The Best Question Comes from a Third-Grader

By Nelson, Todd R. | The Christian Science Monitor, August 3, 2004 | Go to article overview

The Best Question Comes from a Third-Grader


Nelson, Todd R., The Christian Science Monitor


I've been thinking a lot about interview questions lately, having recently gone through a stimulating interview process to be a K-8 principal. You have to answer a lot of questions in order to be a school principal, and I love a good question - better than a good answer, sometimes.

But my favorite question wasn't asked during my job interview. The search committee asked well thought-out questions about communications, code of conduct, and educational standards. They asked for examples of my past successes and failures, and listened to stories of my favorite school experiences. They asked questions I would have asked in their position, and they learned a lot of substantive things about me.

They did not, however, ask me the most important question: "Do you know what Pokemon is?"

I mean no disrespect to the committee, but this crucial question was asked a few days after my interview by Joey, and it got me thinking in a new vein. While meeting me for the first time, he took the opportunity to learn some vital information. Joey's going to be a third-grader.

I have heard of Pokemon cards, and the characters, movies, and cable TV shows that are part of the Pokemon universe. But I could not tell you the story of Ash and Pikachu without research. Sure, I can Google "Pokemon" and learn that "Pokemon are creatures of various size and special powers that inhabit this world, coexisting with humans." I can figure out all the names, brands, media outlets, and commercial implications of the fantasy characters. But that would be answering my question about Pokemon, not figuring out what it means to Joey. The fact that it was the most important question he could think of to ask when introduced to his new principal, started me thinking.

Pokemon reminded me of other card-character collecting fascinations I've encountered during my school career. Does anyone remember Pogs? …

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