Copyright © Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.

Date: Fri, 29 Oct 1999 07:24:33 -0400 (EDT)
Random Thought: That Magnificant "Dumb" Question

As I was preparing myself for my 6:30 p.m. first year history class last night, a student came into the office to ask a question about the "Madison Avenue Project" project on which his triad is working for next week's presentation. He had prefaced his question with the raising of the proverbial shield to deflect any feelings of embarrassment, shame of looking of ignorant, fear of being foolish, or stares of annoyance: "This many be a dumb question, but....."

How many times have I heard that verbal armor being put on? Before I answered him, I had a quick flashback to the ISETA conference in which I had just participated hearing on more than one instance faculty offering that same apologetic defense as they asked a question.

I told him, "Jeff, first stop saying you're sorry for asking a question. Let's understand that there is no such thing as a 'dumb' question, a 'stupid' question, or a 'silly' question. Even if you want to know how to spell 'the,' ask the question and learn something. What did I say in the syllabus?" There was a pause. "I said that if you are afraid to ask the question, you're ashamed to learn." Then, I slowed down for emphasis. "The only dumb question you can have is the one you don't ask. And, if anyone is annoyed that you ask a questions or poormouths you for asking a question, that person is the dumb one, not you. Remember this. A real education is not about getting the answers. It's all about asking the questions, and asking the questions anywhere, at anytime, about anything."

I answered his "dumb" question. There wasn't anything dumb about it. No. There is no such thing as a stupid question. I think there is nothing more exciting than looking. It's more exciting than just sitting around and thinking, and even more exciting than knowing. That supposedly "dumb" question is the beginning of an adventure, of looking for something new. And, that is the magnificance of the "dumb" question.

Make it a good day. 


Louis Schmier           
Department of History    
Valdosta State University
Valdosta, GA  31698                        /~\    /\ /\
912-333-5947                       /^\    /   \  /  /~ \     /~\__/\
                                  /   \__/     \/  /     /\ /~      \
                            /\/\-/ /^\___\______\_______/__/_______/^\
                          -_~     /  "If you want to climb mountains, \ /^\
                             _ _ /      don't practice on mole hills" -\____

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