Your kids are back in school for another semester, and you’re resolved once again to help them excel. You want them to learn. To grow. To master knowledge.
If you bring things back to their simplest form, knowledge often answers the question: “What?”
What do I need to know to do well on the test, to excel in this subject, or even to grow my faith? What dates/formulas/beliefs do I need to learn? At some level, everything from the alphabet to Bible stories gets processed through the lens of “what.”
It can be easy to leave it there. But there might be a danger in doing so.
Knowledge only really comes alive when you take it a step further and ask a next question. Sometimes this question gets asked. Sometimes it doesn’t. At times it’s even dismissed. But it shouldn’t be.
The question: “Why?
When you only ask “What?” you tend to get an accumulation of information. And that’s helpful. After all, learning your times tables or being able to recall the basic story of King David’s life is helpful. But knowledge gets sticky, knowledge gets relevant and knowledge comes alive when you consistently ask, “Why?”
You can almost see people learn forward when they start to ask questions like: Why does this matter? Why is this relevant? Why is this event recorded? Why is this being taught?
Ultimately, knowing why you’re learning something becomes a great motivator for continued learning.
I remember being in ninth grade and learning some basic high school math. I could figure out why I needed to know basic math. But I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why I needed to know the Pythagorean theorem. So as high school advanced, I dropped math. And now I wished I hadn’t. I realized if I would have been able to answer the “why” question, I might have persisted in math.
Both of my sons have persisted in math, and one is now beginning to write code for computers. He figured out the “why.”
What’s true in school is also true in faith. When we know why, we are more likely to get passionate about the what. It helps complete a great learning process.
Here’s what’s likely true. If your kids are young, they’re likely asking you why far too many times.
“We’re going to the grocery store.”
“Because we need food.”
“Because our bodies need food.”
Well, I won’t finish the conversation because you know where it’s going. If your kids are young, push through the annoyance at all the “why’s” because underneath it is an interesting series of questions.
If your kids are in their teen years, they may have stopped asking why. Raise the question for them. Help them connect the dots between the what and the why.
Ultimately, we become most passionate about the things we understand. And when it comes to knowledge, “Why?” is the question that unlocks all that and more.
What are you doing to encourage your kids to ask and answer the question, “Why?”