Learning To Ask

I remember being in primary school and learning about mathematics. In the beginning we have learned addition like probably almost everybody and I can't remember having any problems with it. Subtraction was a little bit harder because for example the order in which you put the two numbers during subtraction matters.

But I remember having real problems with division. My friends got it pretty quickly and I asked them once or twice if they can tell me how it works and they answered something brief like

Yes sure, It's so easy. Just do this and that!

I just pretended that I understood everything, to don't come off as stupid. From now on I copied what others wrote as their answers to the exercises in hope, that soon we will switch to a different topic and I can just forget about division, like we could do it in other classes.

Some Things You Cannot Skip

In other classes all I did was remember something temporary until we had the exam and then I could forget about it, since the same topic was never questioned before.

Soon we switched to another topic mathematics. Finally! But to my surprise, I still needed division. I asked the teacher why we are still using division.

Everything we learn now and have learned so far, is going to be necessary and used in the future.

I was frustrated and scared at the same time. What will I do now? What will my parents say if I come home with a bad mark in the school report?

Learning to Ask

I have had two options. Either pretend to know it all and write bad exams or ask questions for things I did not understand. Do you still remember when you were sitting in class or maybe in the office and the teacher or presenter asks

Does anybody have any questions?

You want to ask but you don't because you are afraid that your question might be too simple or even stupid. But then there is a hero! Somebody asks the exact question you wanted to ask. You feel very happy and also realize, that nobody laughs at that person or looks at him or her awkward. You might even realize that many others were like you. They have had the same question but just did not ask because of the same reasons you had.

I had to become that person myself. The one who asks questions even if everybody else seems to have understood. That is how I learned division and overcame the fear of it. Nowadays I really like mathematics since it can be like a puzzle and in the end you always know if you are right or wrong by comparing results.

Asking questions should not stop in school. I know many developers who are very knowledgable but also don't ask many questions even though when they didn't get a specific topic because they could come over as incompetent - since developers should always have in depth knowledge about every technology right? Oh yeah, and also about MS Word, Excel and printers.

No developer in the world is able to know every thing, not even a 10x developer. I'm not saying that you should not do research on yourself, but if you feel you don't understand something, just want to have a quick explanation or an in depth explanation from a respected person, don't hesitate to ask and do not get trapped in the paradigm of I have to know everything. The best senior developers I know of personally, always ask questions and they say it if they didn't understand something.


Put away your wrong pride and don't be afraid to ask. Asking won't decrease your skills, but it will improve it and often much faster than if you would not. Asking and understanding is more time efficient and less stress for you than to pretend to know it all.

We all grow faster in a much happier way by helping each other.