I teach electronics in Pensacola to Navy and Marine students. I have done this collectively for about 19 years. I have learned many things from these young people. I wanted to share with you briefly some of the findings.
Asking questions – I have told my students for years the difference between good and great is sometimes a couple of questions. Humility is a vital part of learning. We must disregard what others might think of us and obtain the things we need, knowledge is one of those things. The question you don’t ask will be waiting for you the next time the subject comes up.
There is no such thing as a stupid question – this simply is not true. Our questions have to be pertinent to the subject. I have been in the middle of teaching electrical motors and had students ask me a question about a Star Wars movie? Keep the questions relevant to the subject. If you are asking a question just to hear your own voice, you will invariably end up with a question that lacks intelligence, so to speak.
Fear of what others think – For the great questions, this is the biggest stumbling block. If you have been blessed with an overwhelming amount of confidence you can skip past this part, for the other 90% this is critical. Some of the best questions heard in my classrooms are from the most socially ackward. They have a treasure trove of ideas swirling in their introverted brain, let it out, your contributions are needed in a discussion.
Try first to understand then to be understood – I have stolen this one from the late Stephen Covey. Let the idea simmer in your thoughts for a few minutes. If, after a brief time it stills looks like the New York Times crossword puzzle, it is time to ask your question.
Do not steal others peoples time – give others the chance to ask questions. You might be surprised to find your answer is answered in the question they ask.
Learning happens best when it is a community event – we are stronger when we rely on each other. “No man is an island”, no truer words were ever spoken when considering learning a new fact, concept, language… Rely on others and their gifts, learning will accelerate for all involved in the process.
Hopefully, this will encourage you to slow down, listen to others and ask great follow up questions. I base many of my conversations with others around questions for them. I already know what I think, I am trying to find out what they know. Give this a try; take one conversation in the next few days and act like you are doing an investigation paper. Take opportunities to ask questions, with follow up questions after each idea. There is a wealth of knowledge around you everyday, find a way to tap into the valuable sources. Are there any questions at this time?