Nothing New Under the Sun

A few years ago a thought occurred to me that I believed was an original and clever insight on my part. I was discussing standardized testing (one of my pet subjects) and I said something to the effect that I cared more about what questions kids ask than what answers they give. I’ve repeated this a few times over the years with modifications. “Your questions say more about you than your answers.” “We need to teach students to ask questions more than to give answers.” Always attributing the quote to myself. That all ended yesterday, when I was reading up on Voltaire and came across this:

“Judge of a man by his questions rather than by his answers.”

Oh. I suppose a few billion people before me did have the opportunity to stumble across this bit of wisdom. What makes it even richer is that within an hour of reading the above sentence from Voltaire, I chanced on the following quotation from Alfred North Whitehead:

“Everything of importance has been said before by somebody who did not
discover it.”