Ask a Stupid Question Day – September 28, 2021

On National Ask a Stupid Question Day, September 28 — or, if that day falls on a weekend, the last school day of September — there really is no such thing as a dumb question. At some point during the 1980s — the researchable resources in terms of exact details are scant — American school teachers recognized that some of the questions their shyer students were holding back would make for fruitful classroom discussions, should those questions be asked out loud. On National Ask a Stupid Question Day, teachers have the perfect excuse to tap into the inquisitiveness of their students.

History of Ask a Stupid Question Day

As indicated above, the results of research into the beginning of National Ask a Stupid Question day don’t turn up much. The closest we have to an origin story for the holiday is that at some point in the 1980s, teachers dreamed it up to encourage their students to ask questions without fear — fear of ridicule from classmates, of a dismissive response from teachers, of any number of things. 

We’ve all been there. Think back. It’s one of the times when the subject matter strikes a chord in us, and there’s something we really want more information about, but we’re afraid that we’re the only ones who don’t already “get it,” so we keep the question to ourselves. It’s unfortunate that intellectual curiosity is often frowned upon by the “cool kids.” But on National Ask a Stupid Question Day, pupils can feel at ease to set those fears aside. 

“How come a semi-permeable membrane only lets molecules through one way, and not equally on both sides?” “If a black hole can suck in light, why isn’t our whole solar system being drawn into one right now?” “When Johnny Tremain spilled that molten silver on his arm, why didn’t he pass out from the pain?” On the last school day of the month, is the day to set aside shyness and social fears, and go ahead and ask questions like these.We do know that some three decades after the holiday’s inaugural celebration, a book called “Make Just One Change: Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions” was published, and it included a “Question Formulation Technique,” a semi-scientific method of coming up with queries that were appropriate for the classroom. It appears that the first celebrations of Ask a Stupid Question Day in India coincided with this book’s dissemination. And logically enough, the holiday had seen recognition in the U.K. even before that.

Students are reminded on National Ask A Stupid Question Day to let no question go unanswered. It’s no mistake that every so often in the U.S there’s an outcry for educators to receive pay commensurate with the true amount of work they do and level of professionalism at which they do it. So, kids, ask away! 

Ask a Stupid Question Day timeline

1980s
“Anyone? Anyone?”

American school teachers recognize the need to hear even the most unusual questions from students, to cultivate real learning in the classroom, and Ask a Stupid Question Day is born.

2011
Right there in black and white

Authors Dan Rothstein and Luz Santana publish “Make Just One Change,” turning the spotlight onto unasked and unanswered questions in classrooms around the world.

2009
Just across the pond

British newspaper “The Daily Telegraph” reports that Ask a Stupid Question Day is being observed in the U.K.

2013
“Why not us too?”

Indian newspaper “The Hindu” reports on Ask a Stupid Question Day, ushering in the celebration of the holiday in the country.

How to Observe National Ask A Stupid Question Day

  1. Well, the obvious one …

    Ask a “stupid” question yourself. If there’s something you’ve always wanted to know, and you know someone you think has got the answer, ask away! If they give you a look, just say, “It’s the 28th of September, my friend!” and make them answer anyway. You’d be surprised what you can learn if you lose the fear of learning!

  2. Be open to answering a “stupid” question

    If you’re a teacher, even better, but even if you’re not, be ready and eager to field questions from others, the answers to which lie within your sphere of expertise. Be like that teacher who says on the first day of class, “There’s no such thing as a stupid question.” Because as you know, a teacher can take any question and its answer and turn it into an open-ended, illuminating discussion among a group of knowledge-hungry peers.

  3. Celebrate on social media

    Hey, if there’s any place for stupid questions, it’s the internet, right? We jest, but the socials are indeed a good place to not only find out about Ask a Stupid Question Day, but to spread the information as well. Try the hashtag #askastupidquestionday and see what you can see about this informative and educational holiday.

5 Interesting Facts About Teachers’ Pay

  1. It’s coming from somewhere

    The average teacher spends around $500 of their own money for classroom supplies in a given year.

  2. Is this fair?

    According to the Economic Policy Institute, teachers are paid 21.4% less than other professionals with similar education and training.

  3. Not so great a score

    The United States consistently ranks seventh in the world — we’re talking about “the best country in the world,” here — in teacher pay.

  4. “A rider on your contract …”

    In the state of New York, the highest state in terms of teachers’ pay, teachers are required to earn their Masters degree within five years of hire.

  5. Low end of the spectrum

    In the lowest paying state for teachers, Oklahoma, half of all teachers earn less than $34K a year.

Ask a Stupid Question Day dates

YearDateDay
2021September 28Tuesday
2022September 28Wednesday
2023September 28Thursday
2024September 28Saturday
2025September 28Sunday

Let’s get social

Here are some special hashtags for the day.

#question #classroom #shy

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