Why stupid questions are the most important questions you can ask
Stupid questions are gold.
They turn struggling students into successful students.
Unfortunately, stupid questions are also what make a tutor’s (or teacher’s) life very hard. But it’s not for the reason you think.
If you think a question is stupid, do you still ask it anyway?
For most people, the answer is no. And that is definitely a problem.
Most people think that if they are supposed to know the answer, they shouldn’t be asking the question. Which means they go on not knowing.
The biggest problem with this line of thinking is a simple fact: if they think a question is stupid, it’s probably because they feel like it’s basic. And they’re probably right. But that means they are going to move forward without knowing the basics.
Year 12s are guilty of not asking stupid questions
My Maths students are notorious for this. Fortunately, I work hard to build relationships with them and coax these questions out of them. I do this because if I don’t, their questions will go unasked and therefore unanswered.
Sometimes they forget how to add fractions (which is something they learnt in primary school). And if they don’t ask for my help to fix this, it holds them back in a range of other areas. The gap in their foundation is a huge problem.
I never have a problem with these questions. Because, as an educator, it’s a problem that I can help them solve. Not only that but most of the time the question isn’t stupid at all.
If you have a question that you think is stupid, chances are there is someone else with the same question
So be brave. Ask the “stupid” question. And get the simple answer. Because without that simple answer, you won’t be able to get to the hard questions anyway.
Don’t be worried about looking silly for asking an easy question. Trust me, it’s more embarrassing getting the wrong answer to an easy question than it is to simply ask.