I love a good rhetorical question (“Why can’t every day be my birthday?” or “Is there no one who can save us from Super Villain X’s evil machinations?”). The whole point of a rhetorical question however is that the question is either unanswerable or the answer is self-evident (“Uh, it’s just not physically possible to have endless birthdays.” or “Obviously Super Hero Y will come and save the day!”).

It really bothers me when rhetorical questions are misused to incorrectly imply that something is unanswerable or self-evident as is the case in this blog post from #DadLife. He proudly details how his child plays an iPad game for ten whole minutes and then ends his post with a rhetorical question: “[D]id she get to do anything like this level of problem solving in her 7 hours at school today?”

The author is implying one of two things here and I am honestly not sure which one to go with:

  • He has no means of knowing what his daughter might have learned in school today.
  • It is obvious to everyone that his daughter did not learn anything of value in school today.
I reject both of these implications. Clearly he could have spent those ten whole minutes of iPad time engaging with his child directly to find our what she was learning in her time at school. He could also have spent ten whole minutes speaking with his child’s teacher about his child’s engagement and learning.
Both of these easy solutions make his rhetorical question seem like a lazy cop-out…which leads me to my own rhetorical question: “Does this parent seriously think that ten minutes on an iPad is better than talking to his child about her day at school or engaging in a meaningful way with her teacher?” The answer is, in this case, self-evident: This parent believes that ten whole minutes of iPad time are more insightful to him than engaging his child or her teacher directly.

#DadLife: I wonder….