Most of us know the gut-wrenching nerves you feel before delivering a class presentation. Is it wrong for teachers to put students in that situation in the first place? One person said so, and people took to the internet to share their passionate thoughts.
Note: Some quotes in this piece have been lightly edited for grammar.
1: Public Freaking Out
One former student thinks presenting is an essential skill for teachers to share. “I’ve had too many teachers just send us up there to talk about a complex topic with no pointers.” They loved public speaking when the topics were more familiar, though. “Being an expert in the topic made it easier to focus on the actual skills than the subject matter.”
2: Taught All Wrong
You may not actually hate public speaking as much as you think. One commenter took public speaking in college, and it changed the game. “Just a few lessons undid 13 years of crippling social anxiety that was COMPOUNDED by being forced to do something I wasn’t taught how to do.”
3: Saying the Right Things
Turns out the fear of failure may be what’s holding you back. One commenter said, “I am not afraid of public speaking; I’m afraid of being unprepared for a speech and looking dumb. With adequate preparation, I can easily speak on a topic for 10 minutes.”
4: Missing the Mark
One former teacher hated the expectation that kids had to know how to present without prior lessons. “I never expected my kids to ace a test on organelles before I taught it. I think public speaking should be a class you take at least twice per grade cluster. That way, people have experience over time and actually have the chance to improve.”
5: One Bad Apple
One commenter thinks social anxiety is no excuse for axing presentations in school. “If you have social anxiety, you’re probably not going to come out of your high school years with a lot of fond memories either way. That alone shouldn’t be a reason that all of the other kids that would benefit from the exercise shouldn’t have the opportunity to do so.”
6: One Way Or Another
Several commenters discussed how they’d rather take a failing grade than give a presentation. “It became routine for me to take the zero or F,” one person said. Another agreed. “Throwing up, diarrhea, shaking, somehow turned it all off for the actual presentation, but it left a mark even all these years later. I’ll never forgive or forget.”
7: Wake Up Call
One socially anxious commenter believes you must grin and bear it to make it in the real world. “Most jobs require being social and having to do explanations for other people. You aren’t getting out of having to talk in front of at least one other person to get funding for your idea or to explain something. It sucks, it’s horrible… but it is still a necessary skill.”
8: Adding Insult to Injury
One formerly anxious kid thinks forcing presentations makes the situation worse. “If you have no confidence at all, it is only going to be hindered more by the forcing of partaking in such a strenuous situation. Unless you are working on that issue one on one, being forced into it isn’t gonna help.”
9: Learning By Doing
One homeschooler wishes they could’ve done more presentations despite being shy. “My mom made me do a play once, and I hated it, but I am really glad I got the experience. I have a decent set of social skills to fall back on when the anxiety is too much. No, I’m not seeking out public speaking, but I do know what tools I would need if I had to.”
10: Make Accommodations
One commenter cries out of fear when presenting, so they get it. “I think it is cruel to make someone with a diagnosed mental illness present just as everyone else does. I’m not saying they shouldn’t have to present – but there should be accommodations to make it easier for them if they have an anxiety disorder.”
11: The Real World
Removing public speaking from curriculums would hold students back, according to one commenter. “Enough people talk about how school isn’t preparing them for life, but you want to remove an important professional skill? At some point, you need to speak up at work or in life.”
12: Put in Some Elbow Grease
“People want school never to push them outside their comfort zone, but then roll over and take the blame when they didn’t learn or gain anything from that,” says one teacher whose students get upset when their classes don’t consist solely of things they can already do.
13: Practice Makes Perfect
Forget taking them away; one commenter thinks we need to give presentations more. “One big presentation per year is something to dread. A small presentation every week or two is a routine. The secret of everyone who is ‘good’ at public speaking, and/or not afraid of it, is that they have done it a bunch of times.”
14: Moving On Up
One commenter remembers how presentations used to go for them. “Getting up in front of the class: sweaty palms, sweaty pits, talking a mile a minute, feeling the blood rush into my face, brain almost completely off-line and trying to hold in my nervous gas. With practice, by being forced to step out of my comfort zone, I got ever so slightly better at it.” Now, they DJ on the weekends and talk in front of thousands of people, no problem.
15: Smarten Up
One commenter, wary of sounding like an old man, says that Gen Z students need to toughen up. “They seem to think that simply recognizing their problems is the end goal of self-analysis. I feel like Gen Z doesn’t want to work on their issues; they just want to identify them and use them as an excuse to never get out of their comfort zone. Which is tragic to me.”
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