The Question Behind The Question

December 1, 2015
The Question Behind The Question

It is said that law school gives someone brain damage. And they don’t mean that you won’t be able to think anymore, I think they just mean that you’ll think differently from that point on. And I agree with that concept.

For instance, when someone asks me a question I tend to think of the question much differently than I did 25 years ago before I went to law school.

A great example of this is the question: “Oh, you homeschool, what about socialization? ” I now lack the ability to turn off my lawyer thinking because my lawyer thinking immediately identifies two separate assumptions underlying that question. And if I don’t agree with the assumptions on which the foundation of the question is based, then I can’t truly answer the question.

Assumption one in the “what about socialization?” question is that homeschoolers do not get socialization. Assumption two in that question is that socialization is something to be desired or is inherently good.

Taking the second point first, I disagree that socialization provided in a public school or private school is all necessarily good or desirous. Some of it is great. I am a child of public schools myself. My wife spent most of her time in private school. There is some of the socialization that occurs there that homeschoolers certainly miss. Football games, pep rallies, working on the school yearbook and chatting in the hallways or lockers are something that homeschoolers never really experience.

By the same token, homeschoolers are generally not ever the victim of being bullied, they are not subject to long boring classes that are not geared to their academic ability, they are not generally daily witnesses to drug use, foul language or fights.

Further, I take issue with the assumption that homeschoolers don’t get socialized. In fact, at least in our house, we have to set limits on the socialization that occurs. Between athletic classes and teams, church, mission trips, speech and debate tournaments, and shadowing adults doing real life every day, there is quite a bit of socialization.

It is true that in socialization no one is putting their head in the toilet or calling them names. In fact, instead, they’re exposed to trips to the bank and meeting with doctors and all kinds of other real life adult oriented activities. School just happens along the way. And regardless of where you stand on homeschooling, I think the question is illustrative of the issue that there are questions behind any question you’re asked.

For instance, when you go to buy a car the salesman generally asks, “how much do you want to pay each month?” Assumptions behind that question include: that you were going to not pay cash for the car, that you are going to do business with him, that you were going to choose to finance it at the lot, and that your monthly budget is the primary issue in the negotiation.

I got burned by one of these long ago where I asked a young boy in line if he “was excited about Santa coming to his house?” I was quickly informed by his mother that they did not celebrate Christmas at their home. The boy just looked so sad.

I had made an assumption behind the question. So the lesson is that if your assumptions are wrong, you cannot get the proper question asked and that you cannot get the proper question answered.

Funny version of this all started by the striking blonde reporter who is interviewing a marine at a firearms training facility on his base. It seems that some local Boy Scout troops were invited to come and work with professional Marines on their marksmanship skills in the safety and direction of a Marine base Firearms course.

The reporter, took issue with Marines training Boy Scouts on good marksmanship and accused him angrily that,” you are training these boys how to kill.” He tried to explain that firearm safety and marksmanship have nothing to do with killing other people.

Undeterred and louder she accused: “Admit it–You are equipping them how to kill”. When the marine could not get her to see the fallacy of her belief, he finally said, “ma’am you are equipped to be a prostitute, but I don’t think you are.”

It is important to understand the question behind the question. Those assumptions create the foundation on which every good question is based. But be careful, if you start understanding this too well you may think like a lawyer and nobody around you would want that.

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