Mr Broadbent
Head of Teaching and Learning

Education is full of questions. Teachers regularly ask students questions in class and set questions for homework. Our assessments are full of questions, and one of the last things the girls will do at Meriden is sit in a large hall and answer the questions in their HSC exams.

There are many what questions in school. Our attempt to get through the day relies heavily on them: What day is it? What do I have in Period 1? What am I having for lunch? If we cannot answer the question, we are in trouble. For example, there is no point in rushing off to school if it’s a Sunday.

There are also many what questions in our learning: What is two plus two? What is the Capital of Iceland? What are the causes of World War I? We cannot claim to be truly educated without good answers to the many what questions. Imagine if you left Meriden without knowing what two plus two was.

Last week, I was reminded of one of my favourite what questions from Science: What happens when you add an acid to a metal? I have a clear memory of doing this experiment in school and being delighted at the hydrogen gas I was able to generate… and then explode.

As I began to learn some of the answers to the what questions about Hydrogen, I became increasingly aware of the importance of the why questions.

Hydrogen has several properties that make it a particularly interesting gas, including its potential use as an alternative fuel. So, in attempting to answer the question: ‘Why would we make hydrogen?’ the answer could be as exciting as: ‘…because it will save the planet.’

However, there is another reasonably famous use for hydrogen. After the first generation of nuclear weapons, scientists developed the hydrogen bomb, far more powerful than the atomic weapons of World War II. Perhaps another reason why we make hydrogen would be to increase our ability to destroy cities.

As we seek to make progress, we will always need to find answers to the what questions. Asking the why questions is even more important.

If we never take the time to ask why, we might never see the great value in the things we are learning, or, even worse, we might be helping each other become more destructive.