Since elementary school, there has been one student who asks questions that make everyone else want to slap their foreheads in exasperation. Quite possibly at some point, you were that student with the stupid question. Cheeks burning with embarrassment, you slouched lower in your seat and vowed never to ask a question so daft again.
As we grow older (and perhaps wiser) our view of what constitutes a “stupid” question begins to shift. We alter questions to fit new educational or occupational environments, and avoid posing questions that seem dimwitted. Unfortunately, we cannot censor everything that comes out of our mouths.
Some have little tolerance for those who ask such questions.
“I can’t stand when a person asks a question about something that was said, not even a minute before,” says Jainee DiDonato, a freshman film/media major at the University of Rhode Island. “It just indicates that they weren’t paying attention.”
Questions that display inattention and disinterest in a task, either in the classroom, or at an interview, immediately notify listeners of an asker’s lack of commitment.
“Asking a professor what the attendance policy is, or a future employer how many days of work you can miss or call out of before you get fired would make you look dumb,” Gina DiDomenic, a sophomore mathematics major at Drexel University, says. “It really shows how much you don’t care.”
Others drift to the more optimistic side of the spectrum, discriminating against no question.
“I really believe that there’s no such thing as a stupid question,” Megan Smillie, a sophomore psychology major from Bard College, says. “We’re taught that when we’re little, but it’s really empowering. It makes everyone feel adequate.”
Brandon Hillman, a senior English/education major at East Stroudsburg University agrees, “Any question not asked is a stupid question.”