During the 1980s a number of teachers realized that students weren’t asking questions for fear of sounding stupid. In response, they created a day dedicated to letting students ask the questions they were usually afraid to ask. By making a place that was safe for all questions, students were encouraged to open up and share their curiosity with the class, without the fear of being ridiculed. Since then Ask a Stupid Question Day has been an annual tradition celebrated on September 28 by American schools everywhere, and has more recently expanded into Britain and India.
The point of Ask of Stupid Question Day, of course, is that there really is no such thing as a stupid question. Some of the smartest people who ever lived are often the ones who ask the most questions. The most notable case in point is Albert Einstein, who was famously quoted as saying “The important thing is not to stop questioning.”
In his book, “Ask a Stupid Question,” author Clive Griffith writes that “Behind most ‘Eureka’ moments we do not find the great inventors, researchers and scientists suddenly unveiling the bright light of truth, so much as finding the right question to ask that will lead to it.”
For us in business and technical fields, we can find that our curiosity has dulled over the years, particularly if we have been in the same role or organizations for a long time. Sometime people don’t ask questions about the way things are because some aspects are so ingrained – they’ve always been done a certain way.
What are stupid questions you could be asking in your field? Are there assumptions worth revisiting? All it takes is somebody with a naïve curiosity to ask an apparently stupid question, only to find that nobody knows the answer, and voila there’s a big opportunity available for improvement. So for Ask a Stupid Question Day, take a few minutes to see if there are “stupid” questions you could be asking that could open up new insights.