It doesn’t hurt to ask

Back in high school, I wasn’t a very good student. I had a close to perfect attendance records but when it came to my grades, I was nowhere near perfect. It’s wasn’t because I wasn’t trying or anything. It was more because I didn’t care too much. There wasn’t any motivation to do well in school. I wasn’t thinking about how my grades could affect the decision of my post secondary schools. I just wanted to graduate high school and get it over with.

I wouldn’t say that my grades in high school were bad. They were more like mediocre marks where it was just enough to pass and get into the next grade. I didn’t try as hard as I should have and I know that I was capable of achieving better grades than what I was getting. But I wanted to be an average kid who was getting average marks. I didn’t want to be known as the kid that was better than the rest.

My grades as a junior were pretty good because it was my first year in high school and I was adjusting to the new atmosphere. I didn’t want to clown around in class anymore because I thought high school was for mature students. I concentrated very hard that year and I got A’s and B’s in most of my classes.

I understood most of the topics that the teacher was teaching. I rarely put up my hand to ask questions. I didn’t ask because I was afraid of feeling stupid. I would wait and see if someone else would put up their hands to ask first and usually there is. I didn’t want to put up my hand and ask a question that might sound stupid. Even if it was, the teacher would tell the class that there’s no such thing as a stupid question. But there are such things as stupid questions. High school kids probably ask stupid questions all the time. Heck, even some college students ask stupid questions.

I was one of the few students who understood math fairly quickly. I didn’t ask any questions in that class either because I took in everything that was being taught. I didn’t have to do any math homework or study for a test to get good marks. Most of that just came to me naturally. I was good enough in math that I would be tutoring most of the students that sat around me. Everyone thought I was a genius or something. One year, I sat down to write the math exam and finished it before everyone else. I completed the exam so quickly that the teacher had time to mark it and give me my grade before I left the room. I didn’t get perfect though but I was close. I received a 97% on that exam.

But the following year, I got lazy and stopped studying altogether. That was a bad move because I started to slack off and eventually, I didn’t quite understand everything that was being taught. Trigonometry is probably my worse subject in mathematics. I had a hard time understand all the rules. Even with the easy hints that the teacher offered wasn’t helping. You probably remember, SOH CAH TOA.

sin A = opposite/hypotenuse
cos A = adjacent/hypotenuse
tan A = opposite/adjacent

And then there were the reciprocal of those functions which were cosecant, secant and cotangent. I think I must have arrived in class late that year because I don’t remember trigonometry very well. I do remember getting a very low grade on a math test. And when it came to exam time, a large portion of it was based on trigonometry.

I didn’t ask the teacher for help and this caused me to fail that class. I had to retake the course in summer school or else I would have been left behind in the school year. They’ll let me continue to the next grade but I was required to have four math credits before graduating.

Even during summer school I had a hard time with Trigonometry. It was summer and attending classes was the last thing I wanted to do. All of my friends were outside having fun and I was sitting inside learning math. I remember one time, I got so bored that I fell asleep. When I woke up, there was a small pool of drool all over my binder. I quickly wiped it off but not quick enough because my friend saw it. She was sitting right beside me but she didn’t say anything. Yes, I know. It was very awkward.

I managed to pass that class but just barely. Again, I didn’t want to ask the teacher any question so when it came to something I didn’t understand, I tried to figure it out on my own. I probably could have done it but it was summer time so I didn’t spend too much time on homework. In the end, I didn’t quite figure it out.

It took me a while to understand that it didn’t hurt to ask a question. I was never one to ask questions because I accepted things at face value. If someone told me the sky was blue then the sky was blue. I wasn’t too curious about why it was blue. I look at it and saw that it was blue and moved on. I realized later that there was more to it than what people said. I now know that the sky is blue because of scattered sunlight bouncing off the molecules in the atmosphere.

Nowadays, I find myself asking a lot of questions, even stupid ones. But I don’t realize that they’re stupid until it’s too late. But even if the question was stupid, at least I would know about it and I’ll think twice before I ask it again. If you don’t ask then you’ll never know. It’s a simple fundamental rule of life. You’re not going to know what to do with it unless you ask yourself what you want to do. And you’ll never know what’s on other people’s mind unless you put the question out there for someone to answer.