Quests and Ions

It may be because I am so excited to begin reading my next #SummerReading text, A More Beautiful Question, or it may be because at Mount Vernon, “inquiry” is part of our mission statement  but the word “question” has been on my mind recently. If you take the word at face value, a question is a problem worth investigating or a matter of uncertainty. But if you break the word in half, you get “Quest” and “Ion.” A quest is a search or pursuit, and if you look at this word on Dictionary.com, the second definition alludes to an “adventurous expedition,” something like the search for the Holy Grail. As someone who loves literature, I’m struck by this example because I see the search for the Hoy Grail as something that can go on forever; the Grail can also mean different things to different people. My Holy Grail is probably not the same as yours. I wonder what would happen if we let our students go on more quests to find their “Holy Grails” or at least go on adventurous expeditions to figure out something new.

The word ion is the Greek ἰόν, ion, “going”, the present participle of ἰέναι, ienai, “to go”. To go. Let’s go on a quest to find an answer to a problem I’ve been curious about…Let’s go on a quest to find out why… Or, if you look at it through the lens of science, an ion is an electrically charged particle. An ion has positive or negative charge depending on whether it has gained or lost an electron. What if the questions learners asked were amplified (positively charged) by own curiosities? 

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