Student Post: Refining an Essential Question

6 May

I can’t tell you my name, but I am a junior in Ms. Donhauser’s Honors British Literature course. I want to talk about my experience with the Inquiry Learning Plan and my search for an essential question; through my irritation and sense of utter defeat, I broke through to find something worth studying. It began in class with me being consumed by my despair; I had no good essential questions on my learning plan and I was stressed that my activities were due with no real EQ that seemed useful. The only question I had was “How dangerous is humanity’s thirst for knowledge?” The only problem was that I was dead in the water with my question; it was more of a guiding question rather than a good topic to study. I felt this question was specific to my text; it didn’t relate to what I wanted to pursue in this unit. I had to continue my research for a more overarching question but I felt hopelessly lost in my texts…until…

The Monster in Frankenstein is never accepted by humanity, and never accepted by his creator, Dr. Frankenstein, who is a pioneer in his quest for immortality; he fails to accept his creation because he does not know the outcome and it ends up less than ideal. Looking through Frankenstein,  I realized this book is not about just knowledge, but how knowledge helps us change and that we need to accept those changes. This intrigued me. The Monster is a product of overreaching, surpassing an invisible barrier of what is natural in society; over time, whenever something new is introduced to humanity, the public hesitates to accept what they do not understand. Then it hit me: it is only when we understand, that we can accept. Frankenstein can’t accept his creation because he refuses to accept what is unnatural; according to the knowledge of the time, Frankenstein’s experiment goes against the laws of reason, nature, and religion. A contemporary example is homosexuality; while still controversial, as we learn more, it is becoming more accepted, and humanity is growing more tolerant of this emerging community. But before society grew more tolerant, it was viewed by some to be an act worthy of damnation, just as the Monster is. The Monster, while grotesque and blatantly unnatural for humanity’s standards, also is clever and dangerously human. The creature could have integrated if Dr. Frankenstein accepted it and others did, but discontent with its unnatural form disturbed humans. Another idea that pushed me to my conclusion is Frankenstein’s struggle with death; like him, a majority of people fear death because they do not understand what happens when they die. Ultimately, I changed my questions to, “How do humans accept change?” and “What does it take for us to accept new ideas and creations?”

A culmination of my frustration and my sudden spark of intrigue led me to a whopping discovery and it was only through my own process and my own thoughts that I was able to achieve a new path to follow with my research.

2 Responses to “Student Post: Refining an Essential Question”


  1. Teachers as Learners: Key to the ILP | Letting Go - June 10, 2013

    […] ILP requires this type of participation and modeling. Students are asking their own questions and learning how to revise their learning plans as they go.  They are designing their own activities and reflecting on their learning.  Teachers must be […]

  2. Why School? – Letting Go - October 13, 2018

    […] and then plan their own paths to answering them.” Students are asking their own questions and learning how to revise their learning plans as they go. They are designing their own activities and reflecting on their learning. Clearly, the ILP, and […]

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