“He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever.” Chinese proverb
Did you know that the world’s greatest inventor Thomas Edison was yanked out of school by his mom after a teacher complained that Edison asked too many questions? Wasn’t that so silly? How can someone ask too many questions? Well, the world is surviving on curiosity. Doubts and questions make the world go round. Problems can’t be resolved without asking questions, and even if something fantastic is discovered by accident (like penicillin) the process would have never start without someone asking a question.
Here are a few questions that came from masterminds and changed the way we live forever. Read on; it’s interesting.
Newton: “Why does an apple fall from a tree but, why does the moon not fall into the Earth?”
Darwin: “Why do the Galapagos Islands have so many species not found elsewhere?”
Einstein: “What would the universe look like if I rode through it on a beam of light?”
The list is endless.
Of course, I am not implying one should simply ask question after question, without giving any thought to answers. Such a method seems insincere in the question-asking. Not all the questions may be worth exploring, but for every dozen, there’s a golden one that causes us to wonder. The questions have the power to take us into an idea or answer we hadn’t yet explored.
Why Don’t We Ask Questions? Why’s Everybody Scared?
Why do we stop asking ‘why’? For some people, the reason is that they are lazy. They assume they are smart and know all the things. They stick to their beliefs of their intelligence and remain certain in their assumptions – yet they often end up looking foolish. On the other hand, many people are afraid that by asking questions they will look weak, ignorant or unsure. They fear that asking questions might portray them in a poor light. Finally, some people are in such a hurry to get done with things that they do not stop to ask questions because it might slow them down.
Asking questions is a sign of strength and intelligence – not a sign of weakness or uncertainty. Great leaders constantly ask questions and are well aware that they do not have all the answers. Intelligent questions stimulate, provoke, inform and inspire.
A Tough Nut to Crack—Sometimes
Well, asking questions takes practice. The more you practice, the more you understand. What’s interesting is why it’s necessary. The truth is, we don’t always understand each other. It’s not that humans don’t communicate well. It’s just that everyone listens and hears differently. Understanding concepts in a classroom can be difficult when you talk to a large group, like teachers do. They don’t always speak in the order, speed, or detail that every student wants. It’s simply the way things are. What can we do? We need to encourage questioning skills in students. Good questioners inherently become good listeners. Everybody wins.
So, why exactly are we hell-bent on proving to you that questions are important? What are the benefits of students being able to ask questions? That’s another good question ;-). Wow, where do you start? The short answer is: think about the benefits, not the consequences. Trust me, “there are no stupid questions?” It’s really true. Asking good questions can:
- Foster critical thinking skills
- Boost self-confidence
- Enhance creativity
- Develop communication skills
- Make you a good listener
- Encourage others to ask questions
- Open your mind to other opinions/beliefs
- Protect you from making mistakes
- Lead you to new discoveries
- Help you make better choices/decisions
Let me assure you: the art of asking good questions isn’t lost. It never will. If we give students the permission to be curious and creative, they will think and question in a way that helps them become better thinkers. They will get to strive for deeper knowledge and more meaningful answers. They will get to grow in mind, body, and spirit. And you, dear teacher, get to help them make it happen.
So, go ahead and question. Be a 3-year-old all over again. Love the discovery. Stay curious.
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