Are you more like a pencil or a school bus?
I love to ask people this question! I have asked it around the dinner table, to help a student prepare for an interview, on an airplane, in line at an amusement park, at gatherings, walking down the beach, and many more places to people both young and old. Mostly I just love to get people thinking and talking. I always ask them to give one reason to support their answer. I have heard plenty of interesting answers, the best being from my daughter who said she was sharp like a pencil but you never knew when she might snap!
If you think this is just a silly idea, let me explain. A question like this causes one to think about a pencil then to think about a school bus. Probably floods of memories come when they think about their own experience with buses or lack of experiences. Then they have to think about themself and what they want to review or hide about themself when they give an answer. Next they have to evaluate both options and analyze the object and themself. Lastly they have to make a judgement… are they more like a pencil or a school bus. Then they have to throw out an answer and hold their breath hoping that you’ll like or agree with their answer. All of that in about 30 seconds. They might buy more time if they blurt out that it’s a ridiculous question because then I’ll wait for them to think about their answer or prompt them a bit.
Where did you make your most important life decisions? Probably around a table. Probably after discussing with others. Probably after weighing the pros and cons. These kinds of conversations can be cultivated around your table, no matter who sits across from you. Start asking a few easy questions such as “Would you rather eat potato chips or ice cream?” or “Who makes you laugh?” Then slide in a few deeper ones such as “Which do you value more, a good home or a good career?” or “What advice would you give a younger student?” See where the conversations go. Critical and creative thinking skills can be coached. They don’t always happen overnight. Opening up your table to friends, family, and strangers is a great way to encourage good conversations, too.
Table Talk: Are you more like a pencil or a school bus?