Celebrate “Silly” Questions
By Donna Vandiver, President & CEO
According to Parade magazine, September 28 is “Ask a Stupid Question” day. When Marilyn vos Savant was asked if there was such a thing as a stupid question, she replied, “Yes”. She cited examples such as:
“Why does a wool sweater shrink when washed? The same wool on sheep doesn’t shrink when they stand in the rain”.
Or, “I’ll sleep better at night if you could explain why so many things taste like chicken”.
“We have all heard the expression ‘once in a blue moon’. What other colors does the moon come in?”
And, “I do not understand women. Would the study of quantum mechanics help?”
I always encourage people to ask questions to get the information they need to do their jobs. And, I always say there are no “silly” questions. A major way for us to learn is to ask about things we don’t understand. Young children have no compunction asking about anything, and they don’t worry about what anyone may think of them because they asked it. As they get older, they worry more about what their peers think, and question-asking drops precipitously.
In high school, I suffered through an English Lit teacher who threw erasers at those he thought asked “dumb” questions. Consequently, few students dared ask questions. As an adult, I’ve thought two things about this teacher—one, he was extremely unhappy in his job, and two, he was not nearly as bright as he pretended to be. He did a good job of stifling creative thought. I sometimes wonder where he ended up, as he only lasted in our high school a couple of years. He had no compassion for those trying to learn, so I hope he found a job outside of education.
So, next time you are wondering if you should ask a question—go ahead! I’m reminded of the saying, “dance as if no one is watching”. In this case, “ask questions as if only one person is listening, then listen closely to the answer”. And, know that you are helping others more fully understand the topic by bravely asking a question.