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Learning By Asking Questions

Posted by Daniel Tran on 14/12/2015

“Are there any questions?” asks the teacher, scanning the room for curiously engaged students. Silence fills the room. The question is left in vain, and the teacher continues.

Let’s face it; we’ve all been in that situation at some point in our lives. And if you haven’t, you’ll find this phenomenon more common than you’d think. But why is the action of asking questions so important? After all, you understood all that was said…right?

One of the most common motivations for this lack of action is that students don’t want to look like fools in front of their peers. We often think “Maybe I’ll just stay quiet and hope someone else asks the question” to save our own dignity, which happens on the odd occasion. But most of the time, a substantial number of students will be hoping for this best-case scenario, to which very few rise to the challenge.

I do have to admit, it does take a bit of courage to ask a question. After all, there’s always the risk of the teacher criticising you for not having understood what was just said. Plus, it’s possible there may not even be enough time for the teacher to properly address your question.

But, you’ve got to remember: You’re here to learn. If that’s not being achieved, why are you still here? It’s like going to a concert and ignoring the music for the entire event. Teachers are here to help, so you’re free to ask them to clarify anything you didn’t understand. If you feel shy to ask a question in front of everyone, take a moment to talk to them in private. In fact, just asking another student works just as well, even if they don’t have what you’re looking for.

If you still can’t handle the idea of asking someone for help, you can always turn to alternative media. After all, we live in an age where information is at our fingertips, metaphorically and literally. Don’t remember Euclid’s Algorithm? Search the internet and read some articles on it. Watch some online videos explaining the concepts. If you have a textbook, read what it has to say.

However, when asking questions, there’s always one condition we need to think about before we ask about something: “Is this a stupid question?” While some may argue that there are no such things as “stupid questions”, I’d say as long as you’re learning something related to the topic by asking the question, it is a question worth asking. If you think your question is stupid anyway, you may want to try rewording how you want to better communicate the question to your intended listener.

In conclusion, asking a question is an important skill for learning. While it is important to ask questions, it’s more essential that you understand the content correctly. There are so many avenues to get help from, and all you need to do is ask the question in the right way.

Author: Daniel Tran

Daniel Tran

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