“Asking Powerful Questions”


Starfish Scholars spend the bulk of their time listening, whether it is lessons from their parents or instruction in school. They are constantly in a state of learning by taking in information that is given to them. But another approach to helping Starfish Scholars learn about themselves and how they interact with the world around them is by asking powerful questions.

Powerful questions are provocative queries that put a halt to evasion and confusion. By asking powerful questions, the mentor invites the scholar to clarity, action, and discovery at a whole new level. The questions below are examples of powerful questions that are typically open-ended and create a great possibility for expanded learning and fresh perspective:

  • What is the lesson you could take out of this?
  • What is the worst possible outcome that could occur if you make this decision?
  • What are the risks if you do and if you do not?
  • What one thing could you do in this situation that scares you?
  • What support do you need to accomplish this?
  • What do you think that means?
  • What resources are available to you?
  • What if it doesn't work?
  • What are your other options?
  • What are the 3 steps to achieve that?
  • How can I be most helpful to you right now?
  • What is your strategy for that?

Utilizing powerful questions like these can open your Scholar to a world of self-awareness and self-actualization. Use casual conversation as teaching moments to practice asking your Scholar powerful questions. Allow the scholar to work through the process of evaluation, planning, exploration, anticipation, etc, on their own.

Asking powerful questions also provides another benefit – it prevents you from sounding like someone lecturing them. Instead, the scholar is providing the information and working through the thought process. This will also give the scholar ownership in the ultimate decision because he/she will have had come to the best possible decision on their own. This will teach the scholar to question, investigate, evaluate and decide on the best possible solution using all the information available. These skills will prove extremely beneficial throughout high school and beyond.

References Kimsey-House, Henry, Kimsey-House, Karen, Sandahl, Phillip. (2011) Co-Active Coaching.

Delaney, Ben. (2014) Powerful Questions.

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