Thinking about Questions

I like questions. I like writing about questions. Not even answering questions — asking them, writing them down, is sometimes enough for me. I like questions that urge to think, to start writing, or acting. Some questions might even make me cry. Some motivate to reflect. January is a time of the year when resolutions and promises to oneself are made. I have also been looking back on the year that finished and reflecting on various aspects of my life, setting goals, making plans and decisions.

In this post I would like to share some inspiring questions – for thinking and reflecting, now and in the future, in class and in general. So…

In December 2014 Anna Loseva wrote a post with 30 questions to ask yourself at the end of the year. They were meant to be a good classroom (speaking and/or writing?) activity for students, but this year the post grew into something much bigger and became a great blogging challenge. I really enjoyed reading the responses by Sandy, Vedrana, Matthew (there are parts 2 and 3, I think!), Anthony, Rachel (and looks like many more are coming!)

Hana edited the questions turning them into a classroom task for her students.

Can you guess what this is for?

Can you guess what this is for?

Now, moving away from ELT theme/community. I loved the three questions from David Allen’s newsletter I am subscribed for –  [Note: the productivity tips he has on the site are very good – for any time of the year!]

How good can you get?

How much better can your systems be?

How can you create more clear space in your mind and your life?

Another good set of questions came from Your Digital Year in Review by Alexandra Samuel on Harvard Business Review.  Quote first:

We need to periodically step back to ask whether all our gadgets, social networks, and online explorations are really serving us — or whether it’s actually vice versa.

What made me more productive, and which devices or workflows let me down?

When was I moved or delighted?

Where did I meet or engage with people who have strengthened my work?

Where did I learn the most?

The other set of questions I like and have been thinking about since last summer is below (unfortunately, can’t remember the source, translation from Russian is mine)

  1. What gives energy to you?
  2. What excites you?
  3. What are you thinking about while taking a shower?
  4. What am I (often) asked about?
  5. What do you talk about with my close friends and/or loved ones?
  6. What do you do in my free time (free from work, family, hobby)?
  7. What have you been reading (about) recently?
  8. What kind of dreams have you had lately?
  9. When was the last time you felt very alive?
  10. Are your interests in harmony with your abilities?
  11. What were your childhood fears?
  12. What would you do if you did not have to worry about money?
  13. What would you do if you did not care about others’ opinion?
  14. What activities matter to you most?
  15. What skills can you mix to produce a result interesting for others?
  16. Write your own bio in two sentences.

The next one is on critical reading/thinking, offering 183 questions for writing and discussion. I was almost saying that these questions are meant for students, but I could not: I think many are for readers of any age and occupation.

I actually like the fact that these questions are far from the classroom. The last resource I would like to share is Seth Godin’s short post of the day on Ten Questions for Work that Matters.


Any question that’s difficult to answer deserves more thought. Any answers that are meandering, nuanced or complex are probably a symptom of something important.


What are your favorite questions?

Happy reflecting in the new term – and thank you for reading! 🙂

About Zhenya

ELT: teacher educator, trainer coach, reflective practice addict
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4 Responses to Thinking about Questions

  1. Hana Tichá says:

    Hi, Zhenya,

    My favourite set is the first one:

    1) How good can you get?
    2) How much better can your systems be?
    3) How can you create more clear space in your mind and your life?

    When reading them, I imagined a house – number 1 represented the roof, number 2 the structure (walls and the supporting pillars), and number 3 the space of the rooms.

    Interestingly enough, yesterday, I was struggling with a really challenging task – something totally out of my comfort zone – and the questions eventually helped me to solve the problem. I’d like to stress that I did not answer the questions at all. I only asked them. Interesting. 🙂


    • Zhenya says:

      Hi Hana

      Have I ever told how impressive it is that you are able to take an idea and extend it? Wow – the House metaphor in relation to the three questions is simply beautiful. Besides, the house can have more than one floors, right?..

      I am so with you when you say it was more about thinking about the questions than answering them. Perhaps the answers will come, when time comes 🙂

      Thank you for the comment!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Pingback: One More Reflective Metaphor | Wednesday Seminars

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