A Blog on Big Questions

David – The Death of Socrates

Why would people work hard if there were no rewards or consequences?

Can one ever truly be happy?

All my life I’ve been fascinated with questions. The fascination intensified in college as a political science and philosophy major when I read about Socrates who, as history tells us, made a living walking around asking people questions. His questions were penetrating, inspired multiple perspectives of understanding and often left his conversation partners scratching their heads in confusion. Rather than assume he knew the truth, Socrates humbly revealed the ignorance of others, and paid the ultimate penalty.With Socrates as a model, questioning became a lifelong addiction and teaching became the ideal treatment for this addiction. In the classroom my core energies are centered around how to use questions to increase a student’s capacity to wonder, handle complicated issues and tolerate diverse views. I consider these outcomes to be hallmarks of a great education.

My love of philosophy and two-plus decades of teaching experience have thus inspired me to start this blog as a way to share what I have learned and to continue learning from others.

This blog celebrates Big Questionswhat they look like, why they are important and what we can do to integrate more of them in our classrooms.

The posts here will be short, provocative and useful. Though most of the early posts will focus on social studies, over time the I plan to involve all subject area teachers in the quest to incorporating more Big Questions into the learning experience.

Posts will fall under three categories:

Big Question Lesson Artifacts:


Big Questions In Action

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Big Question Professional Development

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Many of the Big Questions in this blog were designed by teachers who took an online graduate course I instruct, “Socrates in the Social Studies.” Other questions will be from my personal lessons and from the amazing teachers and organizations with whom I’ve worked over my career.

I hope this blog awakens your desire to ask more questions and think big about how to inspire your students.

Do you already use questions extensively in your classroom?  If so, how?

Are your students open to confronting questions without clear answers or are they obsessed with questions that have a definite answer?

Next Post:  What does a Big Question look like?

Author: Dan Fouts

Since 1993 I've taught AP government, philosophy and US history in the Chicagoland area. I served as a member of the committee on pre-collegiate instruction in philosophy through the American Philosophical Association from 2012-2016 and am co-founder of the Living Library project, a professional development program through which teachers digitize and share artifacts of their best ideas. Additionally, I instruct an online course- Socrates in the Social Studies - which is designed to help middle/high school teachers integrate Big Questions into their classrooms.

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