Once upon a time, there lived a great surgeon.
Only no one yet knew she was a great surgeon. Few people even knew she was a surgeon at all. She was unknown—until she appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show.
Don't waste time leafing through the Ed Sullivan archives trying to identify the one or two surgeons that might have been on his show. This was a different Ed Sullivan Show. (And a different Ed Sullivan.)
Nor was she on the show as a surgeon. Ed called her a singer/songwriter. Or a basketball star. A mathematician. Con artist. School teacher.
Whatever her name or profession, after the show, she was great. (Like Ed Sullivan himself.)
Being great has it’s advantages. The surgeon became widely respected and everyone wanted her as their surgeon rather than anyone else. Her rates soared. She lived in a big house.
Medical students competed with one another to study under her and learn from her.
The surgeon lived for many years, then died. Her students replaced her. First, by bearing witness to teachings that may or may not have had anything to do with her. You had to be there to know. Later, by telling their own stories as a continuation (and improvement) of where she left off.
Elementary school. Behave yourself!
Pay attention. Do your homework. Get good grades.
First grade is easy. And sort of fun. Second grade is harder. A lot less fun. Third grade, there are things you must know. For fourth grade. Which leads to fifth grade. And so on, through college.
Students may ask questions, when time permits. It’s as critical to their education as choosing colors is to getting dressed. Unavoidable.
Questions are like smashed windows that need to be replaced by clear answers. Answers without questions. (Answers without question.) Knowledge.
Early learners ask the cutest questions! But they learn. Students should ask questions when they don’t understand. When they don’t know the answers. Teachers give them answers until they do.
Students prove their understanding by providing answers upon request.
Student stumbles through a long series of difficult and meaningless assignments which (surprise!) endow the student with special powers.
We live in a society that values answers. Answers without questions. Encounter someone with different answers, and you know they must be wrong. It bothers you. Being right is good. Being wrong is bad.
Especially when being wrong threatens disaster.
You feel compelled to teach what you know—perhaps combatively. At the very least, you steer well clear. Save yourself the anguish.
Answers are questions dressed in fine robes. Like royalty, they have a tendency to squabble.
Questions are more modest. Think of them when you want to accomplish more with less effort.
Think of questions not as answers waiting to get dressed, but as a path to inspiration. For example, if you hear someone say something foolish, would you rather ask questions that prove you right, or to learn something new?
Be creative. Let your questions ask what you honestly wish to know.