Go ahead and ask

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By Diana Poist

Published on November 7, 2007

“This is probably a stupid question, but.”

Sound familiar? Probably. I doubt there is a student who has been in college for a week that hasn’t heard that phrase uttered during one of their classes.

I always like classmates that start their questions that way. It usually means they are going to ask something I wanted to know myself but hadn’t gotten around to asking. But, when somebody prefaces their question with that statement they probably don’t realize that the real stupidity lies in not asking.

We are a nation of people who value our freedom, and one right that insures that freedom is our right of free speech. The right of free speech includes our right to freely question.

The core curriculum of a college is designed to provide students with a well-rounded education. It is supposed to provide exposure to thoughts, literature, theory and culture that go beyond the everyday lives of most people. It is meant to help us develop inquiring minds: in essence to question.

In addition to the academic experience inherent on a college campus there is a cultural blending that contributes significantly to the questioning nature of thoughtful students. The student population here at PJC includes myriad races, nationalities and religions all contributing to the social awareness of the collective whole.

This social awareness is oftentimes a new experience for incoming students. It raises questions regarding learned prejudices and attitudes. It fosters the examination of long-held values and their rightness, or wrongness.

Historically college campuses have often been the birthplaces of social change. Students ask questions. They ask why, and how come? They come together to express their opinions regarding governments, wars and social institutions. They have been instrumental in leading the way toward change when change was needed. They have given their lives to defend their right to question the status quo.

Not all questions are profound. Some questions are not well thought-out. There are certainly a few stupid questions that elicit a groan from the professor trying to get on with his lecture. No matter. Go ahead and ask.

Go ahead and ask. Practice, perfect, ponder. One day, one question will be profound. And, like one small voice, the answer will raise other questions and those questions, and the answers to the questions, will bring the recognition of the need for change.

The next time a fellow student raises their hand to put forth a “stupid” question, congratulate them for having the courage to start the process toward thoughtful inquiry. Some minds will never reach the culmination of profound thought, but others will eventually achieve brilliance. It is not for us to know which student falls into which category. It is only for us to question.

So, go ahead and ask.

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