#SOS: The Art of Help and Questions

I watched a TED talk by Michael Stevens about his channel VSauce and why adults don’t ask questions as often as children. As we get older we ask less questions and don’t ask for help as often as we do when we were younger. Why? As I watch younger children, especially those in Pre- K all the way up to 8th grade, ask questions. So curious about everything, but it seems when they reach high school and ultimately adulthood they stop asking for help or questions anymore. Why? I think I have identified the main reason.

In high school we are expected to solve the questions by ourselves and not rely on teachers for help- except for absolute emergencies. Yes, this trains students to be independent for college or life beyond high school, but it also makes students believe that they should know everything- even when they don’t. If they start asking questions or for help, they feel ashamed they don’t know the material. So they don’t ask.

As a student and educator, I have definitely felt this way. In high school, I was trained to rely on myself and not ask help. This proved detrimental. For example, I was assigned a project in Sociology Research Methods where I had to write a lengthy paper by using data from The General Social Survey (GSS) and then using Soc Abstracts (secondary data) to support the findings the GSS presented. I then had to come up with three hypotheses based on my findings. It’s confusing, I know. I tried to finish the assignment by myself…to mediocre results. Our kind professor gave our class a retry. On my second try I enlisted help from a tutor and a fellow classmate. It proved to be fruitful and I got an A for the assignment and for the class. Likewise, during the second semester of my freshman year, I had this writing professor who for some reason was a tough grader and gave C’s… no it wasn’t that I was a bad writer, in fact I got an A in first semester writing. Well, when I realized my professor was killing my grade, I enlisted my friend for help. I ended up with a B.

In summary, asking for help doesn’t mean that one is stupid; after all learning is the goal of school and life. In fact, a Dean once said,” I’m mostly interested in whether you felt you really learned something important and pushed yourself to go beyond what you thought you could do.” Also, sometimes, actually most of the time, two is better than one. I would like to hear your thoughts on this.  

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