A Book of Questions: Tips, Ideas and FYIs
<<MORE QUESTIONS TO COME!>>
This informal page offers tips and insights on how to handle select questions in A Book of Questions, along with ideas and inspirations for how to take some pages further. There's no right answers for this book - but some questions take a bit of thinking in order to tackle them. So this is a place where we'll provide some helpful how-to's.
This web page refers to questions found in the workbook version, however, it will also apply to much of the 5 x 7 conversational version.
This is a "living" document, so to speak. We will update it frequently, and we take requests! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like us to add info or tips about a specific question.
Tips, Ideas, FYIs
The scenario number will appear in grey if the number is different in the 5x7 conversational version.
- FYI: We use Machiavelli a few times in this book - he's a good go-to for debates and discussions.
- 1.4 | Take this further by engaging in a discussion about the qualities of leadership. Great essay potential.
[Question 3] (#4)
- FYI: There are a lot of interesting articles and research on "lizard brain". It's a fascinating topic for further inquiry!
[Question 4] (#3)
- 4.3 | If having trouble tackling this question, ask what are things that require a lot of attention, or that people have trouble sustaining their attention on. Things like reading books, holding conversations, studying, watching a movie with subtitles, absorbing and following instructions. Work backwards from there.
- 4.4 | Build on 4.2, but the idea is to think creatively and visually, and to drill down to details. (Show don't tell.) Literally, what could you film that would show an audience that the people in this fictional society have lost the human ability to focus.
- 5.3 | Though there may be different answers, this question was inspired by the idea around losing your voting rights if you are convicted of a crime. Depending on the age of the student/child, it's a good relevant topic to research, explore or debate. Great essay topic too. (Also related to a question in our book Agree or Disagree? on whether students should lose their right to vote in class elections if they they chronically misbehave and don't do any work.)
- Overall, this page is inspired by the inherent double-sword aspect of tech: on the one hand it's supposed to free humanity and connect us, but on the other hand... things never quite work out that way.
- 4.4 | Coming up with four ideas may be difficult - but this is about pushing the creative out-of-the-box brain and working those imaginative problem-solving skills.
- 4.4 cont'd | Good for group work. For older students/kids, research will illuminate some possibilities, from universal basic income (a growing idea), to integrating our brains with tech (proposed by Elon Musk), to starting completely new off-the-grid societies. A relevant topic to further study. Good potential for essay or fiction writing and class debate.
- 4.1 | Definitions aren't easy when it comes to concepts. But a good brain exercise nonetheless. (Dictionary.com has a good kid-friendly definition for convenience: "anything that saves or simplifies work, adds to one's ease or comfort, etc., as an appliance, utensil or the like.")
- 4.2 | Thinking about everything from Amazon Prime, microwave meals, fast food, Uber, Uber eats, music streaming, smartphones... the list is truly endless. Fun for group brainstorming sessions.
- 8.2 | Great question for a class (or family) poll.
- 8.3 | Thinking here about different ways that society's norms change - ie, forcing changes through laws and related laws; forcing change by removing alternate ways of doing things - so in this scenario, no longer being able to pay any other way; socializing change, as in people seeing new ways of doing things in media/social media/movies, etc.; incentives/getting rewards for switching to new methods; and of course peer pressure and fear, which could be created in a number of nefarious ways.
- 11.2 | This might be difficult to tackle. You can start by asking what are challenges in any decision-making process. For instance:
- not everyone agrees on what's to be done (no consensus, competing values/priorities); the cost is too high; money may be used for other things deemed more important (opportunity cost); the consequences of a decision can adversely affect a group of people; there are too many cons compared to the pros (cost v benefit analysis); you haven't made a strong enough case for it; your opponents have done a better job of presenting their side.
- Then, apply some of the generic challenges to this particular question on animal habitats.
- FYI Great topic for a debate/discussion. Draw from hypothetical scenarios and real world examples.
- We almost made this a spread, with the second page being blank for kids to come up with their own apologies. But it wasn't working for the book. It would however make an interesting assignment - possibly pulling from appropriate historical figures?
- 14. 2 | You can tackle this question by considering how this hypothetical law would be enforced (snitch lines, snooping software on your computer, Alexa :) ). Then you can work backwards, asking how these enforcement possibilities would affect your life and those around you. It may potentially be easier to do the effects on one's own life first and then one's country.
- This is really about working the creative mind. Thinking about things like outdoor walls that are covered in flowers and greenery, paying people to look after hives in their backyard, genetically modified super flowers, AI-enhanced bees that protect hives from predators, greenhouse tunnels, greenhouses on top of public transportation... whatever big idea they can think of.
- Keep a lookout on the news. There are often stories about companies whose terms are - at least in this day and age - outrageous. But what was once outrageous can become normalized. So that's a possible related topic of discussion.
[Question 19] (#18)
- We chose a fable for this question because they're easy to write. It's a basic story structure and most kids will be familiar with them. The idea here is not so much to celebrate the moral, but to go through various thinking processes: cause & effect, thinking strategically & solving problems (how does one express an opinion through narrative) and ultimately being persuasive.
Essentially, to write a fable, you need:
- A moral: this will anchor the narrative. (In this case, it's the writer's opinion of second chances.)
- A main character (or group): this character does not apply this moral to a situation they are going to face. This character will do the opposite of the moral.
- You can also have another character (or characters) who does live by the moral, but it's not necessary.
- Fable characters are often animals and/or elements of nature. But they don't have to be.
- A bad decision: the main character needs to make a decision or series of decisions that go against this moral.
- Severe and bad consequences: this will shows what happens when you do not follow the moral. (If there are other 'good' characters, then they are rewarded for their 'good' decisions)
- The moral is usually repeated at the end of the story, to really drive it home.
That's pretty much it. Simple, yet works the brain nicely.
- 20.1 | Cases can be made for a variety of responses here - thinking about things like disinformation, body issues, privacy, sleeplessness, anxiety, consumerism, even radicalization.
- 20.2 | FYI This is about getting kids to think strategically and to hear directly from them what they would do (which could be helpful for adults to learn as about!)
- 20.3 | Huge topic nowadays. All-around, this page goes nicely with Netflix's doc The Social Dilemma (not recommending it per se, just drawing the tie.)
- 22.1 | If kids are stuck here, you can think of this question in terms of one's personal experiences in everyday life. What are the things that make you more happy? For instance:
- Favourite food, playing Minecraft, socializing on/making videos for TikTok, going to the playground or sports facilities, artistic activities, fresh air, buying ice cream at a local shop, going to the zoo, etc.
- You can then generalize from there as to what makes people in general happy: good food, staying healthy, outdoor activities, a vibrant neighbourhood, social networks, opportunities to connect with others and to create, access to nature, etc.
- Note: another strategy is to identify what makes you personally unhappy and to work backwards from there. Feeling stressed, for example - what are the things that make you stressed (not having access to tech, not enough to eat, feeling lonely). Continuing to work backward, you can discern that access to resources, food, social networks, increase happiness.
- This can obviously get quite philosophical and political - but thinking tends to have that effect!
- 22.5 | This could be anything based on what the child/student values: an animal/nature index, a tech index, an education index. This one's about getting to think about things they value, and how they might make their city/town a better place.
- 23.3 | We included this question because it gets kids grappling with nuance, and contemplating the relationship between two opposing ideas. (The very thing that set you mentally free - the truth - is what restricted your physical freedom, ie, sent you to prison. Mind blown emoji here)
- This philosophical exercise can be a tall task when it comes to more complicated ideas, so we think it's good practice for what's to come later in life!