An Educated Guess

Musings on life in general

Question Nothing

It’s sad that the above quote is entirely useless. If you teach your children to question everything, what good will that realistically do them? I’ll tell you!

It will make them extremely frustrated, because our entire society, from the ground up, is predicated on people NOT questioning things. I’m not even talking about politics, here, I’m talking about your average day-to-day life.

You’re not supposed to ask questions in school. Sure, you can ask for clarifications of the material being taught to you, but if you start questioning that material? Not only are you slowing down the class so that everyone else gets behind, but it’s entirely possible that your teacher may not even be able to give you a satisfactory answer until you get to college, and sometimes not even then. The current school system simply isn’t set up to accommodate students who really want to learn, because a student who really wants to learn doesn’t just want to study individual subjects, they want to learn about everything.

You’re not supposed to ask questions at work. When you start a new job, there’s a tremendous pressure to simply DO the work. The more time your job spends training you, the less money they’re making. Everyone has their own job to do, and no one wants to take the time out of their day to answer your questions.

You’re not even supposed to ask questions at the doctor’s office or the hospital. The doctors are all overworked and literally don’t have time to sit and explain to you exactly what’s going on inside your body. Especially at the hospital, where you may only see a doctor for five minutes. And if you think of a question after the doctor has gone? Too bad. You probably won’t see him or her again until tomorrow.

The one place where it’s acceptable to ask questions is at home, with your parents. But what are their qualifications, and how much can you trust their answers? They may not be trained or schooled in order to provide the answers you want, but at least nowadays you can find most of the answers you seek on the internet. Even then, there’s no gatekeeper for that information, so how can you know if it’s true?

Sure, you may say, but what about in the sciences? They get paid to question everything, right?

Wrong! In fact, we’ve created such a climate of results-oriented research that people are often afraid to question established theories and papers. Most scientific journals aren’t interested in publishing research that simply reinforces established theories, or even worse, contradicts established theories. This creates a “chilling effect” in which scientists refrain from even doing those experiments since they know they won’t get published. And if you don’t get published, you can lose your job.

So where exactly is the place to question things, in our society? Where are these children who are being taught to question everything going to fit in?

Nowhere. They’re going to end up sad and frustrated, and THAT is sad and frustrating.

What do we do about it? Instead of just teaching your child to question everything, you have to be willing to take time out of your day to answer other people’s questions. We have to work to create a society that welcomes questions, so please teach your child to ask questions, but also teach them to answer them.

  • 27 April 2012
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