We all have that one classmate who always has a question. Whether the teacher is talking about differential calculus or simply the date of the next test, we can always count on that one person to raise their hand. Most of the time we roll our eyes, groan internally and zone out, trying to ignore the seemingly incessant question machine that’s sitting among us. Why does this bother us so much? Do we hate when the pace of a lesson is interrupted, or do all the questions just annoy us after a while? Or are we too smug to entertain the idea that we may indeed have questions ourselves?
Regardless of why we despise the question-asker, we just shouldn’t. Moreover, we should aim to be that question-asker.
Asking a question in class is the easiest way to engage with the material being taught. It puts you, the student, in control of your learning. It even gives your teacher a little confidence boost (they love it when students ask questions, even ones they can’t answer) which will lead to an improvement in the quality of their instruction. We all have questions, but whether we choose to ask them will make the difference between understanding and confusion.
Later in life, you’ll have to ask questions a lot—whether it be at a job interview, a doctor’s appointment, or a bank deposit. Becoming a question-asker in class will develop those crucial speaking skills that will get you used to asking questions in real life.
You’ve probably heard of the Socratic method, developed by the philosopher Socrates in Ancient Greece, in which students engage in a question and answer discussion with the teacher. Some schools have adopted this style of teaching for their classrooms because it has proven to be one of the best ways to learn material. Why is it so effective? Because the constant asking and answering of questions stimulates critical thinking in all participants and helps generate new thoughts and ideas on a particular subject. Even though your classes may not be structured this way, you can still get the benefits by asking your teacher concept-based questions that require them to explain their material differently.
Even if you understand the lesson, asking a question in which you paraphrase what you think the teacher just said can help refine and correct your knowledge of a topic. Imagine if no one in your class was afraid to be a question-asker—you’d end up learning more simply by paying attention to other people’s questions. You’d be in control of your learning.
So, put aside your self-consciousness and be a question-asker. Become more engaged with and interested in what you’re learning. When it comes right down to it, remember this: it’s up to you how much you want to get out of your time in school, and whether you want it to prepare you for life beyond it.
Essentially, if you have a question, just ask it.