To ask or not to ask, this is the question

Posted: March 24, 2012 in critical thinking, Education, Learning
Tags: , , , , , ,

Carmen Gloria Caamaño replied to my post Curiosity vanishes : “Very good post. That got me thinking that people stop asking questions so as not to show vulnerability. In the case of the Chileans are very few people ask. Will they not encouraged culturally? What can you do to change this? regards”

In this post I tried to answer her questions.

In my opinion, losing the ability to ask questions  is a deep, maybe instinctive feature of  adult people. It is more natural for adults not to ask questions than to ask them in many different cultures. Maybe a group needs a majority of non-questioning individuals for stability. From the other side, people with curiosity can discover new things. The ability to ask questions is an essential part of critical thinking. Nowadays critical thinking is more important than in the past because of two reason. The first is the rapid changes of our world, and the second is mass media and social media technologies which can be used and are used for more and more manipulations.

Can we change adults and make them ask more questions?  In this regard I am pessimistic. Adults can change but those changes are rare. The less bad consequences follow questioning the more questions people ask. Open society is a prerequisite for asking questions.

Children, from the other side, already have the ability to ask questions. They ask and we (parents, teachers) have to answer. If we don’t have an answer  we need to look for it or show a way to look for it. Children’s questions should be important for us. When a teenager says about his question “It’s not important” he lost something from his ability to ask questions.

Sometimes we don’t understand questions. Often a question is badly built. However, for parents and teachers “No silly questions” politics should be used. All questions must be welcome. It is our duty to find out what the child wanted to ask, and create an atmosphere  supporting curiosity.

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Comments
  1. I completely agree with you. Interestingly enough, I wrote an article today about adults not wanting to ask for help.

    What you say about culture as well is particularly apt. For example, in certain patriarchal societies, if a man has an option to ask for enlightening from a woman, or remain in proverbial darkness, he is most likely to choose the latter.

    Growing up, there was a sign in our classroom about asking questions, “It is better to be a fool for a minute than a fool for life.” I think this is true across all cultures and intellectual abilities.

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