Parenting Mantras

Teaching Creative Skills: Questioning

One of the best things about camping is that there is relatively low marketing materials and voices interrupting your day. Marketing messaging is EVERYWHERE. As I write this, I can look at today’s mail and find over a dozen different messages: Eat This, Don’t Eat That, Go Here For Fun, Buy This Product And You’ll Be Happy. As adults, we understand the concept of paid marketing and understand that we need to take these messages with a grain of salt. But – what about our kids? When you think of all of the messages they will receive on a daily basis once they reach school age, its hard not to be more than a little concerned.

As mentioned before in our definition post, creativity is all about thinking differently. I hope to add the skill of “questioning” to our daughters creative toolkit to try and combat the messages, fake news and attack advertisements that are seemingly omnipresent. There are dozens of different studies on how messaging affects children’s brains. This manuscript of an experiment published on the National Center for Biotechnology Information concludes that “Children consumed 45% more when exposed to food advertising”. It didn’t have to be the food that they were being messaged about – this was in reference to snacking while watching advertisements of food vs. advertisements of non-food products. Essentially – we not only have to worry about what is being messaged, but also the underlying activity that is being stimulated by the message. Scary stuff!

Questioning will become a very important tool for our kiddos if we are going to arm them with the power to be creative and not be as susceptible to all of the ridiculous messaging out there. In schools, teachers usually do the questioning and the students respond. It wasn’t until I was trained as a consultant that I learned about questioning techniques and how to formulate great open and closed questions. I hope to start this early with my daughter. Of course – there is a time and place to question things… it shouldn’t be when mom and dad say that it is time to go to bed… but I believe this will be an important skill to start on earlier rather than later.

So what do we do?

I really liked this book and site: A More Beautiful Question (MBQ) about teaching children to question. Their techniques are aimed at teachers, but I think this can easily be extrapolated to parents as well. We can practice teaching children about advertising by utilizing one of the activities from the MBQ website: Find a question focus – such as “Hamburgers are the perfect dinner food”, then let them come up with all of the questions they would need to ask in order to prove or disprove the statement. Then, after prioritizing and picking their favorites, they can research their own answers and come up with a response. This can be a fun activity for an older kiddo who has access to a library or the internet for research purposes (bonus – teaching kiddos to research appropriately!) as well as a younger kid who can come up with the questions to spark conversation with mom, dad, teachers and others in their community.

I am tucking this away for the use in the next few years. Have any of you come up with a great way to teach kids about questioning the messages they see and hear on a daily basis?

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