Posted by: Laura | March 28, 2014


Why does A2 + B2 = C2?  Why do you need to do the same thing to every part of an equation when multiply or dividing another part? Why were the French people so opposed to God during the French Revolution? Why is it important for there to be separation between church and state?  Why was Jesus upset by the things he saw happening in the temple?  Why is God’s universal law of self-sacrificing love the only way to true freedom and happiness?

As some of you know, I love questions, especially the why ones.  But ever since I have come to Cambodia I have had a problem.  Cambodians hate why questions.  Sometimes a few students will try to answer the what questions, and a few will even make a go at the how questions.  But invariably I always followed up all those questions with the dreaded why question.  That is when everything becomes quiet and they just look at you blankly.  It has been quiet frustrating really.  From my point of view, you aren’t learning much if you don’t know the why.  My students would be happy and quick to memorize anything I write down, but as soon as you ask them why it works that way, they get all confused and can’t seem think it though.

Over the past few months, I am actually beginning to understand more of what this problem entails.  Cambodian culture in general doesn’t really care about why.  It may be partially a result of their tumultuous history in recent times. I don’t know.  But most Cambodians are farmers.  The farmer cares about growing his rice.  He cares about learning how to grow the rice.  He wants to know what to put on the rice fields to make it grow.  But he doesn’t care about why the rice grows or why the fertilizer makes the rice grow better.  It just does.  The what and how are important to sustaining day to life, but why is superfluous because it appears to have no immediate effect on present life.  At least this is what I have gathered from what I have heard some Cambodians say. This makes things very difficult for me and my students.  I am not only battling with the occasional students who are lazy thinkers, but I also struggling with the average Cambodian who doesn’t understand why “why” is so important.

Why.  Is it really important?   Some culture aspects should be embraced, some adapted, and some I think need to be relearned.   I think Cambodians must rediscover why.  I believe it is key to their development as productive Cambodian citizens as well as citizens of Heaven.  In history class, I think it is very important that they understand the whys of events so that they will not repeat the whats and the hows in their future history.  If you don’t understand the why of the past you are doomed to repeat the same mistakes.  And if my students don’t understand why Satan and God are fighting for my students minds and hearts, they will never understand the Great Controversy between good and evil.  If my students don’t understand why God can only transform our selfish hearts to be like His perfect one if we surrender everything to God, they will never be victorious in battle against Satan.

So I ask for your prayers.  I need wisdom and patience to teach and my students need a specific way of thinking to be restored to them.   I believe Satan has caused most of them to lose this important step in thinking about problems to keep them from thinking deeply and understanding.  But even us western thinkers can forget the importance of why.  I was reminded of Jesus warning to the church of Ephesus in Revelation 2 that had the what and the how but had forgotten the why.

My Home Room Class - Bible, Math and History

My Home Room Class – Bible, Math and History

My Grade 8 Math Class

My Grade 8 Math Class

My Grade 10 History Class

My Grade 10 History Class



  1. Hi, sweet Laura! I hold up in prayer you and your ministry to those precious children most mornings. Amazingly, my 17-month-old granddaughter has started to ask “Why?” once in a while. I don’t think she knows the meaning of “why,” but apparently, she has heard it somewhere. Excellent commentary this time, Laura. Thanks for sharing! With “lotsa” love, Paula

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