Byron's Babbles

A Better Question

Posted in Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, Leadership, Leadership Development, Questions, Questions? by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on February 3, 2022

“Then I thought of a better question.” Dr. Ryland Grace said this in the incredible novel that I am reading right now, Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir. I’m not going to give much more context (because you really need to read the book) than to say he was working on an experiment and to get to the solution he needed a better question, not an answer. This is so true! Answers actually stop learning while questions start it, contextualizing what we don’t know. I love how Weir portrays Dr. Grace as knowing he needs to step it up and come up with better questions. We all need to do this in all we do.

The more we listen, the better our questions become and the more we learn. We need to be like Dr. Grace and not just ask questions, but really work at coming up with better questions. Stopping and thinking of a better question than the first one(s) might just save us from spending too much time and energy trying to solve the first iteration of a challenge with the first answer to the first question we have. That’s both limiting and counterproductive. Taking a moment to think if there is a better question might keep us in learning mode rather than judgment mode. If we’re asking a question, we’re not rushing in to provide the answer, give the solution, or take on the challenge.

When we think of a better question we need to be curious and dig a little deeper. We also need to remember and ask why?, what if?, and how? And one more thing. Did I mention that Dr. Ryland was alone? Well I am now. And…he was telling himself to think of a better question. Research has shown that even asking and answering your own questions helps you learn. To understand and remember. I love this research! I talk to myself and answer all the time. Research has also shown that asking conceptual questions helps us learn better that detail questions. Those of us in education need to remember this for our young scholars.

So, let’s not forget that asking questions is the key to learning. Let’s all keep thinking of a better question.


Bugg, J., & McDaniel, M. (2012). Selective benefits of question self-generation and answering for remembering expository text. Journal of Educational Psychology, 104 (4), 922-931 DOI: 10.1037/a0028661


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