Your critical question should focus on the first half of Water by the Spoonful only. Here is my definition of a critical question:

  • A question that doesn't have an obvious answer (such as "When was the play written?" which anybody can easily look up and answer).
  • A question that students in the class can answer (in other words, a question that doesn't rely on information not available in the text, such as biographical information or information about the time period).
  • A question that can have multiple answers.
  • A question that stimulates thought and discussion. This is the hardest characteristic, but if you think of a question that is genuine (i.e., that you don't know the answer to), you are on the right track.
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    Your instructor's goal here is seemingly to facilitate some discussion about the work you are studying. Spending some time writing questions that are text-dependent yet can't be answered in a word or two helps you process the conflict and characters on a deeper level.

    Good questions that foster critical thinking might begin with why, how, or what would happen if ... ? You'll have to check to see where the "first half" ends according to your instructor, but a good question might look something like this:

    • Why is Fountainhead's arrogance so frustrating for Orangutan and Chutes&Ladders?
    • What does their treatment of Fountainhead reveal about the values of Orangutan and Chutes&Ladders?
    • What irony is there in Orangutan's comment that she "was never one to actually have an experience"?
    • What is the purpose of Chutes&Ladders's recollection of the time he nearly drowned?
    • What about Fountainhead's comments leads you to believe in his sincerity?
    • What do you think happened next to Fountainhead based on his self-assessment?

    I hope these questions give you more to think about as you develop your own critical questions. You will note that none of these questions can be answered with a simple yes or no, they can all be answered based on the text, and people will have various answers depending on how they interpret the conflict and characters.

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