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Monday, December 28, 2009

Is There a Such Thing As a "Stupid Question?"

My apologies, but there’s no clever introduction to this one. I have to jump right into the answer to the question of the day…YES, YES, YES, there is a such thing as a “stupid question.” So, the real question is, how do I make sure I’m not the one, asking all of the stupid questions. Well, the best way to make sure you never ask a stupid question is by, well, by simply paying attention. There is nothing more embarrassing – and by embarrassing, I mean people laughing at you – there is nothing more embarrassing than someone who asks a question that was asked and answered just 30 seconds ago. Oh, wait, it’s also pretty darn embarrassing when people ask question and the answer can be found in (1) last night’s readings, (2) the syllabus, or (3) in the PowerPoint slide that’s pulled up right now.

If the Prof says, “Homework assignment #5 is due next Tuesday at the beginning of class,” and you ask five minutes late, “When is #5 due?” Stupid question. Questions like, “When are your office hours?” (likely found on the syllabus), “When is the final paper due?” (on the syllabus), “Why do we have to do this?” (just flat out too stupid to put on the syllabus), or anything similar to these, well, these qualify as “stupid questions.” Please don’t waste your classmates; or the Prof’s time by subliminally telling the entire room, “I don’t take this course seriously. Actually, I don’t take my education seriously and I certainly don’t care if you do because I enjoy being annoying.” Yeah, that’s the subtext of any stupid question.

Word to the wise: Prepare for each class meeting. And if you don’t have the time to do so, or you don’t care to – because there will be days like this – well, don’t say anything. Just sit in the back of the class and nod your head. Don’t interrupt others’ learning. Period. Please remember that college is designed for you to actually learn (believe it or not); and if you can’t respect that, then you’re in the wrong place. All questions should be reserved for advancing your knowledge and increasing your level of understanding of the information. So, reserve questions for just that and please, please, please don’t hesitate to ask questions that help you build knowledge. There’s no more to add. Prepare yourself. Take each class meeting seriously (you’re paying for it). And, don’t interrupt others students who are trying to learn because you don’t care. Next question.

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