As a new and unusual school year gets underway, the WSU Insider figured it would be an ideal time to feature a question from the Ask Dr. Universe archives that is likely on the minds of both Washington State University students and faculty.

Andy Cavagnetto, an associate professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning and the School of Biological Sciences, sat down with the fictional feline Dr. Universe to discuss an eighth graders’ question about why the things we learn at school get more complicated each year.

There’s no denying it—in pretty much all subjects, what you learn today will be harder than what you learned a few years ago. This is especially the case when the way you are used to learning has been turned on its head.

But nevertheless, while it is not always easy to do, Cavagnetto said we all have built up knowledge we can use to address the unique problems of today. By taking advantage of what other people have learned, or what you already know, you’ll be able to learn more and understand more of the world around you.

And remember that questions are sometimes even more important than their answers. So keep asking great questions. After all, the more you know, the more you realize how much there is to discover. Visit the Ask Dr. Universe website for answers to more tough questions from curious elementary and middle school students.