One of the most important skills you will ever learn in your life is learning which questions to ask and when to ask them. You will never learn how to do much of anything in your life if you do not learn how to ask questions and not only that, but to question the answers you get in return.
For instance, “I want to learn about paganism,” is not a question. It is a statement. “Teach me about paganism,” is also not a question. It is a command, even if you add the word please. Think about what you really want to ask. “Can you teach me about paganism?” Ok, you’re getting closer to the question you really want answered. “Will you teach me about paganism?” Even closer, but the topic at hand is a large one. Look for where you actually want to start learning. A good question to start working with is “What makes Wicca different from other pagan paths?” This question is a good question because it is specific and gives the person you are talking with an idea of what you are actually interested in learning.
Here’s another example. Say you want to learn how to bake bread. First of all you would find someone that knows how (the right person). Then you would wait until they have the time to help you and a place ready to show you how to bake bread. You would try to read up a little ahead of time if you can and show up well rested and ready to learn, hopefully without any preconceptions (the right time). Now you could ask them what the chemical structure of bread is, why it browns when it bakes, or what type of butter to use on it, but none of these are very good questions to help you towards your goal of learning how to bake bread. True it might be useful information, but you can always learn the answers to those questions later once you have learned the basics. So your first questions should be, “What are the ingredients we use?” and “How do we start?” two specific and useful questions.
A good question asked at the right time to the right person helps the person answering it almost as much as it helps the person asking it. If the person you are asking questions to has no idea of your level of knowledge of the subject or your specific area of interest at the moment they cannot help you nearly as well as they could if they knew these things. Good questions are one way of helping a person understand what you want to know and what level of difficulty you want it explained at.
Of course there are sources of information other than people, but books and internet articles can’t answer questions as they come up. They are a good place to start narrowing down your question though.
Santa Cruz Public Libraries