Question the Question

Here’s a thought.. And I welcome your thoughts in return..

Back when I was in the ninth standard/grade in school, while I wasn’t too bright in studies. With the exception of Math and Physics. In those two, I was competing for between the 6th and 9th position in class. They weren’t subjects I had to study or know. It just somehow came logically.

Feeling comfortably confident while preparing for a Physics exam, I got thinking about the kind of questions I would have asked, had I got a chance to set the paper. I did manage to frame quite a few interesting and not-so-direct questions. I was glad that I also managed to answer my tricky questions.

Then something struck.

It dawned on me that it isn’t very easy to frame intelligent questions. And that I wouldn’t have been able to do so had I not known the subject well. Considering I hadn’t had similar luck with a lot of other subjects at the time or even later.

Voltaire knew what he was saying when he urged us all to “Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.”

book question mark

image: wizrocklopedia

The way I see it, all of us are trying to be experts at one or more things. Which is a good thing. But we aren’t experts when we think we know the answers. We become experts whenever we frame the right questions. It is because questions set us on the right course. Answers, on the other hand are abundant and commonplace. Most importantly, answers frequently change too. Hence the importance on questions.

Don’t believe me, ask someone for their views on a topic or question close to your heart. With the limited information you give them, you’d be amazed at all the confident advice you receive. But if they’re not initially replying to your question with some intelligent questions of their own, you can safely assume one of two things: either they’re experts and have done some thinking around that space recently; or they haven’t a clue.

2 thoughts on “Question the Question

  1. Question the question

    Why ?

    Questions are the stepping stones to understanding, acquiring knowledge. When do questions become annoying or disturbing. It is when we are faced with the dilemma that we do not know the answer. Then perhaps one of two things happens. We brush aside the questioner with a remark that he/she should know better, should not waste others time and some such similar remarks. The second, which perhaps is rarer is that we, the questioned, try to determine the answer if not to inform at least to learn.

    Now the framing of questions. A questioner, according to me asks questions only from what he knows. If the questioner, himself is mediocre the questions asked fall in the realm of easy. In today’s system, at times questions are asked which perhaps have no answer. This in turn plays havoc with the answerer, especially when the answer affects his future. A person well versed in his subject, asks questions, not to show how much he know but to evoke thinking.

    1. Nicely explained, Jimmy. I couldn’t have put it better than that.
      The bit about ‘questions in school’, was also indirectly questioning the quality & mode of education. I didn’t get into details as it would get too lengthy & complicated. But the flaw with questioning in the education system is connected with the teaching. We were taught definitions and concepts, and asked to “remember” them. Questions in the exam too were relatively direct, perhaps to prove the effectiveness of the mode of teaching. So they tell you that ‘the cow jumped over the moon’ and exam questions would be ‘what jumped over the moon?’, or ‘what did the cow jump over?’. They’d never tell you how or why the cow jumped.

      Life would have been better, if we were given the concept, perhaps the definition too, and either asked to figure it out, or even in the least, explained the what, why, etc. That way, we could apply concepts directly or in combination with other concepts, to a variety of things in life. Because we’d have understood a lot of things a lot better than we do today. Everything from Science to Religion.

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