info 01.15.13

The Right Question Institute
Every Person in New York

THE MORNING LINE One last look back at 2012,
as only Charles Simic could write it:
A Year in Fragments.

Several times a year since 2006, we've asked you to support Donors Choose to help stock New York City schools with books. MUG readers have funded projects in 96 classrooms, putting books into the hands of 7,673 of the city's young students. Strengthening education is a civic duty in our book, and it always warms our hardened city hearts when we see, year after year, your generosity in support of that goal.

Along those lines, a reader pointed us to The Right Question Institute and we wanted to let you know about it, too—a relatively simple idea that can help change a child's whole experience of the learning process.

It started with a dropout prevention program in Massachusetts and eventually became a technique that can improve a child's path through the educational system, and indeed through life. It focuses on the importance of formulating questions in the classroom, and, broadening that out, on asking the right questions on key decisions affecting them.

To that end, the founders Luz Santana and Dan Rothstein developed the (now-trademarked) Question Formulation Technique to help educators teach students this skill. As they point out, it doesn't just produce more thoughtful students, it can be a 'catalyst for microdemocracy', since asking questions—the right questions—is fundamental to civic engagement.

In 2011, Santana and Rothstein wrote Make Just One Change: Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions.

Teaching this to students is not the answer to everything that needs fixing in our educational system. But the questions are part of the answer.

Jason Polan started Every Person in New York in March of 2008. He plans on working on the project until it is finished. Look for Every Person in New York on Tuesdays in MUG and daily at Jason's site.

Moma (from 2011)

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