By Dr. Monica Gillespie
Head of Upper School
“I don’t write out of what I know; I write out of what I wonder. I think most artists create art in order to explore, not to give the answers. Poetry and art are not about answers to me; they are about questions.” ―Lucille Clifton
Why celebrate questions? Isn’t it all about the answers? While answers are critical in the learning process–a cycle of inquiry and exploration–the learning happens in asking the right questions. Through reflection and discovery, new questions emerge.
We celebrate questions because they help us learn. At Parker, we are dedicated to this process of learning–of engaging in inquiry. If your children are anything like mine, then you will recall the millions of questions they asked–so curious and filled with wonder. Over time, the questions evolved, from “what is snow?” to “how does the Internet work?” (I still can’t answer that question). They want to know and understand the world in which they live. Fortunately for us, they bring their questions with them to Parker where we welcome their inquisitiveness. Spurred on by our talented faculty, students delve deeper into topics such as social justice, literary and historical analysis, scientific inquiry, and artistic problem-solving.
This problem-solving was in full effect in the months leading up to and including Poetry Week. Students used poetry to explore . . . to ask questions. They wrestled with these questions that sparked their creativity and shared their journey of looking for, and sometimes finding the answers through their beautiful poems.
We celebrate questions because they lead us through pathways of discovery and reflection. Our students are in an important time of growth and their questions about self and others guide them to a stronger sense of identity. Their questions are not about why cats purr but rather about why there are pain and suffering in the world and what they can do to help. They are searching, exploring, and wondering. We provide the space for their questions and challenge them with ours. Faculty and staff support our students’ healthy growth and development through this reflective process. It is one of the many ways that Parker shines.
We celebrate questions because they help us improve and become better versions of ourselves. Parker recently completed the accreditation process, a multi-year study of all aspects of our school and how well we are living our mission. This process is driven by reflective questions. As we responded to those questions, we came to understand better who we are as a school, what we do well, and where we need to grow.
In addition to the accreditation process, the Upper School has been focused on several key questions about our students’ experience using the working group model I shared with the community during Back-to-School Night. These groups are studying important questions about homework, student awards and recognition, advisory, and AP/Honors workload. In the late spring, we look forward to sharing what we learned and any adjustments we will be making to our Upper School program and/or policies.
We celebrate questions because they guide us to even greater understanding—an exciting and important journey of continuous learning.