Essential questions are, as Grant Wiggins defined, ‘essential’ in the sense of signaling
genuine, important and
inquiries.” These are grapple-worthy,
substantive questions that not only require wrestling with, but are worth wrestling
with–that could lead students to some critical insight in a
sense of the
I noticed that quite a few of them were closed/yes or no questions, so I went back and
revised some of them, and added a few new ones, something I’ll try to do from time to
Or maybe I’ll make a separate page for them entirely. Or, who knows. Nonetheless,
below are many, many examples of essential questions. Most are arts & humanities, but
if this post proves useful, we can add some STEM inquiry to the mix as well. Let me
know in the comments.
Decisions, Actions, and Consequences
What is the relationship between decisions and consequences?
How do we know how to make good decisions?
How can a person’s decisions and actions change his/her life?
How do the decisions and actions of characters reveal their personalities?
How do decisions, actions, and consequences vary depending on the different
perspectives of the people involved?
What is social justice?
To what extent does power or the lack of power affect individuals?
What is oppression and what are the root causes?
How are prejudice and bias created? How do we overcome them?
What are the responsibilities of the individual in regard to issues of social
How can literature serve as a vehicle for social change?
When should an individual take a stand against what he/she believes to be an
injustice? What are the most effective ways to do this?
What are the factors that create an imbalance of power within a culture?
What does power have to do with fairness and justice?