Queries or open-ended questions is a practice that stems from the Quaker Tradition that originated as a way of guiding the community without creeds. The first query is believed to be, “how does truth prosper amongst you?” A question posed to the whole Quaker monthly meeting. The response to which was sent back to the yearly meeting for review and sharing with other meetings. Today is has become more of a reflective tool, sometimes still used corporately, often used in individual practice.
Parker Palmer, who is one of the people who has influenced my pedagogy quite a bit, describes an honest, open-ended question is a question that I don’t know the answer to in advance. It is truly not searching for a particular answer but instead opens up the conversation for others to explore their own meaning-making.
Here are a couple other thoughts from Palmer found in Chapter VIII of A Hidden Wholeness, “Living the Questions:”
- A question that serves my needs, not yours, pressing you towards my version of your problem is not an open question.
- A dishonest question insults your soul, partly because of my arrogance in assuming that I know what you need and partly because of my fraudulence in trying to disguise my counsel as a query.
- An open question is one that expands rather than restricts your arena for exploration.