Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Is asking the wrong question essential to learning?

I’ve been asking myself some questions lately. None of the answers seem right and/or relevant to me. I suppose I must be asking the wrong questions. People claim that asking the right question will give you the right answer (eg, source). This seems rather obvious. How to ask the right instead of the wrong question?

It has been alleged though never substantiated that Albert Einstein once argued the following:

“If I had only one hour to save the world, I would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem, and only five minutes finding the solution.”

Possibly an unknown academic at Yale University (source)

In my experience, a right problem analysis is as difficult as asking the right question. We are quite skilled in determining the correctness of an analysis, but we often fail to verify completeness. Despite my audit background, it’s hard verifying the completeness of qualitative rather than quantitative questions.

There’s an intriguing advice in Cunningham’s Law: “the best way to get the right answer on the internet is not to ask a question; it’s to post the wrong answer.” Note: markings in quote by me. This is an example of reverse psychology; see my related blogs. The cunning part in his last name is quite funny.

Quite possibly, the entire process of asking the right or the wrong question is part of our learning process. Perhaps, there might just not be any shortcuts for saving time. The right answer to the right question may only reveal itself in due time, when we’ve finished learning.

A related and very interesting Albert Einstein quote:

“Most teachers waste their time by asking questions which are intended to discover what a pupil does not know. Whereas the true art of questioning has for its purpose to discover what the pupil knows or is capable of knowing.” Note: markings in quote by me. (eg, source-1, source-2)

My “answer” may not fit in our “time = money” culture. The articles, which I noticed in my search, are all focused on finding shortcuts and saving valuable time. Implicitly, it suggests: why bother learning? Still, my “answer” gives me peace of mind. Moreover, the simplicity of this “answer” is just beautiful.

Wrong (1999) by Novastar
artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-artist, Wiki-song

Why should I bother
I don’t need no other to be on myself
Why should I bother
I don’t need no other, no no

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless in quotes or stated otherwise.


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