Question Revolution

Recently, my sister has come home with geometry homework that she does not understand and asks me to help her.  Now, I passed geometry, but I am not a math wiz by any means.  So, I slide over to her side of the desk and give it a go.

Our conversations go like this:

HER:  “Lindsey, can you help me?”

ME: “Sure, what’s up?”

HER: “I don’t understand how to do numbers 10-15.”

ME: “Hmmm…okay, you just do this, this, and that, because of this property.  Get it?”

HER: “Kinda”

ME: “Why dont you ask your teacher for help?  Because I’m not always going to remember the concepts and be able to help you.  Did it make sense in class today when you learned it?”

HER: “I don’t know. I guess it made some sense.”

ME: “Well did you ask questions?”

HER: “Well, no.”

ME: “Why not?”

HER: “Cause no one asks questions.  I don’t want her(the teacher) to think I’m dumb.”

ME: “Why would she think that?  Teachers want to know when you don’t understand something, so they can re-teach it to help it make more sense. Why don’t you go in early before school and get help?”

HER: “NO!  I can’t go in early. People would think I’m stupid.  And I absolutely can’t have a tutor, cause that is even worse than asking questions and going in early.”

 

I proceed to remind her of my failings in math and how I spent countless hours going in for extra help and then many more at the tutor in the afternoon, just to finally have a grasp of the concepts that were taught in class that day.  What took the other students thirty minutes to learn, took me two hours and countless questions.  She calms down and finishes her math, but I am stuck pondering why asking questions is such a “bad” thing.

I never have had an issue with asking questions.  If there is any question in my mind, I usually ask it.  You know how there is always that one kid in every classroom that seems as if  their hand is up 75% of the time and on its way up, the other 25% of the time.  The one that ALWAYS asks questions.  Everyone can think of at least one.  Well, I am not at all ashamed to tell you that I am THAT KID.

But, I don’t understand why I am the only one consistently asking questions.  And most of my questions are not about understanding what is being taught, they are questions that help me connect experiences with answers, questions that make my mind turn, get creative, and delve further into the subject being discussed.

Why is asking questions considered such a bad thing to do in a student’s mind?  Teachers normally like questions; they show that the student is engaging in the lesson and learning.  So, why is asking questions so bad?  It really concerns me that the majority of students have been basically taught to learn by rote memorization and regurgitate facts for a grade.  Is our society so cut-throat and judgemental, that even in middle school students are afraid to ask a question in class, as it looks like a sign of weakness?  I do not know, but it needs to change.

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Questions spur change, innovation, imagination, and learning.  Einstein puts it this way, ” Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  Without questions, we would be stuck in a rut, doing the same things over and over again, the same way.  If Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, Issac Newton, Rosalind Franklin, and Watson and Crick hadn’t asked questions where would we be?  We would never had been to outer space, believing by candlelight, and the field of medicine would be very primitive.  Questions are vital to life, yet today’s students-the leaders and innovators of tomorrow, are afraid to ask questions.

My challenge to you is to ask a question a day, for two weeks.  See what happens.  Who knows, you could be the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg.  Challenge yourself to be creative and innovative.  We need a question revolution.