Importance Of Asking Question – Benefits Of Asking Questions – Asking Questions To Improve Learning
The Inquitisive Spirit Always thirsting for answers
He question mark has been the pole star of human civilisation in its march towards progress. People asked questions about the forces of nature and about their own environment. Scientists and inventors must have made discoveries and inventions by asking questions.
The word ʻquestionʼ has come from the Latin root ʻquaerereʼ, which means to ask. It is interesting to see the word quest which means to seek or search. We use the mark “?” to indicate a question.There are many benefits of asking questions. One wonders how this particular mark was chosen to signify a question. Has it anything to do with the way we hold our fist while asking a question?
Socrates the Greek philosopher who was the master of Plato and Aristotle was well known for his inquisitive spirit. The question was a method of gaining knowledge and encouraging people to think why they believed in certain things or practised certain things. Rene Descartes, the French philosopher is another person who encouraged the spirit of enquiry. He said that human beings should doubt their sense experiences and ask questions. If a person doubts, then it means that he or she exists. Descartes expressed his philosophy in his famous phrase, ʻCogito, ergo sumʼ (I think, therefore I am). In modern management science the importance of asking questions has been emphasised. In problem solving techniques you are advised not so much to seek solutions but to ask questions. Creativity depends to a large extent on our willingness and ability to ask questions, however stupid or silly they may seem on the face of it. Churchill said, “Donʼt judge the intelligence of a man by the answers he gives; judge him by the questions he asks. You can tell a lot about him from the questions he asks.”
Kenneth Blanchard in his excellent book The One Minute Manager describes an interesting situation. The new manager calls the senior manager and says he has a problem and needs help. The senior asks whether he tried method A to solve the problem. The junior says yes but without success. The senior then asks whether method B was tried. Again, the answer is yes but with no result. Then the senior asks whether he had tried a combination of A and B. The new manager answers in the negative.
The experienced person then says, “Would you like to do that and see what happens?”
In social intercourse we invariably ask the question “How are you?” or “How do you do?” Courtesy dictates that when someone says “How do you do?” to you, you are expected to say the same thing rather than give an elaborate answer narrating your worries and woes. We ask questions or we are faced with questions at every step in life. The doctor asks us questions about our problem. The shop man asks us what we want to buy. The bus conductor asks where we wish to go. The entire human interaction is governed by questions and answers.
Children ask many questions. Some children ask too many questions to be answered conveniently by the older persons. But it is definitely a great sign that a child should be asking many questions and it would be advisable for parents and others to answer the questions patiently. One of my friends told me that she was very upset when her young child came and asked her what was meant by sex. As she wondered what to say her husband said, “Son, sex means boy or girl.
You are a boy. Sheela is a girl. Right?”
Our education and our tests and examinations are full of questions which seek to assess our knowledge. People have been trying to bring about much reform in the method of assessing studentsʼ knowledge but the question continues to be the most important method of ascertaining what the person has learnt.
Rudyard Kipling wrote, “I keep six honest serving men, knew; They taught me all I Their names are What and Why and When, And How and Where and Who.” Teachers and trainers use the question method to answer questions from students and to clarify matters. If someone asks what is such and such a thing the teacher might say, “What do you think it is?” instead of simply giving an easy explanation. Sometimes, the teacher may throw open the question to the whole class and give a chance to the other students to provide the answer. This method encourages the students to think and learn instead of spoon feeding. We had a clever teacher. If someone asked a difficult question, the answer for which he was not aware, he would throw open the question and say, “Students, this is a very interesting question. I want you to find out the answer and come with it when you come to class tomorrow. Let me see who succeeds in getting the right answer.”
I recall a Hindi movie song where the hero and heroine asked questions to each other. The answer to every question had to be given in the form of a question itself. “Ek sawal main karoon, ek sawal tum karo. Har sawal ka sawal hee jawab ho.” (Iʼll ask a question and you ask a question. The question to every question has to be the answer.)
Jesus Christ reportedly had a special method of answering questions and teaching the good news. When the people caught hold of an adulteress and asked him to prescribe the punishment for her, he coolly asked, “What does your law say?” When they said their law decreed the punishment of stoning the woman to death, Jesus said, “Well, then, let the man who has not committed any sin cast the first stone.”
Quiz programmes have become a popular pastime these days. At a certain quiz contest the candidates were answering the questions put to them by prefixing, “Is it?” So the quiz master asked, “Are you asking me or giving the answer?” The question is the soul of the interview and in modern times the candidates are also given a chance to ask questions. I remember an interesting anecdote. The chairperson of the interview committee asked the candidate, “Would you like to answer one single tough question or 10 easy questions?” The candidate opted for the single tough question. The chairperson asked, “Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?” Without batting an eyelid the candidate replied “The egg.” “How do you say that?” asked the chairperson. Do you know what the candidate said?
THE QUESTIONS In public speaking and presentations the audience is usually given time for asking questions to the speakers. When the question is tough and difficult to answer, the speaker usually precedes his answer by saying something like, “You have asked a very good question…..” On a certain occasion, the old Bollywood comedian Johnny Walker was being interviewed. Someone who wanted to pull his legs asked, “They say that whenever you perform, dquestion-answer stories which are very interesting. Once, Akbar asked his witty minister, “Birbal, who is the greatest of all?” Birbal said, “Undoubtedly, Jahanpanah, it is you.” Akbar laughed and said, “Oh, Birbal, I feel so sad to see that you do not know the answer to my question. The greatest of all is Allah, the merciful.” Birbal said, “I beg to differ, Jahanpanah, but you are definitely the greatest, you are greater than Allah.” “Can you prove it?” asked Akbar. “Yes, Jahanpanah. If you are displeased with me for any reason you can banish me from your kingdom. But if Allah is displeased, He cannot banish me from His Kingdom. He cannot do what you can do. That is why I say that you are the greatest.”
People often approach sooth sayers and astrologers with their questions about their future. Will I be rich? Will I be able to get a good partner in life? And so on and soon keys gather to watch. Is it true?” “But how is it that you were never seen in the group?” asked the great comedian. In history and mythology we often hear about kings asking questions to their courtiers and offering rewards for correct answers. Some monarchs would prescribe severe punishment including death if the person was not able to come up with a suitable answer. There are many Vikram Bethal, Akbar-Birbal, Krishna devarya-Thenali Ramahkrishna forth. A young man asked an astrologer what his future was likely to be. The astrologer said, “You will be in much difficulty till your fortieth year.” Hoping that after that he was going to be happy the man asked, “After that, sir?” “After that you will get used to your difficulties” was the answer.
In law also the question has an important role in arriving at the truth of the matter. Lawyers put questions to the witnesses. The law of evidence allows some types of questions but not others. For example, one is not supposed to ask what are known as leading questions. A leading question is defined as “Any question suggesting the answer which the person putting it wishes or expects to receive.” For example, the lawyer may ask a question like this, “Did you find the accused in a drunken state?” It is clear that such a question is a leading question. The lawyer would have been within his rights to ask the same question in a different form – for instance, “In what state did you find the man?” We are familiar with many movie scenes where the opposite lawyer stands up and says, “Objection, your Honour. My learned friend should not ask such a question.” The judge may then either overrule the objection or sustain it. I remember a joke about the leading question. The lawyer asked the defendant, “Have you stopped beating your wife?”
I want to narrate another interesting anecdote about a lawyer who used to charge Rs 20,000 for answering two queries. A curious client called and asked, “Sir, is it true that you are charging Rs 20,000 for just two questions?” “Yes” said the advocate and added, “Please ask your second question.”
When we discuss questions we always think of asking questions to other people. But, coming to think of it, the most important person to whom I should ask questions is myself. Who am I? Where do I come from? Where will I go? What is the purpose and meaning of my life? What can I do to make myself and other people around me happy?