The reason, purpose, or cause of something has always been at the forefront of any improvement in our culture. The results may not always be what were intended, but the developments cast a long shadow over most everything we do.
Think about the advancements in technology since someone asked why and NASA made it their goal to escape gravity and land on the moon.
Children are famous for asking why when they see little immediate personal benefit in something we ask them to do. Students are notorious with the why question when teachers ask them to do something in the classroom that seems as though it serves no immediate learning benefit.
Several weeks ago our high school football staff attended our annual coaching conference to surround ourselves with the latest technology, strategies, and philosophies in high school football.
From all over the country coaches offer classes ranging from building a program, maintaining a program, or improving a struggling program to strategies, concepts and philosophies.
Without exception, each coach is answering the why question.
Every coach we talked to inevitably gets around to asking the same question: “Why are you doing what you are doing the way you are doing it?”
If we don’t have a clear answer, or reason, then we have to think about what we are doing and look for a strategy to improve.
It’s the same in our classrooms.
As teachers we look for ways to improve our instruction and curriculum delivery so kids will learn. We train, go to conferences, and spend time Friday afternoons hashing out instructional issues and problems that occur in our classrooms. I always want to know why the things I’m doing as a teacher are not as effective as they could be and how I can improve.
It’s easy to blame someone or something for an unsuccessful outcome, but it’s better to ask, why?
When things don’t go as planned each one of us has a responsibility to ask why. Our school district is going through a process of asking our community many why questions so that we continue what’s working and improve on what isn’t.
As we were driving back from the Boulder Track & Field Meet late Saturday night, some of our track team wondered why we don’t have a Chipotle Mexican Grill in Craig.
One of the students was about to blurt out, “Because it’s Craig,” but stopped just short and said, “I don’t know, someone should open one up.”
“Now we’re onto something big,” I thought.
In that very brief exchange, on the bus, late at night, the student realized blaming Craig was useless and was looking for an answer to the why question by voicing a strategy for change.
Why do we do the things we do the way we do them?
Keep asking, Moffat County.
By the way, why don’t we have a Chipotle Mexican Grill in Craig?
Just wondering why.
Lance Scranton is a Moffat County High School teacher and coach. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.