Questions are how we learn. From a very young age, curious children begin to ask, “Why?” That deceptively simple question captures their imagination and, if their natural curiosity is cultivated, begins a lifelong journey of unraveling the beautiful mysteries of our world. That’s what learning is.
At The City School, we challenge our students to learn through different kinds of questions. Some are direct—true/false, multiple choice, fill in the blank. Other questions are nebulous-by-design. They are questions too complex to answer in a single class period, year, or even lifetime. We call these Essential Questions.
Essential Questions teach students critical-thinking skills, research methodology, how to understand and compare competing philosophies, and how to craft a coherent worldview. Some of the Essential Questions you will find adorning the walls of our Rittenhouse campus are:
Is God rational?
How does darkness help you see?
Why are you a creator?
Who decides what is beautiful?
These questions force students beyond rote memorization into the domain of true learning. Rather than simply answering questions, students embrace, explore, and experiment with questions. They may never discover a full, satisfying answer, but the exploration itself is the art of learning.
Essential Questions affirm our childlike sense of wonder and refine our thinking so the ineffable “Why?” draws us nearer to truth. As our students graduate to college and begin to pursue their careers, they are prepared to thrive in a world of questions without easy answers. When no one else sees an answer, City School students see an opportunity to explore, to learn, to question.
And that’s essential.