General Quotes

“To question well is to teach well.  In the skillful use of the question more than anything else lies the fine art of teaching; for in it we have the guide to clear and vivid ideas, the quick spur to imagination, the stimulus to thought, the incentive to action.”

—Charles Degarmo (1911)


“Everything we know has its origins in questions.  Questions, we might say, are the principal intellectual instruments available to human beings.” 

—Neil Postman (1976)


“Courage lies at the heart of creativity, for it includes the willingness to ask questions which might challenge, and even break up, current perceptions and patterns.” 

—Marilee Goldberg (1998)


“…answers establish an edifice of facts; but questions…make the frame in which (the) picture of facts is plotted.  They make more than the frame,; they give the angle of perspective, the palette, the style in which the picture is drawn…” 

—Suzanne Langer (1993)


“Asking a question is the simplest way of focusing thinking…asking the right question may be the most important part of thinking.” 

—Edward de Bono (1994)


“No one can teach, if by teaching we mean the transmission of knowledge, in any mechanical fashion, from one person to another.  The most that can be done is that one person who is more knowledgeable than another can, by asking a series of questions, stimulate the other to think, and so cause him to learn for himself.”

—Socrates, 5th century BC


“In a classroom atmosphere conducive to good questions and questioning, students realize a shared responsibility for their learning.” 

—Francis Hunkins (1995)


What attracts my attention as I observe and what I find myself recording is information to help me answer questions that I may not yet have consciously asked.” 

—Glenda Bissex (1999)


“Curiosity is hardly ever idle.  What we want to know, we want to know for a reason.  The reason is that there is a hole, a gap, an empty space in our understanding of things, our mental model of the world.  We feel that gap like a hole in a tooth and want to fill it up.  It makes us ask How? When? Why? …When the gap in our understanding is filled, we feel pleasure, satisfaction, relief…the new piece fits in the gap like a missing piece in a jigsaw puzzle.  Once in place, it is held in, it can’t fall out.”

—John Holt (1982)


“Good questions outrank easy answers.”

–Paul A. Samuelson


“We grow up never questioning that which is unquestioned around us.”

—Margaret Mead


 “A good question is seductive; like a work of art, the response it generates is for enjoyment, not analysis.” 

—Morgan & Saxton (2006)


“Teachers often do not realize, or cannot accept, that a good question generates a silence filled with thought which leads to talk.” 

—Morgan & Saxton (2006)


“Quantity experience is not the same as quality experience; the more questions you ask does not make you a better questioner; it only helps you ask more questions in a shorter time.” 

—Morgan & Saxton (2006)


“Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.”


—Pablo Picasso

“We hear only those questions for which we are in a position to find answers.”

Friedrich Nietzsche


“My work is more about trying to ask good questions and not trying to come up with big shows. Every fashion company is doing that, every car company is doing that.”


—Laurie Anderson
“There are no right answers to wrong questions.”


—Ursula K. Le Guin

“Art is… a question mark in the minds of those who want to know what’s happening.” 

—Aaron Howard


“To conceive an educative question requires thought; To formulate it requires labour; To pose it, tact.  None of this is mysterious and all of it is within our reach.” 

—J.T. Dillon (1983)


“We are by nature question-asking, answer-making, problem solving animals and we are extremely good at it, above all when we are little.” 

—John Holt (1982)


“The essence of the question is the opening up, and keeping open, of possibilities.” 

—Hans Georg Gadamer (1975)


 “The earliest language was body language and, since this language is the language of questions, if we limit the questions, and if we only pay attention to or place values on spoken or written language, then we are ruling out a large area of human language.” 

—Paulo Freire and Antonio Faundez

(cited in O’Sullivan, 1998)


“I realize that you can interest the student so much more if you become interested in the material.  The inclusion of a simple “I wonder why…” can invoke intrigue and a sense of mystery from the question.” 

—Barton Hughes (2002)


“The art of good teaching begins when we can answer the questions our students are really trying to ask us, if only they knew how to do so.”

–Deborah Meier (2002)


“If we respect students’ abilities to define their own experiences, to generate their own hypotheses, and to discover new ways of categorizing the world, we might not be so quick to evaluate the adequacy of their answers.  We might, instead, begin listening to their questions.  Out of the questions of students come some of the most creative ideas and discoveries.” 

–Ellen Langer (1997)


“That is the essence of science: ask an impertinent question, and you are on the way to a pertinent answer.”

–Jacob Bronowski


“It is important that students bring a certain ragamuffin, barefoot irreverence to their studies; they are not here to worship what is known, but to question it.”


–Jacob Bronowski

“If we take the assembly of language (seriously, as we should) do not expect instant answers.  Developing a plan takes time—a few seconds at the very least and probably several minutes in many cases.  But it is worth the time.  Good questions take time, and so do good answers.” 

–James E. Zull (2002)


“My challenge as a satirical artist is how to present ideas to people to enable them to question and reexamine their beliefs. My hope is, that my work provokes people to look at things in a new way.”


–Joey Skaggs

“The job is to ask questionsit always wasand to ask them as inexorably as I can. And to face the absence of precise answers with a certain humility.”


–Arthur Miller

“And sometimes the question that you pose or the project that you start yourself turns into something else, you know, but at least it gets you started.”


–Bruce Nauman

“And then what makes the work interesting is if you choose the right questions.”


–Bruce Nauman

“Questions breed actions that lead to further questions, and these, in turn, to the boldness of further inquiring acts…the living history of man is the story of the questions he has enacted rather than the conclusions he has anchored in science or dogma.”

–George Kelly (1963)


“We must discover how to ask simple questions of ourselves.”

–John Ralston Saul (1993)


“Once you have learned to ask questions—relevant and appropriate and substantial questions—you have learned how to learn and no one can keep you from learning whatever you need to know.” 

–Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner (1969)


 “It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question.”

–Eugene Ionesco


“One who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; one who does not ask a question remains a fool forever.”

-Chinese Proverb


Be patient with all that’s unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms or like books written in a very foreign tongue. Do not seek the answers which cannot be given to you for you would not be able to live them.  And the point is to live everything.   Live the question now and perhaps then, gradually, without knowing it, you will live along some distant day into the answer.”

–Rainer Maria Rilke


To be on a quest is nothing more or less than to become an asker of questions.”

–Sam Keen


 “Judge others by their questions rather than by their answers.”



“The uncreative mind can spot wrong answers, but it takes a very creative mind to spot wrong questions.”

–Anthony Jay


“It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers.”

–James Thurber





“Quality questions create a quality life. Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.”







–Anthony Robbins



“The purpose of art is to lay bare the questions which have been hidden by the answers.”


–James Baldwin

“No question is so difficult to answer as that which the answer is obvious.”

–George Bernard Shaw







“The wise man questions the wisdom of others because he questions his own, the foolish man, because it is different from his own.”

–Leo Stein

“No man really becomes a fool until he stops asking questions.”


–Charles Steinmetz

“To find the exact answer, one must first ask the exact question.”


–S. Tobin Webster

“Questions show the mind’s range, and answers its subtlety.”

–Joseph Joubert


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