Life & General · PhD Progress & Thoughts

There Are No Dumb Questions

This blog seems (now) to be a 50-50 split between my PhD progress, and my personal opinions. This post displays the best of both worlds, with a topic that impacts students and non-students.

Now, I usually preface classes and tutorials with ‘there are no dumb questions’, but I’d like to introduce a clause that makes the previous statement irrelevant.
There are no dumb questions, true, but I may get annoyed when asked a question that is quickly, easily, and comprehensively answered by a fast Google search. Even if you have a very good question, I appreciate it if my office hours aren’t consumed by questions like ‘explain the difference between macro and micro economics’ and ‘what do managers do?’.

Of course, there will be circumstances where this isn’t possible. A small child asking a question, a student without internet access and is physically in the classroom, or while in an environment where internet usage is frowned upon (like in the cinema).
However, in the vast majority of cases that I’m asked questions, the person is on the internet. Asking me a question via Twitter, or over email, when the question could have quickly been answered before I even saw it. It would be nice if, occasionally, people would check Google before asking me things like ‘how do I get internet when the cell towers are down in my area’?, so at the very least the question could be prefaced with ‘I checked, but couldn’t understand a meaningful solution’.

In that situation, I would be happy to provide my answer when a person’s use of Google was insufficient or my expertise allows for nuance that a search engine lacks.
(To answer the earlier question, use satellite networks – the same ones that rural farmers do. Mobile tethering and pocket wifi also have various workarounds for blackouts and natural disaster situations if you do your research before the event. To provide power, you can now buy solar-powered phone and laptop chargers online or from camping supply stores). 

So, I’ll reiterate. There are no dumb questions, but we’ll be able to move forward with our education much faster if you could take a little initiative and try to source the answer yourselves (when outside teaching hours).


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