Between instant messaging and dining by screen light, we are losing the art of conversation. At the end of a long day, talking over dinner feels like work. Here’s a way to make dinner conversations as simple and enjoyable as the meals you’re preparing.
First, choose a topic that has interest and inspires creative thinking. Then create a positive frame for it. For example, a national discussion topic is the achievement gap. Here’s how you might frame that for the family:
When some of the flowers in our garden aren’t blooming, we don’t try to change the flowers, we change their environment: nutrients, water, sun. Not all children bloom in our schools. Instead of trying to change them, we can change their environment.
Then, ask questions and be the last to answer them. Ask questions that inspire curiosity and creative thinking; invite everyone to be part of the solution. For example:
- What are your teachers doing to help every student bloom?
- When are you most alive and excited about learning? Tell me about a specific time; what did you value about yourself, other students, and your teacher?
- How can students help each other bloom? What strengths do you have that would help others?
- What three wishes do you have to make schools a place where everyone blooms?
Here are some additional topics and reframes to get you started:
- Anyone can come up with answers, but the sign of genius is asking great questions.
- What questions did you ask today?
- What are you most curious about?
- What disruptive questions might change the way we think about _______.
- Innovative solutions to some of our climate challenges are being discovered or developed daily, like fungi that decompose plastic and 3-D on-site building printing.
- What do we do in our daily living that contributes negatively to climate change?
- What are some ways we could decrease our negative impact right now?
- What technology innovation might allow us to keep doing what we’re doing and not have a negative impact?
- There are no problems in the world we cannot solve!
- If you could solve one problem in the world, what would you solve?
- What would be the outcome: how would you know you were successful?
- What are we already doing and what else might we do to achieve that?
Tonight, inspire a family dinner conversation. Make room for everyone’s voice, even young ones. Keep asking questions and creating space for the art of conversation to grow.