapons?” The question can be answered with a list of reasons, or it can be answered by producing a science-fiction radio drama where a man returns on a spaceship to find that the whole world has been destroyed. Which is more powerful?

The song Human, for instance, was a response. One can imagine, also what kinds of questions you might answer with “Pocahontas” or “Frozen.”

<> A poet I met at a slam poetry event said, “People say that poetry doesn’t resemble speech. I say, why can’t we talk more like poetry?”

See also Art and questions.