Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News
Saturday, September 15, 2018

For many middle- and high-school students, giving an in-class presentation was a rite of passage. Teachers would call up students, one by one, to present their work in front of the class and, though it was often nerve-racking, many people claim it helped turn them into more confident public speakers. "Coming from somebody with severe anxiety, having somebody force me to do a public presentation was the best idea to happen in my life," one woman recently tweeted. According to a recent survey by the Association of American Colleges and Universities, oral communication is one of the most sought-after skills in the workplace, with over 90 percent of hiring managers saying it's important. Some educators also credit in-class presentations with building essential leadership skills and increasing students' confidence and understanding of material.

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Those wacky teenagers...

When I was in high school, we protested rules that forced us to cut our hair.

#1 | Posted by Angrydad at 2018-09-15 12:51 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

Add another "like" to that half a million. As someone who excels at standing up and presenting a position to people who matter...I'll always need someone to wash my car.

#2 | Posted by madbomber at 2018-09-15 02:50 PM | Reply | Funny: 1 | Newsworthy 1

Doubling down on your ------------- today, huh?

#3 | Posted by Hagbard_Celine at 2018-09-15 03:02 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

I personally agree with those teenagers. I was devastated by anxiety when I had to speak to the class when I was young, it accomplished nothing positive for me. It would haunt me for weeks afterwards. I was a good student but you would never have known that if you watched my try to present something, I looked like a total idiot and I knew it.

#4 | Posted by danni at 2018-09-15 03:49 PM | Reply

The ability to stand before a crowd and is a differentiating skill.

#5 | Posted by sawdust at 2018-09-15 03:52 PM | Reply

I took a Saturday to avoid this. Well worth it.

#6 | Posted by LauraMohr at 2018-09-15 04:01 PM | Reply

But in the past few years, students have started calling out in-class presentations as discriminatory to those with anxiety, demanding that teachers offer alternative options.

The poor babies.

#7 | Posted by Sniper at 2018-09-15 04:12 PM | Reply

Here's an idea for the shy ones - www.youtube.com

#8 | Posted by SheepleSchism at 2018-09-15 04:18 PM | Reply

Educator here.

There's a push in modern day education to "compartmentalize" (my term) different disciplines. If a skill or piece of knowledge isn't covered by the standards for the course, then it shouldn't be graded. That's why we have a push to stop penalizing late work - because whether an essay is handed in on time or not is a measure not of the student's understanding of, say, character development in Macbeth, but rather of their soft skills of work completion, sticking to a schedule, etc.

I have very mixed feelings about this trend.

At any rate, with this in mind, the teenagers have a point...sort of. If the goal of assignment is for the student to demonstrate understanding of a concept or set of material, then alternate assessments should be available. However, many disciplines (particularly including my own - English Language Arts) include a communications requirement. In these cases, the teacher often has no choice BUT to assign presentations, speeches, etc.

Additionally, the decision to give students more autonomy like this could result in some nasty unintended consequences. I currently have about 130 students (small class sizes this semester). If I'm supposed to allow every student the opportunity to complete an alternate assignment rather than the assignment I spent hours designing and additional time creating a rubric for, suddenly I'm dealing with a work multiplication factor that's simply unmanageable. Decrease class sizes and structure in more teacher planning and grading time and we could talk.

Frankly, with all due respect to Laura and Danni, sometimes students just have to suck it up. Yes, there are instances where a student has such crippling anxiety that a speech would be detrimental; those cases should be handled delicately and on an as needed basis. In the meantime, everyone else needs to buck up a bit.

Not to pile on here, but as a theatre director and forensics (speech) coach, I have witnessed firsthand the confidence and self-advocacy that develops within students who push past that fear into public speaking. Last year I had a freshman who came to our first forensics meeting so shy that nobody could hear her say her name when she introduced herself, but by the end of the season she was triple entering at every tournament and came only a point or two away from qualifying for the national tournament we attend. If she hadn't been pushed, she never would've grown.

#9 | Posted by dylanfan at 2018-09-15 04:23 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

Here's an idea for the shy ones - www.youtube.com
#8 | POSTED BY SHEEPLESCHISM

^
I thought it was going to be a link to Columbine.
Boy was I surprised!

Since I brought it up, what do you guys think of David Hogg's high school public speaking skills?
We need more teenagers like him, to speak out about the issues that matter to them?

#10 | Posted by snoofy at 2018-09-15 04:30 PM | Reply

#10 - Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School is part of a district that highly values public speaking and communications skills and emphasizes them all through the K-12 curriculum. My understanding is that even before that tragedy, the district was sort of a "big deal" in the national circuit of competitive speech and debate. The fact that the survivors were so well-equipped to self-advocate and speak confidently about gun control after the tragedy speaks volumes for the efficacy of curriculum that emphasizes this important skill set.

#11 | Posted by dylanfan at 2018-09-15 04:38 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

Further reading:

www.miamiherald.com

#12 | Posted by dylanfan at 2018-09-15 04:40 PM | Reply

I personally agree with those teenagers. I was devastated by anxiety when I had to speak to the class when I was young, it accomplished nothing positive for me. It would haunt me for weeks afterwards. I was a good student but you would never have known that if you watched my try to present something, I looked like a total idiot and I knew it.

#4 | Posted by danni

So because it doesn't help ALL students, it should be eliminated from their education?

It helps some students make massive breakthroughs in self confidence and self actualization. We should sacrifice that because some kids are too delicate?

What kind of country do you envision us having if we never require our kids to do anything hard that they don't want to do?

#13 | Posted by SpeakSoftly at 2018-09-15 06:07 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

"So because it doesn't help ALL students, it should be eliminated from their education?"

No, but students should have some opportunity to choose an alternative assignment. If you don't suffer from the anxiety you don't understand how powerful it is. There is nothing worse than forgetting everything you wanted to say and standing there speechless. There are so many components, looks, confidence, feeling included. When you are an outsider, when you know your looks are made fun of all the time, when you know you are just overwhelmed with anxiety, there should be an exit plan. When you have a basic melt down in a situation like that it brands you, everyone remembers it. This can be a recipe for suicide, I know I was close back when I was in High School. I am much better today but speaking publicly for some of us is so totally impossible that we don't even consider it to be an option. Probably why I love posting here, it's sort of like speaking in public without the audience.

#14 | Posted by danni at 2018-09-15 07:46 PM | Reply

Political Correctness at one of its most succinct examples.

#15 | Posted by 9mmHeater at 2018-09-16 02:05 AM | Reply

Political Correctness at one of its most succinct examples.

#15 | Posted by 9mmHeater

Kid-coddling is not political correctness.

#16 | Posted by SpeakSoftly at 2018-09-16 02:20 AM | Reply

"Kid-coddling is not political correctness."

Just adult coddling?

"What kind of country do you envision us having if we never require our kids to do anything hard that they don't want to do?"

Imposter!!!!

What have you done with the real Speaksoftly?

#17 | Posted by madbomber at 2018-09-16 03:22 AM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

"I personally agree with those teenagers. I was devastated by anxiety when I had to speak to the class when I was young, it accomplished nothing positive for me."

Anxiety?

What have you EVER done in life that one could objectively expect you to be anxious about? I've not slept at night before a checkride at flight school, or some other event. I've blanked out while speaking in front of hundreds of people. What you were experiencing wasn't some sort of medical condition, it was nothing more than lack of experience. And the more experience you get, the better you get at it. If you want to know the secret-once you realize that it doesn't really matter, you won't struggle anymore. That's really the value in placing people in extremely high stress situations when it doesn't matter. So that they become comfortable with it when it does matter.

#18 | Posted by madbomber at 2018-09-16 03:41 AM | Reply

Probably why I love posting here, it's sort of like speaking in public without the audience.

If you can do it here you can do it in public.

And yeah, some kids need an accommodation. Most don't, they need a nudge.

Just do it.

#19 | Posted by et_al at 2018-09-16 05:23 AM | Reply

That's why when humans colonize Mars, it will be the Chinese who do that, and the Americans will be lucky if they need us as janitors at that point.

#20 | Posted by berto42 at 2018-09-16 05:49 AM | Reply

If you don't suffer from the anxiety you don't understand how powerful it is.

True and if a kid actual has a diagnosis of an anxiety disorder then sure they should have a chance at an alternate assignment but this isn't talking about just kids with an actual disorder but any kid who feels a bit of stress about it. Screw that.

There is nothing worse than forgetting everything you wanted to say and standing there speechless.

Oh I promise there are much much worse things.

There are so many components, looks, confidence, feeling included.

Yes and a lot of those components can be learned. Letting a kid wuss out because he's "anxious" is not teaching them what they need to be successful in the world.

When you are an outsider, when you know your looks are made fun of all the time, when you know you are just overwhelmed with anxiety, there should be an exit plan.

Every Teen is an outsider even (maybe even especially) the popular ones. Every teen's looks are made fun of yes even the popular ones once again learning to overcome that is an important lesson of high school. It was around 10th grade I reached enlightenment on that subject from that point on I stopped giving a F--- about fitting in, I also enjoyed the rest of HS much more because of it.

As far as an exit plan, yeah you should make your own maybe teachers should include that as part of the presentation lesson. If you freeze and run out from in front of the class in tears you will bear that mark till graduation so anticipate failure and prepare for it. What can you do if you do freeze should be part of the preparation and assignment. When my oldest had to do one I suggested a handful of glitter, if he froze just throw the glitter at the class and slip back to his desk while they were distracted. Turns out the thought of throwing a handful of glitter at the class amused him so much he forgot to be nervous.

#21 | Posted by TaoWarrior at 2018-09-16 07:50 AM | Reply

Here's a trick I learned in public speaking in front of a class full of PhDs and MAs. I had to make a presentation on the vanadium doping on a tantalum wire basket which would catalyze a certain chemical reaction. I confided in my Research Advisor that I didn't understand the quadrupole mathematics behind the scheme. I'd only had up to Cal IV and Differential Equations at this point, so he said he'd make sure and ridicule me in front of the class.

I dropped by my old physics professor's office and asked him if he could give me a crash course in quadrupole mathematics and he said, "No." It's too complicated for a one-off lecture.

So this is what I did: I showed up to my lecture room an hour before hand and wrote the entire proof of the quadrupole mathematical theory behind all the pull-down charts, hiding them until the opportune moment when I was sure my Research Advisor would attempt to humiliate me.

After the slides had been prepared and shown and the overhead projector was shut off, my Advisor asked, in a room stuffed with the entire Chemistry department, "Well Mad, that's all well and good, but why don't you explain the quadrupole mathematics?

So, I nonchalantly started pulling up all the roll-up periodic tables and other roll-up charts covering all the math I'd hidden behind them.

The entire class went into an uproar of laughter, while my Research Advisor sat there beet-faced.

I learned a very important lesson that day: Sometimes the people you trust are actually out to get you. And people would rather be entertained than bored to death.

I got an "A" in that Seminar class.

#22 | Posted by madscientist at 2018-09-16 07:52 AM | Reply | Funny: 1

Nice Mad and that's what I mean by being prepared for failure.

I was always good at extemporizing so anytime something like that would come up I would cram just enough to sound like I knew what I was talking about and then just throw BS out there. Most people are only half listening to lectures anyway so as long as it sounds ok they probably aren't paying enough attention to nail you anyway. (Honesty in advertising a couple times they were paying attention ... yikes)

#23 | Posted by TaoWarrior at 2018-09-16 08:11 AM | Reply

Demanding alternatives?

They can get an IEP and be in a smaller class with those who are "different"

#24 | Posted by drivelikejehu at 2018-09-16 08:27 AM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

Great story, Mad!

Could you explain...

#25 | Posted by drivelikejehu at 2018-09-16 08:29 AM | Reply

In my daughter's HS history class last year, they had the option of doing oral presentations after class with just the teacher, or with a few of their friends present. My daughter hated it when she was paired up with a girl who insisted on doing the report in one of these sessions; she'd put a lot of effort into making the presentation interesting for the rest of the class.

#26 | Posted by Snowfake at 2018-09-16 08:48 AM | Reply

What?? There was no xanax when you were anxious? Poor baby. Did you ever grow into an adult? Maybe you should find a safe space where you can burn the fries for a career.

#27 | Posted by bumpkin44 at 2018-09-16 01:54 PM | Reply

They should make these kids do a presentation about why they're protesting presentations.

#28 | Posted by sentinel at 2018-09-17 12:10 AM | Reply

I'm glad to see rebellious kids.

#29 | Posted by RightisTrite at 2018-09-17 03:57 AM | Reply

Save your energy for protesting being shot it children.

#30 | Posted by bayviking at 2018-09-17 10:38 AM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

One of my oldest son's classmates started a non-profit to teach high school kids how to speak publicly. His non-profit successfully tutored over 250 high school kids. Very cool.

#31 | Posted by JeffJ at 2018-09-17 11:39 AM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

Probably the biggest facepalm situation I've ever read.

Part of the entire presentation is to get kids to face their fears and conquer a challenge. It's not only just about learning to talk in front of people. For the bleeding hearts who feel this is actually worthy of paying attention to, you are ruining this country just as much as all of the people you say are ruining the country because of something else. This is by far one of the worst possible things that our kids can be catered to. Amazing that anyone would ever even listen to a kid about this and actually making them believe it's an important issue. You are destroying our kids.

#32 | Posted by humtake at 2018-09-17 01:06 PM | Reply

It's the time's we live in. Kids want to be keyboard commandos because it's easier and they don't have to face being challenged on the spot. Hey kids... most of you have anxiety from being unprepared. For the rest of them, those who actually have gloss phobia, fail them because they are unable to communicate effectively.

#33 | Posted by bogey1355 at 2018-09-17 02:59 PM | Reply

I agree with the students. They should avoid any and all things that might cause them anxiety or to be uncomfortable. I'm sure that if they just refuse to participate harder the rest of the world will eventually change its ways to suit them.

#34 | Posted by Sezu at 2018-09-17 03:25 PM | Reply

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