Have you ever been in a class or a lecture where you have been assured by the speaker that there are no stupid questions? This might usually be followed by an exception, of course. The general meaning is that all questions will be welcomed, you will not be judged based on the questions you have about the material.
Ha Bloody Ha. Yea right.
I have learned by being both a question asker and a question answerer in my lifetime that there are stupid questions… and rightly or wrongly you will be judged for asking them. Who has heard that saying- there are no stupid questions just stupid people? *Eyeroll* Guh how I hate that one. There are no stupid people; there are badly answered questions. I say!
And now that I’m in full time re-education, I find this fact less than amusing.
Personally, I have great big gaps in my knowledge. (I reckon both an unreliable long-term memory and a flaw in the teaching/learning methods throughout my lifetime). The horrible thing about knowledge gaps is the conundrum; I don’t know what I don’t know.
On a recent assignment, I had attempted a question about a crane (forces and loads) a few times. There was some unusual geometry involved and ultimately that was where my misunderstanding lay. I had somehow understood the difficult concepts and equations but was ultimately foiled by the inability to draw a triangle correctly!!! Frustrating yes, but a relatively quick fix in the end. Not that it felt like an easy fix through the many hours I laboured over it. I asked questions. I pestered. I was even turned away by my lecturer via email… basically told “I have 260 students- go away and leave me alone.” I kind of envy the crotchety professorness going on there….. however, as a student…. ARGHGHGHG you sonofa! I hope you spill all the coffee on all the things!!!!
So many times in life it is just one tiny piece of missing information that causes the wall of confidence to crumble, though. It only takes some bully kid when you are ten to make you feel so utterly devoid of basic human intelligence when you ask a simple question that you dare not raise your hand for the next eight years, missing vital information about the world around you thus making the ordinary utterly mysterious. You then venture into adulthood wondering what it all means… or maybe instead you just binge on Netflix and idly saunter closer to death… either way.
I say that Judgy McJudgerson can stuff it you guys because we need to ask stupid questions so that we can wade through to the “smart” questions.
And here is the reason why.
A bunch of “smart” guys (for the record there were also some women… an amount you could count on one hand…sigh) started figuring out electromagnetism at the turn of the last century- we’re talking almost 100 years ago right. Those smart guys went on to work out quantum mechanics. Then their theories started being tested and now we have iphones and nuclear reactors (in addition to a million other awesome things which otherwise would not exist). Our kids have to get THERE faster because we are GOING there faster. The generations alive now are the product of great thought and understanding. And although we possess their work and their contributions, its not enough. Their work remains incomplete.
I’m not saying 5-year-olds should be learning quantum mechanics… but … but maybe 5-year-olds should be learning quantum mechanics. A lifetime is pretty short and it seems to me we’ve got no time to waste. Our world has some pretty epic problems. The only way to solve them is to start… and the only way to start is with a stupid question.
I can hear you thinking it, what’s quantum mechanics??? LOl I’m glad you asked. Well….