This statement makes me laugh, as I immediately recall one of my highschool teachers. He was a scary looking guy (kind of looked like Godzilla), and he used to say “there’s no such thing as a stupid question – only stupid people”. Yikes! How’s that for inviting dialogue in the classroom?!?!
And while I don’t think it’s appropriate to announce the “stupid people” part in a classroom, I do think there is such thing as a stupid question.
The article Ink Out Loud: There’s no such thing as a stupid question,’ and other ailments lavender cures defines stupid questions as:
1. Those questions that have already been answered, but the asker wasn’t listening or paying attention.
2. Questions that can be answered with a scant amount of research and less than a minute of time.
3. Questions of which the answer should be painfully obvious to any person with a pulse who has lived on this earth for more than a decade.
from: Feder, Mandy (2013). “Ink Out Loud: There’s no such thing as a stupid question,’ and other ailments lavender cures”. Lake County Record-Bee.
And how frustrating it is for the instructor (and probably the other students) to deal with! How can we politely respond?? With patience, I suppose. And if the question is because the student hasn’t been paying attention, maybe throw the question back at the student to figure out themselves (they can always ask a peer who was paying attention). I also like to say to the student “great question! Why don’t you try to find the answer tonight and tell us about it tomorrow”. (This response has also saved me when I’m not sure of an answer myself) 🙂