What Teachers Will Never Tell You About Asking Questions

What you don’t know can make you look silly! Don’t ask what you should already know. You’ve seen the following happen:

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You’re in class, a student who usually not only sleeps but also snores through most of the period, raises his hand and begins, “This is probably a stupid question.”  For some reason, the teacher answers, “Now, there are no stupid questions.” And sure enough, here it comes, the most ridiculous question you’ve heard all year.

If you’re thinking there are such things as stupid questions, you’re right.  Only to soften the blow, let’s call them ill-advised questions, shall we?

Let’s go over some questions you don’t want to be caught dead asking.

Right off the bat, let me say that anytime you do not read the teacher’s assignment for the day, you may not ask questions.  Not trying to be a control freak here, just looking out for your best interest.

Why not ask if you haven’t read?  Quite simply, you can end up really looking silly if the question is already answered in the text.  It’s a big, black mark against you.  Makes you look not only ill-prepared, but lazy.  Your teacher is thinking, you didn’t do your part, now you want to use class time for something you should have done yourself.

Bad idea.  Also, if you have one of those teachers who like to rub it in when it’s obvious that a student hasn’t prepared, you may be in for some serious teasing throughout the term.

You can also forget getting others to be your partner on a group project.  Once other students know you don’t do your work, they won’t want to let you ride on their coattails.  And obviously, no body wants someone in a study group who won’t carry his own weight, either.

See?  Some questions are best left unasked.

Now that I’ve got some of you sufficiently paranoid, two important points:

1.  If you have prepared, yes, please do ask a question, if you need a point clarified.  Jump right in there.

2.  If you do ask a question in front of the teacher, DO NOT, under any circumstance, begin by saying, “This is probably as stupid question.” Be bold, it earns you more respect.

Why leave off the “stupid question” disclaimer?  Because it’s weak, and makes you look like you don’t have confidence in yourself.  You know, we teach people how to treat us.  We do this by how we treat them, and ourselves.  This includes how we talk about ourselves.  Saying we have a stupid question really undermines our own credibility.


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Crystal Jonas Bio

As a former academic advisor and assistant professor at the United States Air Force Academy, Crystal Jonas knows what it takes to make college students more successful, and enjoy school whole lot more.

Ask about speaking or coaching for your students or faculty. Call Crystal at 719- 291-0366.

2 thoughts on “What Teachers Will Never Tell You About Asking Questions

  1. Thank you for another great article. Where else could anyone get that kind of information in such a perfect way of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I am on the look for such information.

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