If we don't know what rung our students are on, it's very difficult to say which of the following two questions we should ask:
How are gas prices affected by unrest in the various oil-producing regions of the world?
How were gas prices affected during the Arab Spring in Egypt?
As a teacher, I like Question 1 better. It seems more open. It seems more, well, abstract. And to that student who has reached that rung on the ladder, he or she will be able to shine. Most teenagers can only be led there through Question 2 or something like it.