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.

19 Responses

  1. there are times when even the least inferior complexed person wants to, and has asked questions in his/her life. But society like the one we live in today has put that person down. i think that early on in life when the person begins to question authority and doubts small things he/she is told to “shut up ” since it is against the norm to question authority, peers, because the elders/peers /aurthority are always right and what they do/say is the best solution. I thinks thats where the patience and perserverence in people pays off. only these people shine.
    This also bears a resemblence to those who have thought differently/are differently able/have asked different questions, they are the people who bring paradigm shifts in mindsets by example, and are instrumental in changing perspectives.

  2. Thanks eddie. You are absolutely right. Many times, the elements like “hierarchy”, “seniority” and “authority” of the society bring hurdles in questioning. Both the person who is questioning and who is questioned should take the matter positively. One has to remember that “Nothing is perfect, except the end called ‘death’ “. Out of the box thinking brings changes to the society. One in million is enough for this.

    Happy Independence Day 🙂

  3. I feel it is one sided discussion about the student life, even its 10+2, Btech, Mtech or PhD. These may be some reasons for that.

    1. Asking question also depends on the person to whom you are asking? What about his personality?How he will react to me?
    2. Many discussions sometimes doesn’t provide you room to ask questions.
    3. Even many cases if you ask question then, punishment( it can be one or other way) is too envolved to ask that too..

    So in my view asking questions is purely based on self thinking and well executing it.(Based on situation demands)

  4. I like the way your site is set up. It has a awesome theme to it. I enjoy the graphics of your website. I wish I can create a Blog that looks as good as urs .

  5. Asking Question is the only way to get answer and clear doubts…Sooner we learn this,better for us
    If we never ask the answer is always no…
    Great Post Friend 🙂

  6. SO true mate! Reminds me of a quote. “Just Ask! More often than not, the answer is SURE! “

  7. an apt post !! To ask a question , one is expected to know what he is asking .. I mean that is the mindset .. I mean , we feel it would be silly to ask a certain question and we may be insulted by the tutor.
    Its all about our false ego ! Once we understand that it does not matter where we are standing and how stupid we may sound to the surrounding for clearing our doubts life becomes easier and possibilities of excelling increases .. fabulous post AJ !! loved it thoroughly !

  8. Thanks My Say. As a student as well as a teacher I have experienced this big problem related to students. The fear of asking actually leads to inferiority complex which become some time dangerous. Moreover, this also widens the gap between the teacher and the student and between fellow students.

  9. Thanks Harsha… It not only clears the doubt, but also brings confidence… People should encourage this.

  10. Thanks Vinay.

  11. As a teacher, I have always encouraged students to ask questions. “Bombard me with questions” is what I tell them. Most students don’t ask. It’s not fear or shyness, at least in my school. It’s plain laziness.

  12. Yes! Ask questions… you gain info, confidence.
    Good read.

  13. Totally agree. Its just the fear and battle with our own self that stops many from asking questions. Sometimes, even I have done it, but out of sheer laziness, or maybe that’s the excuse that I give myself.

  14. Agree. Language, laziness, culture, complexity all have negative impact on the student. The school/college and the teachers should understand this and encourage students. Participation is required in the class room, not the stereo type teaching.

  15. Hey Aamjunta – rights said; I am poor student who fear a lot in the class room and never get involved in the class room teaching. In my opinion, I think the parents should encourage and create an atmosphere in the initial days. And that can be extended to class room.

  16. A fear of asking is the basic root of the prevailing ignorance in society. Be it any reason then…if you won’t ask,you’ll remain at loss always, whatever be the case whichever be the domain!

  17. Hi, Neat post. There’s a problem along with your web site in internet explorer, could test this? IE still is the market leader and a large section of other folks will omit your magnificent writing because of this problem.

  18. Amazing! This blog looks just like my old one! Great choice of topic

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