\u22Why\u22 is a multi-purpose word. It is the language of curiosity, evidence of intellectual engagement. We revel in our children\u27s and our students\u27 whys; reward their curiosity with attention and serious responses; turn their whys back on them-\u22why do you think?\u22-to stimulate independent thought, reflection. \u22Why\u22 is also a language of attention getting, even harassment. One of my favorite cartoons-I think it\u27s from The New Yorker, perhaps by Ogden Nash-shows a small child leaning forward from the back seat close to his driving father\u27s ear. The conversation must have been the familiar one with a bored four-year old on a car trip: \u22Why aren\u27t we there yet?\u22 \u22Why are you going so slow?\u22 \u22Why does Grandma live so far away?\u22 and so on, and on. The caption at the bottom gives the harassed father\u27s response: \u22Shut up, he explained.\u2
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