If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.” ~Albert Einstein An essential question asks about something that you can prove with evidence. An essential question should be the product of your own critical thinking and some background reading.
Essential Questions in History and Social Studies As a result of comparing essential and nonessential questions and studying the additional examples, you should now have an idea of what makes a question "essential." Here are seven defining characteristics.
A good essential question How does your working definition compare?
Such questions are broad in scope and universal by nature. Essential questions of this type are common and perpetually arguable.
We may arrive at or be helped to grasp understandings for these questions, but we soon learn that answers to them are provisional or more varied than we might have imagined.
This book is about a particular kind of question—one we call "essential." So, what makes a question "essential"?
Let us begin by engaging you in a bit of inquiry using the following concept-attainment exercise to examine the characteristics of an essential question.
Questions that meet all or most of these criteria qualify as essential.
These are questions that are not answerable with finality in a single lesson or a brief sentence—and that's the point.
The exercise has three parts, as explained in the next several paragraphs.
First, examine the questions in the two columns and try to determine the distinguishing characteristics of the ones labeled "Essential" compared to those labeled "Not Essential." What traits do the essential questions have in common? Second, look at these additional examples, organized by subject area, to spark your thinking and clarify the qualities of essential questions, or EQs.