What’s Your Essential Question for 2015?

February 1, 2015

Yesterday I sent out a post on Facebook. It was about the Golden Globe-winning Amazon show, Transparent. I said, "I am so inspired by the real-ness of the characters and the courage of Maura, played by Jeffrey Tambor. Line of the day – ‘Baby, you need to get in the whirlpool or get out of it.’ Ain’t that the truth."

I find so much courage in this deeply authentic and courageous storyline of a man who wants to live as woman and he is living this truth out loud. Several people responded to my post. My cousin, a movie and TV critic, Marshall Fine, (find his reviews at Hollywood & Fine), responded with an affirmation and two other suggestions of TV shows to watch. Another person commented on how she too was binging on it and found it incredibly powerful. Another said she’d give it a try. And then another comment came in. I had put a hyphen in the word, "real-ness," and the person couldn’t ‘get past’ the hyphen in my post.

Huh? As I say often, this is someone whose emPHAsis is on the wrong syllAble. Moving on…


As I move into the new year, I am taking an idea to heart from my colleague, Dana Carmichael. Dana works for The The Center for Authentic Intellectual Work. I have a pic here from our time together at a Learning Omnivores Conference (email me if you are intrigued by the idea of a conference of that title). We are with Alaska-based Tonio Verzone, a self-identified ‘Learning Architect‘ (love it!). Talk about two self-directed, self-authoring folks.

Dana shared with me that for some time she has crafted an essential question for herself to study in the upcoming year. She then reads about the topic, and watches films that relate to it, listens to speakers who offer learnings around it, etc. She delves into the study of that one question. She percolates, marinates, cogitates…she learns deeply and authentically. In 2011, the question was "What is honor? How do you get it? How do you keep it?" In 2012, her question was "What is power? Who has it?" This year her question is "How do I live the joy of the journey?"

Conversations with Dana and her inspiration have led me to my question for the year (my first iteration).

Based on a Dhan Gopal Mukerji’s quote in the 2015 Zen calendar…

How can I live courage, breathe courage, and give courage?

So this year, metaphorically and literally, I am not going to focus on a ‘hyphen’ problem in my writing. Grammar be damned, I am going to continue to share what moves me, openly express my thoughts, and support others to find their voice. What’s your essential question?

If you have any questions, comments or topic suggestions, please feel free to call me, 650-868-1916 and we can Face Time, Skype me at jenniferabrams, or email me at jennifer@jenniferabrams.com and we can set up a time to talk voice to voice. I look forward to hearing from you!

Cool Resources


I was proud to be recognized by Peter DeWitt in his Education Week’s "Finding Common Ground" blog as one of 18 Women All K-12 Educators Should Know. Peter’s blog is a great one to check out, along with all the links he provides to the work of the women he featured.

National School Reform Faculty has excellent "protocols and activities for more meaningful and efficient communication, problem solving and learning." Please seek out their free resources. I so admire their work.

I have a set of books on my shelf that I have yet to get to, but instead of linking to them I am taking a picture of their titles. See if something jumps out at you and Google it. So many books, so little time.