Questions are more than important

Questions are more than important

Anyone who has had small children to deal with knows that they learn instinctively by asking questions. So much so that their questions can become quite tiresome. The good parent never tires of answering them because they are the foundation of the child’s intellectual and moral code. It’s not just the answers either but how they are dealt out, the encouragement or discouragement that accompanies them, the attitude of the person answering.

In what I have said above you will notice the five basic things that are as vital to our communications today as they were when mankind was trying to harness fire or invent the wheel. They are Question, Answer, Intellect, Morals, Attitude. Whatever measurements we learn to apply to life they will be useful only if we apply them to the right Answers. Whatever Answers we get will only enhance our lives if we have the intellect to apply them. Intellect is creativity at work, helping to turn what we learn into what we do.

Not everyone is intellectually bright. This has proved a political stumbling block in societies trying, quite reasonably, to “level the playing field” – by which they mean prevent the clever from having an advantage over the not so clever. A doubtful objective, the solutions applied at the educational level are wrong because they deny difference instead of celebrating it. Intellectually gifted children deserve special attention just as much as less gifted children. Indeed, if they don’t get it we shall have a future leader cohort that is totally amoral.

Beyond the intellect we all need morals. In a world dangerously full of Regulators we are slipping inexorably into a situation where everything not compulsory will be forbidden. That is how dictatorships are run and it is the Regulators ultimate weapon. It is also society’s ultimate failure. When we spend much of our lives getting round the regulations morality has failed, and so have we.

Mankind is different from the animals mainly because we have a better moral code allowing us to form society. In the last century we have developed that code, sometimes successfully mostly not very well. That is because we have tried to systematise too much. System is good, order and prescription are essential, especially when running a nuclear generating plant or flying an aircraft. But when system takes over from thinking it is doing a disservice.

We can correct the balance between humanity and roboticism by asking questions. Doing so should be at the top of the agenda of every educational establishment, of every household and of every job specification. From questioning we develop the skill of assessing Attitude. That is when we begin to make good judgments, about people, about decisions that affect our future careers and lives and about the priorities we should attend to while we can.

Watch a skilled interviewer with a potential employee. They will not be asking about experience or re-running the Resume. They will seek to establish the attitude of the interviewee. Only when they discover this will they know if they should employ them.