Sarah was a studious and curious girl. Her mind was always active, with a lot of questions always popping up there all the time. But she would mostly remain quiet and suppress her curiosity in class as she was afraid that her peers and teachers would think her questions stupid and make fun of her.
This feeling had developed when once or twice, quiet early in her life, her brother had said she asked stupid questions just because she had not understood something and had asked to be explained something very basic. And since then she had begun
to refrain from asking questions in class as well, fearing that her class fellows, too, would consider her questions and hence herself stupid. To some extent, she would satisfy her curiosity through books in her school library.
One of her teachers, Miss Nida, noticed her visiting the library often and wondered what she was looking for, because the way she was poring over books it seemed as if she was looking for the explanation to something she had not understood in class. But why didn’t she ask questions in class like other students, her teacher wondered. She called Sarah to the staff room when no other teacher was there and encouraged her to discuss with her if she had a problem. Sarah told the teacher why she was afraid of asking questions in class.
Miss Nida told her that she should not hesitate to ask questions as teachers are there to satisfy students’ curiosity and if anyone made fun of her, she should tell them that it is the right way to know what is not clear. Miss Nida further told her that there was no such thing as a ‘stupid question’ and that we will never learn anything if we are afraid of asking questions.
The teacher also told her that there is a day known as ‘Ask a Stupid Question Day’, which encourages students to overcome their fear of sounding ignorant and increasing their knowledge by asking questions that they may have considered stupid.
‘Ask a Stupid Question Day’, celebrated on September 28, was created during the 1980s by a group of teachers who wanted to encourage students to ask more question in the classroom. In a class, there are usually only a few students who feel comfortable asking questions (even replying to the questions posed by the teacher), while most of the students feel nervous and hesitate raising their hands to ask something. Though among them are few bright one who didn’t need to ask, most would not do so thinking that others would consider their question to be stupid and everyone would laugh at them.
Many people don’t realised that asking questions is an important part of the learning process; it’s very difficult to learn without asking questions. Realising this, some teachers began to give importance to encourage students to feel comfortable enough to ask anything they want.
By creating a day dedicated to letting students ask the questions they were most ashamed of, the teachers wanted to make the classroom a place where students could open up and share their curiosity with their fellows without the fear of being ridiculed. Since its conception, the ‘Ask a Stupid Question Day’ has not only become an annual tradition in US schools, but has also gained recognition in the UK and elsewhere in the world.
Kids should be encouraged not to hold back, fearing their question to be a stupid one. In fact, they should ask questions whenever they are uncertain of anything, especially whilst they are learning.
It’s not just that students should be asking their teachers questions, but also other adults, such as parents, elder siblings and other members of the family, even friends. And they should be encouraged to ask whoever they think can satisfy them. The best way to encourage someone to ask questions they think may sound stupid is to ask such questions yourself. Parents shouldn’t shy away from asking their friends or someone else something, even if they think it is very basic and can be taken as stupid. In fact, parent can ask their children basic questions just to encourage them to ask. And seeing them ask such questions, children will not hesitate from asking what’s on their mind.
Asking also gives rise to debates, especially if a public platform or social media is used, and sometimes very constructive solutions to basic problems come to light. If you are in the habit of asking questions from an early age, then you will not hesitate in asking something in later life as well.
When questions arise in your mind or you get curious about anything, don’t hesitate in asking, whether you are addressing your teacher, parents, or any elder and even friends. It not only provides you with the answer to that question, but you can also get some extra information and you will be encouraged to ask more.
Asking is a learning process. When you ask ‘why’, even if you may not sometimes get a direct answer, you would be advised and encouraged to explore, observe and try out different things to get the answer to your question. This way you will also learn to observe and explore. The more questions you ask, the better answers you get. Not suppressing your curiosity will also open up your mind and increase your knowledge, making you wiser in the process.
Wise people say that there is no such thing as a stupid question, except the one you chose not to ask. One will not learn anything if they do not ask any questions. To learn something, the first step is to ask and for that you will have to overcome your fear of sounding stupid and asking whatever comes to your mind.
So, use this ‘Ask a Stupid Question Day’ as an opportunity to speak up and ask all those questions that you thought were too stupid or dumb, and you were afraid to ask. It is your chance to be more inquisitive, and at the same time it is a time for teachers to create a friendly and encouraging atmosphere in the class, where children are not worried about being laughed at.
And you know something: asking questions is a vital part of the educational process from a teacher’s point of view, as it serves as effective feedback, helping them to get a better understanding of what their students need assistance with.
A word of advice: don’t tell anyone that their question is stupid. If you know the answer, tell them politely without belittling them. If they are not as smart as you, they are least trying to learn and know things they don’t understand.
Remember that no question is silly or stupid, if you don’t know the answer yourself, the only way you can expect to learn is by asking!
Silly questions children ask
When do people born on February 29 celebrate their birthday?
Why are alphabets in the order that they are?
If roses are red, why are violets blue?
Why aren’t blueberries blue?
If chocolate comes from cocoa beans and all beans are vegetables, then why isn’t chocolate a vegetable?
Why does round pizza come in square boxes?
Do fish get thirsty?
Why doesn’t glue stick to the inside of the bottle?
If people from Poland are called Poles, why aren’t people from Holland called Holes?
What shape is the sky?
What would you use to dilute water?
What’s the opposite of opposite?
Why do we wake up in the morning and sleep at night?
Why does a clock only know 12 numbers? Is it illiterate?
Why do I have two eyes if I only see one thing?
Why don’t fish have eyebrows?
How do I know that I am not a robot?
Where do thoughts come from?
— Compiled from the web
Published in Dawn, Young World, September 26th, 2020