The Importance of Asking…

by | Feb 14, 2024 | Community, Head of School

By Head of School Adam W. Fischer

Our friends at the JCC recently hosted author David Brooks to speak about his recent book, How to Know a Person. During divisive social times, Brooks’ focus has shifted to bringing people together and building community. Asking questions well plays a key role in this work. The parallels between the author’s efforts and our daily work with students at Rashi are powerful.


According to Brooks, a mere 30% of people worldwide are adept question askers. He attributes this deficiency to a lack of basic curiosity about others.


The skills of listening well, expressing oneself clearly, asking open questions, and being able to respectfully engage in conversation are critical to learning and life. Our students practice them daily. 


Curiosity is about more than seeking information; it’s about showing genuine interest in others’ experiences, thoughts, and perspectives. Brooks posits that the majority of individuals are inherently nice but lack the foundational skill of asking questions well. So, how can we cultivate this skill and become active participants in meaningful conversations? 


At Rashi, our educators strive to help students ask the right questions, fostering a culture of curiosity that permeates every grade level and subject. Our educators recognize that asking well extends far beyond academic pursuits; it is a skill that shapes character and builds empathetic individuals.


Rashi graduates ask insightful questions and possess the foundation needed to become great communicators. In an increasingly divided world, a shared, nuanced stance is often maligned as issues are framed to encourage a “with us or against us” approach. In response, we socialize the value of rejecting that binary by asking and engaging, aspiring not just to unify under one banner but to find common ground to build on with many. It all starts with a conversation.


During the upcoming break, if you find yourself with a bit of reading time, you may appreciate How to Know a Person: The Art of Seeing Others and Being Deeply Seen. Another option is to listen to him talking about the book: David Brooks No Small Endeavor and pose a question, what do you take from the experience? What are your thoughts and perspectives?


I would welcome the opportunity to have a conversation with you!