Sunday Spark: The Power of a Question

WhBiz Stone - Twitterat impact would it have on students if they stopped doing homework?

What is the value of homework?

Those are big, hairy, audacious, and possibly frightening questions but questions that teachers of Biz Stone were forced to answer.

Biz Stone, one of four Twitter co-founders, found himself running straight from school to lacrosse practice, then work for a couple of hours, forcing him to start his homework at 8 PM. He continued working on his homework until 4 AM in the morning. The cycle continued until one day; he decided that the cycle wasn’t working for him. He realized that he wanted to implement a “No Homework Policy.”

Excerpt from Things a Little Bird Told me: Confessions of a Creative Mind:

My plan was simple. I would work as hard as possible to pay attention and be completely focused in each class, but I would not bring my books home, and I would not do any of the homework assigned to me. If the homework was intended to reinforce what was taught in class, I would be fine—because I would make sure to absorb it all during the school day.

Most of his teachers told him his final grade might suffer, but he was ok with the consequence. Ultimately, in the end, his grades didn’t suffer. He listened attentively in class and in the end, received a scholarship.

How would you react to the questions above?

It is ok to be uncomfortable. Good questions can bring discomfort but lead to self-discovery and innovation.

How I found inspiration from a single question

In December of 2016, my superintendent, curriculum director, and I listened to Yong Zhao, a professor and author, speak on the topics of Education Creative and Entrepreneurial Students. His latest work is a three-part book series, The Take-Action Guide to World Class Learners, and he’s a Foundation Distinguished Professor at the University of Kansas. Yong, one of the best speakers I’ve ever heard, provided rich content flawlessly delivered while we listened attentively. He talked to us about the importance of students solving real-world problems, creating a school within a school, focusing on student’s strengths and ultimately retooling the American educational system. After he finished, we headed to lunch. While at lunch the superintendent looked at us and said,

“How can we accomplish this in our district?”

I heard the question, and the gears in my head went into overdrive brainstorming possible ways our district accomplish this task. My creative neuron soldiers received their marching orders. This broad, audacious question pushed me to think deeply and critically. There was an element of, I want my superintendent to be impressed and an element of, this is a big hairy problem, and I want to help solve it.

From that single question, I built the Sustainable Innovation Framework. First, I built a quick Google Drawing to receive feedback from my professional success champions. Then, I refined it and created the final product, also shown below.

First DraftSustainable Innovation


Most importantly, that single question inspired me. It inspired me to create and ultimately, begin writing. The ideas swirled in my head so quickly, writing them down yielded the only release. The words continued to flow, and months later, I persist in my quest for innovation and the retooling education.

What questions can you ask to change your life and the lives of your students? As you think of compelling questions:


Be bold.

Stretch yourself.

Inspire others.

Make the world a better place!



Source:  “The no-homework policy (excerpt from Twitter founder Biz Stone’s book).” 3 Apr. 2014, Accessed 1 Apr. 2017.