Ask How...

The older boys' monthly GPA came out yesterday. While Erik's improved on the last report before the holidays, Lukas' didn't. To be clear, Erik improved in one subject, which brought his average GPA up. Lukas dropped in a number of subjects, which took his down.

One of the most interesting changes was to their maths results. Each boy has now attended three maths tutorials (missing last week's because the school concert was on that day). Erik has seen an improvement in his maths outcomes - generally speaking in class participation (he says this is because he has been helping other students). Where as Lukas has seen a rather dramatic drop in his maths GPA - a whole point!

So, we had a talk about these results last night, and what came to light with the comments from the school and through talking to the boys, is that they lack initiative. They do exactly what is asked of them, but no more. They don't offer to answer questions in class, and if they don't have outstanding homework before maths tutoring they don't do any work (because the tutor is not there to set work, but to help with problems they bring up).

This got us talking about asking questions and I found myself saying the following to them…

'Don't ask what, where, why, who, or when, ask HOW!'

Asking all the W questions puts the responsibility for action on the other person.

I gave them this example, 'You want to go hang out with your friends, don't ask me, '
"Mum, can I go hang out with my friends.", instead ask me, "Mum, how can I get you to let me go hang out with my friends."

'Don't ask your teachers, "What should I do in English?", as them, "How can I improve my skills/participation/preparedness in English?", they'll tell you!'

Erik argued that this was a form of bribing. I said it wasn't because bribing is giving something of not-much-consequence to you, to get something you really value, trading very little for very big. This kind of questioning is all about co-operation and learning. Learning what it takes to work towards your goal of improving you outcomes. Improving you class mark, or improving your chances of hanging out with your friends more often.

I think this works very well for adults as well. If you are in a difficult situation with a person who just won't co-operate, ask them 'How can I convince/reassure/encourage you?' It shows you also care about them, not just about what you will get out of the situation. And it shows initiative. It shows you are willing to work for a better outcome, not just wait for it to present itself to you!

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Don't ask What, where, when, why, or who - ASK HOW!

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