The Essential Questions

Essential Questions


Essential Questions open discussions about life’s big issues: death, doubt, trust, honesty, vanity, conflict, courage, marriage, identity, sense of purpose, ethics, race, gender, loyalty, friendship, hypocrisy, kindness, greed, ambition, money, cruelty, betrayal, honor, integrity, stereotypes, temptation, faith, addiction, creativity. They don’t have easy answers.

Subject-Based Essential Questions

In every subject, there are big themes to explore. What does science teach us about testing our ideas? What does the Civil War show us about how economics pressures can affect morality? How can graphs be used to exaggerate and persuade? (And many more).

Getting Started (Examples and Sentence Stems)What makes a strong friendship?


  • How do I deal with the loss of a friend?
  • When do [ideas or political issues or finances] become more important than family loyalties?
  • What can I learn about [?] from the novels we read in school?
  • How can I be a better friend?
  • What will the consequences of [X} be?
  • Why do people [do X]?
  • What is the connection between [?] and [?]?
  • How could [?] help us?
  • Why do we still [?} when we know the consequences.
  • What does [?] teach us about life?
  • How can [?] affect us?
  • Why do we need [?]?
  • How does [?] benefit society?
  • Is [?] essential for humanity’s survival?
  • How does [?] apply to our real world?
  • How has [?] affected our society?
  • What makes us who we are?
  • How much should we care about what our culture tells us to be?
  • How much should people worry about fitting in?
  • What is the purpose of art in our lives?
  • How honest we should be?
  • How should we balance freedom and being responsible?
  • How do we balance privacy and security?
  • When is it right to put limits on freedom?
  • Are people basically good (or evil)?
  • Have right and wrong changed over time?
  • How much does our culture shape what we think is good or evil?
  • How does the media shape the way we view the world and ourselves?
  • How is language be powerful in our lives?
  • How do the words we use change the way we think, act, and see the world?
  • What effects does fiction have on people?
  • What would you be willing to make sacrifices for?
  • How much can people change?
  • How do we know whether something is really true?
  • Why do people think so hard about the future?
  • Why do people study the past?
  • What do we need to be truly happy?
  • How does the media change what people need to be happy?
  • How important is it to be part of a community?
  • Why did that person succeed when others did not?
  • How do we balance nature and the human world?
  • What does it mean to be [honest/brave/faithful/a friend/etc.]?
  • How would our culture be different without [?]?
  • How has [?] changed through time?
  • How is [?] like and unlike [?]?
  • Why do we have to [fight wars, lie, cheat]?
  • Do we have to fight wars?
  • How should I treat my friends?
  • Why did the author include [?] in this article?

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