26 Sep Ask a Stupid Question, Get a Magical Possibility
“I find relief from the questions only when I concede that I am not obliged to know everything. I remind myself it is sufficient to know what I know, and that what I know, may not always be true. – Maya Angelou
My first thought when writing this blog in celebration of Ask a Stupid Question Day was, “What can I possibly write that isn’t going to sound stupid?”
As a youngster with an inquisitive mind, I was full of questions both at home and at school. However, as I grew older, I began to distinguish the stupid questions from the good ones and it had a profound impact on my confidence to self-express – primarily because I judged myself harshly.
Suddenly I was monitoring myself before I asked anything, especially in class – I didn’t want to be that student who got jeered at for asking the obvious (obvious to whom, I’m not really sure). I also desperately wanted to avoid being subjected to the withering looks of teachers, whose unspoken judgements didn’t need to be voiced to be heard.
Soon it became a habit to edit what I was going to say. Eventually I primarily only asked questions in my head, because I believed I should know the answers already. When the teacher asked whether everyone understood the concept under discussion, I would find myself nodding without actually having a clue.
As I grew older, this editing of myself became even more of the norm. After all, as a university/college graduate I should know everything, right? Or at least that’s what my judgemental mind told me.
After I completed my teacher training, the idea that I should know everything because I was a teacher was something I wore like a cloak of invisibility (much like the cloak Harry Potter used on his own hunt for answers). But unlike Harry, my cloak kept me in ignorance and bliss it was not!
During those early teaching days, I couldn’t help but be that teacher who distinguished between stupid and clever questions. And in so doing, I did my students a great disservice. While they passed their exams with flying colours, they left with their curiosity dampened and their confidence to speak up suppressed by the fear of being judged for not knowing the right answer.
Then I met a couple of teachers, Ariel and Shya Kane, who introduced me to the concept of Instantaneous Transformation. In their courses they suggest that stupid and clever are all constructs of our enculturation and that non-judgemental awareness and true listening to one another is key. This transformational approach has supported me in dropping my cloak of invisibility. I don’t need it anymore because I am no longer afraid of being ‘ignorant’. I realize that not knowing is not a failing. It’s the jumping off point for expansion.
These days, my students and I are full of questions, confident self-expression, curiosity and a zest for discovering magical possibilities.