When to Ask Questions

I have started to reread Stephen King’s It at nights to cure my insomnia.  I’m being reminded that I really enjoyed “Part I: The Shadow Before”, which gives background on the adult lives of the members of the Loser’s Club.  In this and other Stephen King books, I often find myself enjoying Stephen King’s development of his characters, but then that becomes lost once the book starts to become a horror book—which is what Stephen King writes!  But perhaps my impression of It this time around will be different, and I will see depth in the horror parts of the book, not just the parts about character development.

On and off, I will blog about parts of this book that stand out to me.  This will be similar to what I did when I was reading two of Robert Heinlein’s science fiction books and blogged about the bits of wisdom that were in them.  Sometimes, what I blogged about was integral to the plot; often, it was not.

On page 10, Bill is fixing his brother Georgie’s paper boat.  We read: “George watched him closely, but without speaking or questioning.  Bill didn’t like George talking to him while he did stuff, but George had learned that if he just kept his mouth shut, Bill would usually explain what he was doing.”

When should I be quiet, and when should I ask questions?  When I was at Jewish Theological Seminary, an older lady was helping me with my Hebrew, and she often quoted to me (in Hebrew) an old Jewish saying that “the shy person does not learn.”  The meaning of this saying is that people who are bashful about asking questions will not learn.

There’s wisdom to that, but things can get complex, at least in my life.  There have been times when my mind has wandered, and so I end up asking a question that has already been answered.  I guess that I was right to ask the question, for my knowledge became solidified once I received the answer.  But I end up looking like a dunce.  I should work on listening.

Then there were classes, in which participation was mandated.  As a result, I had to come up with things to say.  As a result, I asked a lot of questions, which probably annoyed people.  I mean, once I teach, I hope that I don’t get a student like myself—asking me questions that may require encyclopedic knowledge!  But there were times when I talked, and it wasn’t because of my participation grade.  Some of it was a matter of drawing attention to myself—since I can easily become lost in a crowd (or a group smaller than a crowd), and I feel a need to impress people in order to make friends, or to advance academically, or whatever.

I don’t really regret the times that I asked questions, for that was how I interacted with the material that I was taught.  Plus, many of the answers that I have heard have stayed with me and guided how I see issues today.  I think, however, that I should have tempered my asking of questions with other things: giving other students a chance to talk, listening rather than thinking of the next question I could ask, and even going to the library or doing research to try to answer my questions.  Ever since I have stopped taking classes (on account of where I am in my doctoral program), I have come to appreciate doing the last one.  And blogging has been conducive to my research.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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