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25 questions by Max Frisch - digital


The building block "25 questions by Max Frisch" encourages students to deal with very basic questions about technology and society, their own private lives, studies and career, teaching and research. The building block challenges existing structures and provides options for new and different ways of thinking. The participants reflect on their own values in individual work and discuss them with others.

In 1987, Max Frisch was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Technische Universität Berlin. Instead of a classic acceptance speech, he asked 25 questions. Max Frisch's questions are not intended to send the University in search of their answers. Instead, he wanted to use his questions to encourage a joint reflection and discussion within the university.

As a preparation, the participants ask themselves 5 questions each day of the week in individual work and write them in their learning journal. In the presence phase the participants exchange their questions in groups of four, possibly coming up with new ones, selecting particularly good questions and linking the questions to each other. Afterwards they read Max Frisch's questions and discuss them.

25 questions by Max Frisch - digital
Ask your own questions, 25 question asked by Max Frisch to the TU Berlin
Questions, answers, reflection
Perspective-taking, Cooperation, Participation, Motivating each other
Forms of Learning
creative, cooperative
writing flow, asking questions, cascade
Group Size
30 minutes
Material and Space
25 questions by Max Frisch
very good - basic building block in Berlin
Winter Semester 2020/21


Facilitators’ preparation

The facilitators read the text "25 questions for the TU asked by Max Frisch”. The facilitators think of questions they can give as an example in the “spotlight of questions”.

The facilitators cluster the questions from the participants' preparation and create a quantitative evaluation. The facilitators select individual questions and sort them according to TINS-D in order to point out rare questions. The facilitators anonymise all collected questions and publish them within the course. For this purpose, the facilitators proofread all questions once in order to avoid publishing private information.

Participants’ preparation

The participants write down 5 different questions every day. The task goes from Monday to Friday. After one week they have asked themselves 25 different questions. This task is intended as an exercise for the flow of writing. It should encourage participants to think differently from their usual thoughts and enable them to reflect on their own life in society.

Participants’ Follow - Up

Participants ask themself and other people 25 questions that get to the heart of what is important to them. Participants create their own questionnaire with 25 questions and submit it via a form. The questionnaires are then published under the chosen name/pseudonym/anonym.


Minute 00 - Introduction and questions


The facilitators briefly describe the character of questions in general: Questions show that one has no answer; there are no stupid questions, only stupid answers; at school and university one learns mainly to answer (exam) questions as quickly and correctly as possible, but not how to ask specific questions.


Schedule of today's session

  • 00:00 - Introduction
  • 00:05 - Flashlight of questions
  • 00:15 - Small group work
  • 00:35 - Final discussion and follow up

Overall aim of the building block

  • learn to ask questions
  • not all questions must be answered
  • reflection on the role of technology as an instrument in society

Minute 05 - Spotlight of questions


The facilitators briefly explain the procedure for the “Spotlight of questions”. All participants turn off their cameras. Each participant reads out at least one question he/she has asked during the week. If the participant wants to read out his/her question, s_he turns on her_is microphone and cameras. After the question has been asked, the camera is switched off again. The next participant turns it on. There is no particular order in which the participants read out their questions.


Spotlight of questions

  • please turn off your camera
  • get your questions you have been asking yourself during the week
  • If you want to read a question, turn on your camera and microphone.
  • read one question out loud
  • turn off your camera and microphone

Minute 15 - Group work - own questions and Max Frisch


The facilitators introduce the process of the small group work and form groups of four. Smaller and larger groups are also possible.

Background information on Max Frisch's 25 questions: In his speech at the award ceremony for an honorary doctorate on 29 June 1987, Max Frisch handed over 25 questions to the members of the Technische Universität Berlin. The questions are posed in such a way that they do not aim to be answered, but instead encourage reflection on one's own and society's life.

The questions primarily address the current role of technology in society as an instrument to rule over nature and humans. At the same time, however, they also call for an examination of personal values and their disclosure. In several questions Frisch takes up the survival of mankind and asks whether there is any serious interest in this on the part of the members of the Technische Universität Berlin. In addition, Max Frisch also questions the current lifestyle and mode of education.


Tasks - Group work - 20 minutes

  • Task 1 - Introduce yourself briefly through your own questions - 5 min
  • Task 2 - Read together the text “25 questions for the TU asked by Max Frisch” - 5 min
  • Task 3 - Discussion of own questions and those of Max Frisch - 10 min

Introduce yourself briefly through your own questions - 5 min Each person introduces themselves by formulating two or three questions one person starts and names the next person

Read 25 questions in turn to each other - 5 min

  • switch on all your microphones
  • you do not need to read the introduction text
  • read out loud Max Frisch`s questions
  • read out loud the questions number as well: Question 1, question 2 ...
  • a person starts : Question 1...
  • any other person continues: Question 2 …

25 questions for the TU asked by Max Frisch - 1987 On the occasion of the award of an honorary doctorate from the TU Berlin on 29 June 1987, Max Frisch asks the members of the TU Berlin 25 questions:

  • Question 1 - Are you sure that the preservation of humankind really interests you? Even when you and all the people you know are no longer alive?
  • Question 2 - If your answer is yes, why did you not act differently up until now?
  • Question 3 - What do you think has changed the human society more: the French Revolution or some technological invention such as electricity?
  • Question 4 - Considering everything that we owe today thanks to technological armament and development, such as the field of kitchen equipment, so are you thankful for the technologists and the ministers of defense who have been using our taxes to support the research of these technologists?
  • Question 5 - As a layman, what invention do you wish for? (keywords are sufficient)
  • Question 6 - Can you actually imagine the existence of mankind (that is: the first world) without a computer?
  • Question 7 - If yes: Do you feel terrified, nostalgic or nothing at all facing a computer, for there is nothing the computer cannot handle?
  • Question 8 - During your lifetime, which devices have been introduced to the market even when they were never needed throughout human history? Please name these devices without mentioning the manufacturers. Why do you buy these devices: a) for economic growth? b) because you believe the advertisement?
  • Question 9 - Dinosaurs survived 250 million years; how do you imagine an economic growth for 250 million years? (Keywords are sufficient)
  • Question 10 - If a technologist considers him/herself apolitical because he doesn’t give a damn which person in power uses his technological inventions: What do you think of this technologist?
  • Question 11 - Assuming you are satisfied with the present society, because there is no better society to be found: Do you think governments are necessary in the age of practical constraint, as the rulers invoke practical constraints anyway?
  • Question 12 - If someone heard of laser-rays and had no idea what they were, would you, honestly, as a scientist, take seriously the points of view of a layman and consider his/her political demonstration?
  • Question 13 - Do you believe in a republic of scholars?
  • Question 14 - When did technology stop easing the existence of mankind (as was the purpose of devices) and started creating a dominance over us? When did technology create a dominance over nature, which results in taking nature away from us?
  • Question 15 - Assuming that the catastrophe is avoidable, do you think that techno-mania is an irreversible process?
  • Question 16 - Can you imagine a society where scientists are responsible for crimes made possible because of their invention, i.e. a theocracy?
  • Question 17 - Assuming you are not only satisfied with the present society but you answer with tear gas when someone questions this society: Are you not afraid that men are inevitably getting dumber without a big utopia or do you feel so postmodern-comfortable because of that?
  • Question 18 - In terms of technological feasibility, what do you think today of the metaphor from the bible about the forbidden apple from the tree of knowledge? a) do you believe in the freedom of research? b) do you agree with the pope who condemned Galileo for proving that the earth turns around the sun?
  • Question 19 - Considering you are interested in the invention of a device that eliminates public lying: Who do you think would finance such audacious research?
  • Question 20 - Which invention would you not like to see invented?
  • Question 21 - Does it happen that a technological invention, once it is created, refuses a use that is not in the intention of the inventor?
  • Question 22 - Do you think that the current education of the human mind basically leads to self-extinction of our species?
  • Question 23 - What, if not wishful thinking alone, speaks against it?
  • Question 24 - Do you know what encourages you to do research?
  • Question 25 - As a scientist, do you believe in mature technology, meaning a technological research in the scope of a UNIVERSITAS HUMANITATIS, in german: Do you believe in the Technische Universität of Berlin?

Discussion of own questions and Max Frisch's questions - 10 minutes

  • the questions of Max Frisch and your own questions are worth the same
  • discuss your questions and the questions from Max Frisch with each other
  • comment and analyse your questions and the questions of Max Frisch

Key questions for the discussion

  • General
    • What are your favourite questions? Why are they your favourite questions?
    • Which questions are particularly stirring?
    • What are the differences between your questions and those of Max Frisch?
  • Mark Twains Hammer
    • Do you only have answers, but no questions?
    • Do you already have an answer to all questions? Where do the answers come from?

Minute 35 - Final discussion and follow-up


The facilitators call the participants back into the plenary. The facilitators start the group discussion with a short round of feedback from the small groups. If there is enough time left, the facilitators can do a short group discussion. The following questions can be used as guiding questions:

  • Does every question need an answer?
  • What is the value of (unanswered) questions?
  • What does it do to engineers when they are trained at university to answer questions for which the teachers already know the correct answer?



  • Pick three of your 25 questions from preparation that you can not answer
  • Post them in this Forum
  • Reflect not only in your learning journal but talk to:
    • What hinders me answering these three questions?
    • Do I want to answer these three questions?
    • How does it feel to not be able to answer these three questions?

Notes and Remarks

Authors’ Note

During the flashlight of questions, it is beneficial if the facilitators also prepare some questions, so that they can jump in if there is a silence. The building block can be used very flexibly in terms of time and method.

If this module is integrated into the further work of a course, it is a good idea to limit the possible question horizon by concentrating on a certain sub-area, e.g. technology and society, future, product life cycle

The questions can be taken up again in the course of a semester, for example to introduce the final discussion of the whole seminar

Further Notes

still to come


  • Max Frisch: Fragebogen; Suhrkamp, 1998 - In his diaries there are a number of questionnaires, each with 25 questions on a theme, for example, property, love, death. All the questionnaires from the diaries were compiled in the book mentioned above. The 25 questions to the TU Berlin are not included.
  • Anne Levin: Lernen durch Fragen: Wirkung von strukturierenden Hilfen auf das Generieren von Studierendenfragen als begleitende Lernstrategie;

Waxmann, 2005 - Here it is emphasised how important it is to ask questions oneself in order to learn, and it does not matter whether the questions are subsequently answered or not.

  • Neil Postman: Teaching as a Subversive Technique; Delta, 1971 - The school system in its current design is questioned. As a counter-draft, a procedure is designed that deals more with the questions of the learners.
  • Gregory Stock: The Book of Questions; Workman Publishing, 1987 - A compilation of several hundred questions on various topics.


Participants Preparation


By collecting 5 questions every day from Monday to Friday, the participants get into an exercise that trains their writing. Through this exercise participants reflect on their own life in society. In order to achieve a continuous engagement with their own questions, participants submit their questions once a day. A collective submission at the end of a day or after seven days is to be avoided.

The participants submit their questions via a form, ideally each question is entered in a separate field in order to achieve a clean separation of the questions for the evaluation. Alternatively, a collection can also be made by email.


Who - how - what - why - why - who does not ask remains stupid? - Ask yourself questions for a week - 1x5 questions per day - for 5 days From Monday to Friday, ask yourself at least 5 questions per day and enter them in the form. Choose questions that occupy you, that are on your mind, that others should ask themselves, that you would like to ask others but don't dare - remember, there are no stupid questions, only stupid answers. In the next session, all the questions collected up to that point will be published anonymously. You will present your most relevant questions in a small group and discuss them with your fellow students.

Participants follow up - Questionnaire with 25 questions from the participants


Participants create their own questionnaire with 25 questions and submit it via a form. The questionnaires are then published under the chosen name/pseudonym/anonym.


  • Create your own questionnaire with 25 questions
  • Based on the questions you asked, the questions from the other participants and the 25 questions from Max Frisch. Now ask yourself and other people 25 questions that get to the heart of what is important to you. They don't have to be long and elaborate questions, often a few words are enough to bring certain aspects to the point - or better, to a question mark.

Your questionnaire will be published within the course - choose under which name or pseudonym you want to publish your questions. In addition, you can choose whether your questionnaire will be published in general within Blue Engineering.