The Question X Revisited

Tomorrow, 20 November 2014, is UNESCO’s World Philosophy Day. Celebration of the day “underlines the enduring value of philosophy for the development of human thought, for each culture and for each individual.”
In recognition of the day I am reblogging a recent post from The Philosophy Foundation which discusses the differences between open and closed questions and explains the greater value of The Question X.
The importance of encouraging children to ask questions has been a recurring theme on my blog (here, here, here and here) , as has the need to encourage them to think for themselves rather than to become experts at regurgitating force-fed information (here and here).
The discussion of The Question X gave me a lot to think about. Maybe it will do the same for you.
Happy thoughts and thinking on World Philosophy Day 2014!


We read this blog ‘Closed Question Quizzing, Unfashionable Yet Effective‘ by Andy Tharby the other day. The virtues of closed questioning are well known to The Philosophy Foundation as they are central to our philosophical questioning approach, so we wanted to share this extract taken from a chapter entitled ‘If it, Anchor it, Open it up: A closed, guided questioning technique‘ that Peter Worley has written for the forthcoming book The Socratic Handbook ed. Michael Noah Weiss, LIT Verlag, 2015. Some of these ideas were first written about in The Question X published in Creative Teaching and Learningand available here: The Question X. In this blog Peter has developed some of the ideas written about in The Question X.

Plato’s Socrates asks many closed questions – questions that elicit a one-word or short answer such as ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘Paris’. Dip in to any of the dialogues…

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10 thoughts on “The Question X Revisited

  1. Annecdotist

    I have made the mistake, when facilitating discussion, of expecting adults to be able to answer an open question, before they’ve got their thoughts together. So can see the logic of starting with a closed question and then opening out.
    I like how I’m learning about philosophy from your blog, Norah. I wonder if you’d enjoy Samantha Harvey’s fiction which is very philosophically based, review posted just now on my blog:

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Norah Post author

      I think (hope) I have commented on the post you directed me to, Anne, and thank you for your comment. The change from a totally open question to use of Question X seems so straightforward and effective that it’s amazing we have stumbled upon it before. I think it is likely that we have, but admitting that one was using closed questions would have been tantamount to treason (well, that’s an exaggeration but no one would have been impressed!) I apologize I kept you waiting for a response. I appreciate your input and patience. 🙂


    1. Norah Post author

      It is a bit more than that. The questioning begins by providing a focus for the thinking and responses rather than allowing what ever random thought flutters by on the breeze, and then opens it up to thoughts in that focus area; so the left half of the X, the first part of the questioning, is the focus; and the second part, the right half of the X is the opening up. Peter does give a good example in his article. I will come back with it when I can access the internet on my computer. Commenting is too frustrating on my iPad! 😳

      Liked by 2 people


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