OP: Should I speak?

2 April 2019

Abby Jadali

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    In high school, students are told that there is normally only one right answer. Very rarely, or at least from my experience, are there times where other ideas are accepted into the classroom.

    When I got to college, I was so excited to finally start speaking my mind and contributing to the classroom discussion, but after three years, I have realized that things haven’t really changed.

    I have been everything from a major in elementary education, sociology, personal nutrition, and now I am currently (and staying as) a major in rhetoric and writing. I have loved every single one of my classes, but there are some that have definitely rubbed me the wrong way because of their narrow outlook on “right answers.”

    According to the Teaching & Learning Transformation Center, classroom discussion, “while generally not conducive to covering large amounts of content, the interactive dynamic of discussion can help students learn and motivate them.”

    I wish I could say that this is what classroom discussion has done for me, but my experience has been much different.

    While I have a lot of opinions, and constantly want to participate in discussions, I have high amounts of anxiety whenever I do get called on, and knowing that public speaking is one of the top phobias that people may have, it takes a lot for me to do this action.

    After I make my point with as much confidence as I can, I am left with blank stares and no reassurance from my professors. Students nod and bounce off of my ideas while my teachers pat me on the back and say good try.

     When walking into a classroom, students normally dread the feeling they get when they get put on-the-spot and start talking. It is something that they are not always comfortable with and depending on the class atmosphere and the professor’s willingness to take in all ideas, the student may sit in their own anxious fears, before and even after they speak.

    According to Mental Health America, “research shows that up to 25 percent of students struggle with clinical anxiety which can significantly impact a student’s ability to learn and perform up to their capacity.”

    While I don’t personally have clinical anxiety, I know what it feels like to get anxious and teachers not boosting their student’s self-confidence when making a statement in class can cause problems when it comes to the student later participating in class.

    Teachers have a duty to their students; they have a duty to put them in a safe space where all ideas will be heard an accepted. Even if the student isn’t correct, to hear them out and understand why they believe their point.

    By making discussion in class more approachable, students will participate and feel comfortable sharing.

    Class discussion is an important part of the college experience, and professors should make sure to make it an experience the student can get something out of.