Many of us tend to be scared to ask a silly question for fear of looking dumb in front of our peers. We let fear hold us back from seeking knowledge about what might seem like a trivial inquiry, or possibly delving into a thought-provoking question that we mistakenly assume the people around us already know the answer to.
No one likes to be laughed at or bullied for something as benign as a question. How many times have we kept our thoughts to ourselves assuming it is better not to ask? But, what if a single question could give us a new perspective? What if it the question isn’t as stupid as we thought?
Teachers often say that there is no such thing as a stupid question, but, instead of taking their advice, too many of us have decided the opposite. However, it is also important to remember what else our teachers have told us: if we have a question, most likely others do too.
This Friday, Sept. 28, is Ask a Stupid Question Day. Although it may appear to be a silly holiday, it is an event that we should celebrate and embrace, not only on this day but throughout the year.
The holiday began in the 1980s as teachers began a movement to improve classroom engagement and encourage their students to ask more questions. According to Holiday Insights, a website that details celebrated days or events, “kids sometimes hold back, fearing their question is stupid, and asking it will result in ridicule.”
Don’t get me wrong. I am sure we can all recall a time when we heard a stupid question. For example, if someone were to ask, “How far is it to drive from Los Angeles to California?” you might scratch your head. But, we need to remember that no one is born knowing geography. Learning that Los Angeles is in California is something that you are taught. Or if someone were to ask, “What color is the White House—blue?” Perhaps the person asking the question is new to our country, or hasn’t had the opportunity to take a trip to Washington, D.C. It is important to realize that though it may appear stupid, every question comes from a place of curiosity. A stupid question to one may be a revelation to another.
As human beings, we learn from one another. One of the ways to do this is to ask a question. We pick up knowledge from those around us, and, in turn, make ourselves more well-rounded. What makes sense to one person may appear to be rocket science to another. It’s important to realize that questions, no matter how laughable or silly, are the gateway to learning and acquiring new knowledge. We all deserve the chance to learn all we can.
This year, ask all the stupid questions that you have been holding in for so many years. Ask your teachers, your parents, your friends or perhaps even the barista at Starbucks. They may laugh or question your thought process, but you just might get the answer you’ve been searching for all along. Never underestimate the power of asking.