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Dan Morris

The Questions We Aren’t Asking

Obsessed with answers and solutions, we are losing sight of the value and practice of questioning. In this time of economic crisis and political opportunity, how we understand our biggest challenges will benefit from a return to inquiry. Our true resilience depends on our ability to encounter what we don't know and struggle with it—to think and act in ways that transport us outside comfortable bubbles of sameness and agreement. That's the argument of The Death of "Why?:" The Decline of Questioning and the Future of Democracy, the wide-ranging new book by Andrea Batista Schlesinger that should be at the top of your summer reading list.

Check out this excerpt. Or better yet, order it.

Through frontline reporting and extensive research, she shows that the main forces shaping our lives—the Internet, media, schools, and politics—create insufficient space and time for questions. But along the way she finds reason for optimism in leaders and organizations still committed to the inquiry that keeps us asking why. She chronicles people and places transcending ideological segregation, powerful examples of how deliberative democracy can push us in unexpected directions and even change our minds.

She argues that recovering the civic mission of education will prepare young people to participate in the decision-making that affects their lives. We need to teach the next generation that inquiry is as much about asking questions as it is about learning how to evaluate and analyze—a careful process of discernment that plugging search terms into Google and retrieving the first responses cannot replace. She distinguishes between the superficial connectivity available online and the ethos of engagement that requires deep commitment.

Progressive change is most effective--and lasting--when educated citizens possess the conviction and capacity to transform institutions and impact policy by expanding the boundaries of what is achievable in government.

Please join DMI for a celebration of Andrea’s book June 24 from 6:30-8 p.m. at The Feldman Gallery, 31 Mercer Street, in New York City. Katrina vanden Heuvel, Ana Oliviera, Dan Cantor, Ana Maria Archila and several other special guests will be in attendance. Space is limited, so be sure to RSVP today:

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Posted at 2:49 PM, Jun 08, 2009 in Education
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