Image for Letters to my grandchildren (25)

Dear Chilliwops,

When I was a little boy my mother often said to me, “children are to be seen and not heard.”  Do you believe that?  Thinking back on it now I find that hard to believe as well.

Perhaps my mother said that because I asked too many questions.  Now, I ask you, can one ask too many questions?

As an adult I have encouraged your parents to express their views – even when I have disagreed with them.  Sometimes I have challenged them on various matters so they may carefully think about the issues, research thoroughly and broaden their outlook and understanding of the real world.

When they were little I also encouraged them to ask questions.  That is part of growing up and part of the learning process.  Hopefully not only has questioning aided them in learning the subjects taught at school when they were younger but also in expanding their general knowledge.

At one time in my youth I can remember being afraid to ask questions because I didn’t want to look stupid.  I would sometimes think that others might consider my question to be silly; that it would reveal me to be a bit dumb.

Well, that was a pretty dumb thought wasn’t it?  I soon found the courage to speak up and guess what, nobody thought my question was dumb!  I also discovered other kids wanted to know the answer to the same question.

This is an age of rapid interaction through electronic mail and social media.  There is also an expectation we will respond quickly to matters we may encounter at school or at work, whether that is a casual after school job or full time employment.

As a consequence of the demand for quick results or quick answers there is always a possibility of poor decision-making.

It is important we slow down; ask the right questions and more questions to get it right.

Asking the right question is very important.  Do you seek to better understand the subject matter?  Are you seeking clarification?

Better understanding an issue or a subject being discussed or taught at school will help you remember it.  One shouldn’t just make assumptions and fill in the gaps from our lack of understanding.  The result could be missing important parts to the subject, not properly grasping the facts and therefore not fully understanding it.

Asking the right question such as, “How did you reach that conclusion?” will also help you understand the subject.  You might ask, “Why not do more research before making that conclusion?”  Digging deeper into the subject, trying to understand the background or the underlying basis of a subject will help clarify things.

You will also win the respect of your teacher or employer.  Challenge them.  When I was at High School I often challenged my Economics teacher and my History teacher.  By then I had managed to build the courage to do so.  I think my dear old Mum had given up by then.

Thinking back now I am sure my teachers respected me for it.  Apart from anything else, it encouraged them to get it right too.

I later discovered my classmates loved the interaction in class because they were given answers to questions they had wanted to ask but were either afraid to do so.  Like me when I was younger they thought they would look stupid.  Nothing is further from the truth.

Most importantly don’t just make assumptions.  Don’t try to fill in the gaps from what you might imagine to be the truth.  Discover the truth, the facts, by exploring.

Exploring involves asking questions that dig deeper or possibly broadening the subject.  You might ask, “Can you please clarify that?” or “Does what you say always apply?” or “Can we please look a little deeper at this matter so we can better understand it?” or “How does this relate to what we learnt before?”

These are just a few examples to have you think about how you might approach subjects at school or work.  Think about what you are trying to achieve?  You are trying to achieve good results at school or at work.  The best way to do that is to understand.  The best way to understand is to ask questions.

Go for it.

Love always,
Your Popple

*Anton Clever is well into his seventh decade ... a former teacher, soldier, farm hand, lawyer and businessman (not in that order).  He has travelled extensively for business and for international clients.  More recently he has been writing ... currently a thriller (which will probably not be worthy of publication, he says) and has written but not published a series of “postcards” from various places (including, but not limited to, Victoria, Papua New Guinea, England, France, USA, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Iran) referring to experiences in those places.  He has also written for several magazines on unusual subjects but matters worthy of debate.