The Fear of Asking in a Class Room….

Should I ask him/her? No… What will people think of me, if I ask this? Stupid? No, I think it is a silly question? I should not ask him/her !!

Most of us must have experienced this some day or the other of our day-to-day life.

This is a common fear for most of the students in a class; be it in school, or in college. In general people don’t ask questions thinking that the question that comes in their mind might be a silly one or it might not have the worth to be asked. Some times we think that the teacher might scold or shout at us if we ask. But, by not asking the question and clearing the doubt at the right moment don’t we think we harm ourselves? increase our doubt level?

And the result is, we struggle to find out the answer and spend more time and resources. We loose our self confidence or struggle to excel in our day to day life. We should remember that questioning is a process of learning, one has to ask, either to himself or to the other in that process.

The exact opposite is seen in case of a child. If he/she does not understand, he/she will ask more than a thousand questions, “why, how, when, whom, blah blah blah…”, till you either get irritated or he/she gets satisfied with your answer. He/she will get his/her doubts cleared at any cost. But, the same kid starts feeling shy, looses self confidence once he/she grows in time.

The fear of should I or should not I, the fear of loosing (be it self confidence or something similar) starts resulting in the development of a fear or shyness to ask in day-to-day life.

For an example, one can very well experience/observe this in a typical class (lecture) where students from MTech, BTech, PhD etc. are there.The BTech students usually ask many questions, irrespective of the type and quality of the question. Most of the times they do not fear and simply ask the teacher and do not let the teacher go unless their query is answered. This is a very good sign.

Whereas in the same class, one can hardly find any question from the MTechs or the PhDs. Not that they understand every thing in the lecture; they too have doubts like any other student, but the self confidence is low, the feeling of inferiority complex is very high, and the sensitivity towards “what others will think about me” is so high that they cannot ask any thing. They just can’t come out from the should I or shouldn’t I barrier. This is quite common in the case of new entrants, 1st yearites, be in 10+2, BTech, MTech or PhD, which usually disappears over time.

Some times language creates a barrier in questioning. Those who have studied in Hindi or in any regional medium usually feel shy to ask, because they feel, that their English is not that good. In some cases the social or cultural background of the student also creates the barrier in asking. If they are in minority in the class, they do not feel comfortable and do not ask much. A good example can be in cases of female students who sometimes do not ask any question if they are out numbered.

This kind of shyness and lack of confidence can be observed in many fields and in many different places, be it in class room or in office or at home. Now the question arises how should we take this problem? In lecture/class the teacher must realize the problem of 1st year students and encourage the students to ask. May be by making the lecture more interactive and involving more students, might help to some extent.

Remember that by asking even silly questions you are not going to harm any one, but if you do not ask, you will not be able to clear your doubts in the class room premises, resulting in no clear understanding of the topic and also spend more time doing the same thing. By doing this, the barrier between should I or should not I increases. The more you fear, the more you loose. But, do we want to loose? No. Then? …

aamjunta, what do you think? Better ask and clear your doubts in the class next time 🙂 . It is better late than never.

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