There’s no such thing as a dumb question. We’ve all heard it, at some point or another. The reality, as I see it, is that although there may be no such thing as a dumb question, some questions are certainly more intelligent than others. For example, asking for clarification on a point you missed because you were too busy texting on your phone to listen the first time is kind of a dumb question. Asking for clarification on the requirements for an essay that’s due in two weeks because you want to get the best grade possible on it is not a dumb question at all, and is in fact a very smart question. Even with the first situation, however, perhaps it is recognizing that you missed an important point and cared enough to rectify the situation makes it not a dumb question.
Shoot. I really hate it when cliches somehow manage to stand their ground.
But if there really is no such thing as a dumb question, why do we so often sit in silence and refuse to break the flow of something by asking a perfectly valid question. For me, one of the most stressful times of the school year is when the teacher goes over the syllabus. As we fly through an entire semester’s worth of material, questions start popping into my head. The fact that I’m too nervous to ask any of these questions, unwilling to draw any sort of negative attention to myself as the girl who can’t understand the syllabus, keeps me preoccupied so that I become confused by even more items on the syllabus. By the end of the first class I feel defeated already.
So what is the point of this? Speak up! Ask your questions without shame! An intelligent question can never go awry, although you may want to work on your timing. Sometimes, interrupting the flow of someone’s thought with a question can be distracting. Instead, take a moment to jot down your question, which you can pose to them after they’ve finished. In some cases, it’s worth it to interrupt and seek clarification. Even if you feel silly after asking a question, you can usually take solace in knowing you’re not the only one who had the same question, or the only one who would have had a question in that circumstance. So query on!