I use the Creative Questions thinking routine (also called Question Starts) frequently to generate a list of interesting questions for new objects, images or themes that I would like to use in a guided art discussion or as part of a new educational programme. This routine encourages you to really observe and get to know the artwork or topic you are researching. It provokes your curiosity to find out more and gently pushes you to push beyond questions about information. Brainstorming a list allows you to flow through your first ideas, and then go beyond to deeper or more generative questions.
- The ‘question starts’ provided by the routine provide inspiration to get you started with the process of phrasing interesting questions. With repeated use, these questions starts and the language of inquiry becomes automatic and phrasing good, substantial open-ended questions of your own becomes much easier.
- After you’ve come up with a list of at least 12 generative questions, you are then asked to place a star next to the most interesting ones. You can then take time to discuss one or all of these – either on your own if you’re doing the exercise individually or with a few colleagues. Working through the steps of this thinking routine with others, also helps to generate a list with a variety of perspectives other than that of your own.
I recently used this thinking routine during one of the live group tutorials for my VTMO course. Our focus in Module 2 is all about questioning and I really wanted participants to generate their own lists of questions around a specific artwork, before narrowing the list down to just one question that they would like us to discuss with the group as a whole.
Most participants agreed that the task was difficult at first, but that the question prompts helped them get started. The outcome was worth it.
“Great to go through the process we will be going through with students and want the students to go through…how do the questions themselves feel?”
NB: This thinking routine can also be used by guides educators with groups as a way of generating a list of questions to decide exactly which lines of enquiry they will would like to explore.