Is getting up in front of a class TOO much to ask our students of today?

We talked about this on KiSS Sudbury the other morning and got some great calls

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KiSS Mornings with Shannon and Gary

KiSS Mornings with Shannon & Gary: Students with Anxiety Demand Alternatives to Class Presentations

Originally Aired: September 20, 2018

In an article that appeared in The Atlantic, some students felt that getting up in front of others is an unreasonable burden for those who may be suffering from anxiety and they want alternatives like just presenting to their teacher in a one on one situation.

We put the question to you and heard back from those for and against the idea.

I hated it. Forced to do something you’re uncomfortable with at a young age is awful. It’s especially stressful when you have kids in your class who have bullied you throughout, now you’re on a platform/bullseye ready to be judged. I was shy and didn’t like “public speaking,” and one of my teachers was less than encouraging. I think if someone is uncomfortable then they should have an alternative.

I had a lot of anxiety about this as a child and often felt very very nervous. However, presenting in front of others is definitely a great life skill to nurture and something that I now excel at and am very comfortable with. School classrooms are a great place to teach this skill which does not come naturally to all. Anxiety is a normal part of life which can be managed through many means such as gradual increases is experiences rather than medication. Presenting in front of others is definitely something that needs to stay so we can arm children with confidence to tackle real world situations and not shelter them from everything inconvenient. Anxiety is a crutch many use too much to blame for their inability to tackle life challenges appropriately.

I had anxiety over it but if you think about it. College and university courses include peer groups for a large portion of a percentage grade. You’re better to cope with the anxiety when you’re younger and build on it into your professional career. There’s ways to cope through the anxiety. It sucks, I hated it too but it really does help our social development and how we present ourselves professionally

We also got a great response from someone who works in the classroom:

Hi there. I would like to comment on the topic of classroom presentations. There are several points I would like to make.

1. In regards to the woman who thinks that students should be able to present to just the teacher; I am wondering logistically how she sees this working? Who will be watching the rest of the class while a teacher sits in a room with one student at a time?

2. In regards to her point that that students are not going into public speaking: most jobs require you to communicate orally with people. From grocery store cashier to teacher. The point is not to train them to get a job in public relations, it is for them to practice oral communicating their ideas in front of people in a more confident manner which only comes with practice.      

  3. Oral communication is part of the Ontario curriculum. If people have an issue with this take it to he ministry of education. Schools and school boards are bound by the ministry curriculum and have no choice about whether to require students to practice the skill.      

  4. There is a difference between being nervous and experiencing legitimate anxiety. Like we were when we were in school, students find themselves nervous when asking to present ideas to their classmates and teacher. That is normal. It is not a bad thing to be nervous about something. It is a perfectly normal emotion. We would be remiss in our responsibilities to our children if we teacher them they should give up if they are nervous of something. The skill of perseverance is a more important lesson then whether they know what a dangling participle is. It is a skill that will give them more chance to be successful at whatever job they choose in the future    

  5. If students only had to do what they wanted to do, what would we be teaching them? I mean that literally and metaphorically. Should we fill their time with just discussions (that they don’t have to participate in if they don’t want to) and video games? Again What lesson are we teaching if students were to decide to learn only what they want to? Is that real life. Do get to do only the part of your job you like, or do we need to do everything asked whether we want to or not? Adults need to be the one looking at the big picture since our kids are not capable of making decisions on a higher level do to their brains not being fully developed yet.  

Shame on parents who are trying to bubble wrap their kids from any unpleasant experience. You will not always be there to run interference for them and you are not doing your job if you do not help build your child’s ability to deal with normal life issues on their own! Love your child enough to let them experience failure, heartache, and new difficult things – then be there to help them learn to cope with it.