Mind your As and Qs

13 Dec

Thehitchhikersguide ‘Why do you ask us so many questions, rather than just giving us answers?’ This comment from a first year student was a challenge to my teaching style, but also to the very purpose of higher education.

Are answers useful? (he asks, posing another question.) In The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy the definitive answer is given to the meaning of Life, the Universe and Everything.

42. So, now you have the answer to everything, what are you going to do with it? (another question).

To bring this back to our subject area, let’s propose that the answer to any public relations problem involves media relations. Is this necessarily true when the problem concerns internal communications, or in a fast-changing and fragmenting media landscape? Will it necessarily be true ten or fiteen years from now? Why limit the scope of the discipline or the range of future practitioners? So, I’m sorry, I’m sticking with questions.

Besides, questions (what’s the meaning of life?) are so much more interesting than answers (42).

3 Responses to “Mind your As and Qs”

  1. Mark Dorey 13/12/2006 at 4:48 pm #

    I tend to agree with the basis of your argument Richard. I think that unless you have an inquisitive mind and a questioning mentality then you are never going to be a fully effective PR practitioner.
    However, I think that there is a danger certainly in modern society of never accepting that there can be an absolute truth in a certain situation. This I suppose comes down to an opinion on philosophy and ethics – I for one am of the opinion that truth does exist…Whether we choose to believe or ignore it however, now thats an entirely different question!

  2. Heather Yaxley 13/12/2006 at 8:36 pm #

    Most small children learn by asking questions – so maybe we should challenge our students to ask us more questions.
    I find the skill as a tutor is to ask students the right questions that get them to think, and also speak up and participate in a debate that gets real depth of understanding.

  3. Karel Mc Intosh 14/12/2006 at 10:56 pm #

    I agree with the thinking that asking students questions develops their analytical skills. If we always got the answers easily, then we wouldn’t really be thinking for ourselves, would we?

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