Let’s Make Learning a Joyful Experience

Have you ever witnessed some curious soul ask someone a simple question only to get the response, “You don’t know what (fill in the blank) means?” Granted, there are some people out there who answer a question with this question out of pure surprise with no intention of being condescending. However, there are also those who ask this question just to be able to inflate themselves in order to make others look small, whether consciously or not. However, whether this question is asked with good or bad intentions, it is beneficial for society as a whole to avoid such questions altogether. Why? First of all, when a person asks another person a question, it’s usually because they themselves don’t know the answer. So to answer that person’s question with “You Don’t Know What (Fill in the blank) Means?” is basically a waste of everyone’s time. In addition, if that person already felt uncomfortable about asking the question in the first place, you not only made him/her feel like an idiot, but he/she probably won’t ask you another question again. The sad thing is, after such an embarrassing experience, that person may avoid asking questions to others period. Second, how does one freely learn and contribute to society if one becomes intimidated or discouraged to ask people questions. Truly intelligent beings freely share their knowledge and wisdom with others without making others feel unintelligent, because they have a deep understanding that what benefits one benefits the whole. When we provide answers to questions in a non-judgmental and loving manner, the “questioners” develop a desire to continue learning. The more people enjoy the experience of learning, the more knowledge and wisdom is spread to every person they touch. Here are some examples of my own personal experiences with the question, “You Don’t Know What (Fill in the blank) Means?”:

The Passive Me

I was in seventh grade, and I had asked one of my classmates what a Swatch was since I had never heard of or seen one before, and it seemed to be a popular topic. The answer I received, along with a disgusted look, was, “You don’t even know what a Swatch is? Everyone knows what a Swatch is!” I felt dumb, but didn’t say anything. Then, one day, I saw one of the girls in my class wearing Swatches starting from her wrist and ending at her upper arm. There must have been at least six or seven of them. They looked really cool, so I hinted to my dad that I wanted one for my birthday, but I received a cheap Timex watch instead. Oh, how badly I wanted just one of those unique, vibrantly colored Swatches. It’s funny how such desires fade so quickly as you get older.

The Passive-Aggressive Me

When I was in high school, if someone said “You don’t know what (fill in the blank) means?” in a condescending tone to me or someone else, I would act like it didn’t bother me, although I would be angry with them on the inside. Rather than confronting them, I would just avoid them, judge them or resent them in silence. Sometimes, I would make sarcastic comments to them to give them a taste of their own medicine. Of course, this type of behavior benefits no one.

The Aggressive Me

After the Army’s Basic Training, I continued on to Advanced Individual Training (aka AIT). At the start of this training, I quickly realized I was surrounded by some of the most intelligent people I’d ever met. It was very intimidating because I felt like an object on that Sesame Street (or Electric Company…not sure which) song, “One of these things is not like the others.” One day, during class, after being fed up with a few of the “know-it-alls,” I exploded. I softly asked my classmate sitting next to me a question, and she answered as loud as she could in the most condescending tone, “You don’t even know what (fill in the blank) means?” I then replied, “MF, if I knew what it meant, I wouldn’t have asked you the freaking question! Now are you going to share the damn answer, or are you going continue making me feel like a complete idiot in front of your audience?” Surprisingly, she gave me the answer very softly and never humiliated another person again, at least not while I was around. Ironically, we later became friends.

The Assertive Me

A similar situation occurred in AIT with a different classmate. We were on the same team, and I asked her a question. She answered with her eyes wide open, “You don’t even know what (fill in the blank) means?” So I replied gently, “You know, when you asked me a question the other day, did I simply answer your question, or did I make you feel stupid?” To my surprise (again), she became teary eyed and apologized for being so rude. She then shared a personal story with me about how her own husband told her that she has a tendency to make others feel inferior to her, to include him. She then said so sincerely, “I really need to change. Thank you.” It was a priceless moment, and I vowed from that moment on to try my hardest to convey a message to another soul in an assertive (when necessary), yet, loving manner rather than being passive, passive-aggressive, or aggressive. Granted, until this day, I’m working on being less passive-aggressive, because I recently realized and accepted that I still have the tendencies. I know it’s not an attractive quality, and I plan on disowning it completely.

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~ by Bobbie on January 11, 2012.

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