How many of us have heard our children or our students say the phrase “wait what?” Have they really not listened to what we have said? Are they just stalling to avoid the work ahead of them? Maybe they are asking for clarification. James Ryan, in his graduation speech at the Harvard School of Education, suggested that in fact this question may be a good one. It suggests, in his words, that it is important to slow down and make sure you truly understand. Further, Ryan explained that asking the question “wait what” indicates a desire for inquiry over advocacy. In other words, that there is a desire to understand before arguing for or against something. We discussed this very point in our team meeting today!
Inquiry keeps us curious, and it keeps us asking questions. So the next time your teen responds with the phrase “wait what” smile and enjoy it. Take the time to let them ask questions. Engage them in conversation and try to understand what they are getting at. You never know where the discussion will end up taking you.