I’m not sure exactly why, but Stanford has an unspoken stigma against asking questions in class. Ask too many questions and you become “that guy.” Pipe up and the entire class turns to you like the creepy, synchronized, green alien dudes in Toy Story. Once the professor starts calling you by name it’s game over.
I’ve always been confused why question-asking feels so taboo in a school so obsessed with intellectual vitality. Are we willing to compromise our understanding for the sake of looking like we have our act together? Is it really so bad to admit weakness? Are we too timid to risk humiliation at the hands of a Nobel laureate, or to face Socratic-style evisceration in a Law School seminar? (OK, that’s a fair point.)
I’m no exception to this rule, and throughout my time here, asking questions in large lectures has always brought up my pulse and threatened to jumble my words to the point of incoherence. (Pro tip: asking questions should actually be less scary in large lectures, because fewer people know who you are!) Better to risk looking like a fool in class than to have it incontrovertibl
I want to take this opportunity to thank the question-askers. You guys rock. Ever notice the rumble of shuffling paper right after you ask a question? Yeah, that’s because everyone else had the same question, they were dying for someone to ask it, and they’re now frantically taking notes. Ever seen the masses turn to you with widened eyes? Yeah, that’s the look of a hundred students trying to convey “thank you” via ESP. You keep us from keeling over every time the prof skips the proof or dismisses the big step as “obvious.” You, sir or madam, are insistent, attentive, and on your game. In a phrase: you go, Glen Coco.