As I faced the few dozen middle/high schoolers, as I was ready to embark on my idea of teaching them the Right Question Formulation Technique (RQFT), I was flooded with doubt. I have led the RQFT several times -- with teachers of a private high school as part of their professional day, with college freshman as part of their interdisciplinary seminar, with religious professionals as part of a cross cultural immersion experience, and with a group of sub/urban teens as part of the same -- a cross cultural immersion experience. But 40 kids, including MIDDLE SCHOOLERS? What was I thinking?
On this day of the summer school program, I did what I always do when leading groups. I made quick adaptations to who was in front of me. I learned early on that it is an automatic failure for a leader to treat one group like the previous group. Variables like learning styles, race, class, age, gender, personality, dynamic, all create a group feel.
On this day, the first adaptation I made for the first time, in a split second, was to introduce my theme as The Good Question Game. I did this because "RQFT" and what it stands for is a mouthful, even though it is simple and engaging experience. Plus I had lots of game cred with the middle schoolers and the high schoolers. This past year, I've used leadership games, ethical games, thinking games, name games, art games, and game games to teach and connect.
Years ago, my love of games for learning was ordained by the late Stan Crow. The mentor's mentor and scholar of creating coming of age programs, he taught that the game, and even moreso -- the game debrief -- was curricula that could provide all lessons.
Games connect, equalize and tune a group. But it has to be a Good Game. My own rules for a good game are:
A Good Game has to have a point or purpose and require strategy.
A Good Game has to be fun to play whether you are winning or losing.
A Good Game is one that ya can't know ahead of time who will win or lose.
I love playing games with children and teens. They are willing and ready. As a result, we have some very deep experiences together. In my experience, adults have a much more difficult time suspending intellectual insistence.
And so when I announced we would be learning and playing the Good Question Game, all were excited. I gave the adults important jobs to do -- timekeepers, scribes, and cheerleaders. First I shared the rules to producing good questions:
And then there is a next step in getting ready. The group reviews the rules and talks about what might be challenging in following them. The anticipation builds but everyone is on board, yes?