Hearing the Real Question Asked

BrianIt’s spring, with sunnier, warmer days on the increase. Night temperatures, however, can still drop into the 40s, calling for the furnace to run. Tandy sets the thermostat on 62 at night. When I woke up the other morning, I donned my familiar sweatshirt, brewed the tea, and sat down to the computer without thinking of the temperature one way or another.

When she got up an hour later and came down the hall, she quizzically asked, “You weren’t cold this morning? I notice that you didn’t turn up the heat.” morningteaI replied that I hadn’t noticed, had my sweatshirt on, and had been drinking cup after cup of hot tea. Then it hit me: I hadn’t turned up the heat as usual so that she would get up to a warmer house.

I said, “I’m sorry. I didn’t take care of you this morning.” She smiled—not about the heat but that I had figured this thing out after a minimum of babbling about not being cold.

person20question_11 Husbands—the learning curve is always curving. I’ve been in marriage school 42 years and have numerous degrees in marriage. But with marriage, no degree is terminal—unless the husband wants to be terminal.

A similar truth holds with student questions. I’m sure instructors everywhere get dumb questions. Scraping my nerves the most is “When is the assignment due?” The course web site has the assignment calendar. Other tedious questions include ones about what I have just talked about with arm waving and voice inflections; or they are about things covered in detailed written instructions that the student hasn’t thought to read.stupid-question

There is an upside to this. Sometimes a student wants a sense of participation, thinking, “If I ask a question, it shows I’m interested.” It’s a way of reaching out to connect with the instructor, not necessarily a mindless thing. Granted, a more carefully thought out question would be more pleasing to hear, but often, the point is to initiate or maintain the sense of care and concern.

Instructors want students to be interested in learning. Students also want a little TLC, and the cost at times to the instructor is hearing the real question behind the one asked.

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