SOLE Questions

The point of SOLE questions is to challenge the children and stimulate them into figuring and finding out the answers: for themselves, but not by themselves - once assigned to teams, they spontaneously work together. It's the self-organization or socialization that they do, the "society" and collegiate environment that they create, the fact of them doing all this organization on their own, that makes a SOLE workshop work.

Guidance from grownups is necessary at times; you don't want to take a dogmatic hands-off stance. I gave the children a question in Latin and they just stared at me. These particular American kids did not know the concept of "translation." So I taught them the vocabulary word, saying "When you take a sentence from one language and turn it into another language, that is called 'translating.'" And I wrote the word "translate" on the board. That was all they needed to then find Google Translate, and they were off and running.

Running a SOLE workshop is a bit of an art, but if you as leader neither over-involve yourself (suggestion - try always to see if there is a way to enable the children to succeed in finding out answers for themselves), nor absent yourself when you are needed (for example in case of a behavior prosblem), you will do just fine; the kids will do the rest. In a short while you'll hit your stride.

Here's a quote regarding questions from Dr. Mitra:

It is important not to 'aim low' and ask questions with easy answers. "How many countries are there?" can be typed word for word into a search engine and answered almost immediately.

I once asked a group of 10 year olds in the little town of Villa Mercedes in Argentina: Why do we have five fingers and toes on each limb? What's so special about five? ... The children arrived at their answer by investigating both theology and evolution, discovering the five bones holding the web on the first amphibians' fins, and studying geometry. Their investigation resulted in this final answer: The strongest web that can be stretched the widest must have five supports.
A different group of kids might come up with slightly, or even very, different answers. If they're missing a very important point, you might help direct their attention or inquiry. Otherwise you may just leave whatever they're missing out on, for a later time, another SOLE workshop, or even a different form of presentation or exploration of that topic (such as telling them a story or reading to them).

Here are some more SOLE questions you may ask. Many come from documents written by Dr. Mitra - others, I've added, found, and/or modified.