PIDP 3250 – ” I don’t know.”

The topic of saying, “I don’t know” to students came up in the forum discussion. Some peers felt it a relief to admit to their students that they don’t know everything. I find it a challenge and to say, “I don’t know” and embarrassing to acknowledge lack of knowledge about subject matter. Unfortunately, there is a negative stigma attached to a teacher saying they don’t know. Ultimately, are we, the teacher, not supposed to be all-knowing? I am afraid to admit to a lack of knowledge because students might take this as an admission of inadequacy.
I repeatedly assure my students that there are no stupid questions. I understand and accept that my students do not have all the answers. But what does it mean when I do not have all the answers? In my own experience as a teacher, I found that even after teaching the same course many times, there were still questions from students that I could not adequately answer. I have learnt that instead of delaying responses to students with the excuse that the answer will be taught soon, admitting that I do not always know opens up numerous possibilities in the classroom. This led me to question if I can use my lack of knowledge to facilitate student learning. I can use embrace this opportunity and ask students in the class if they have an answer or a possible suggestion. I realize that an admission of “I don’t know” can lead to a positive outcome. It assists in developing a trusting relationship between students and myself, and it stimulates student participation, providing an opportunity for learning through meaningful student interaction. By admitting that I do not know shows students that they too can be less afraid or ashamed to admit their own ignorance and uncertainties.


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