The 5 W’s

The 5 W’s

I’m not sure where, or when, or even why I learned this, but there are 5 W questions to ask when gathering information.

Who, What, When, Where, Why

This has been the foundation for many a blog, or conversation with nobody in particular, or even considering a future project. I’m sure it was something taught as early as grade school when we were having to learn to write book reports. It may have even waited until Junior High as we struggled through scientific investigation. Perhaps it was a Journalism class in High School that really focused on this part of the alphabet. Regardless, there was a method to the madness.

  • Who was involved?
  • What happened?
  • Where did it take place?
  • When did it take place?
  • Why did that happen?

Of course, you never limit yourself to just these 5 W’s in researching a topic. You can even ask, “How” as in “How does something happen or work”.

This morning I was thinking about the way our mind works. Sometimes it’s intuitive when we make quantum leaps from this point to that point, but most of our knowledge comes from slogging through the morass of information to learn and grow.

These 5 W’s seem to be dated in historic lore as researchers looked for a systematic way of answering questions to expand one’s knowledge base, and it’s perhaps a thought that without such inquisitive minds we would know so much less than we know today.

According to Wikipedia: The “Five Ws” (and one H) were memorialized by Rudyard Kipling in his “Just So Stories” (1902), in which a poem accompanying the tale of “The Elephant’s Child” opens with:

I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.

This morning I teach, preach and reach and these 5 W’s, plus friends, give me my foundation for words to write and say. They are, perhaps, some of the most important words of life, and even maybe they are action words to use when life throws you a curve ball, hard pitch, slider, or a floater. Think about it…


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