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Should We Do Away With In-Class Presentations?

Should We Do Away With In-Class Presentations?

I have severe anxiety and I understand both sides of this story.

The Atlantic wrote an article about teenagers protesting in-class presentations after a tweet went viral that said “stop forcing students to present in front of the class and give them a choice not to.” Students said this experience can be traumatic and permanently scar them.

As someone with severe anxiety, I understand where they’re coming from. I refuse to use the word snowflake in this situation because there is a stigma around anxiety and it’s not well understood, but at the same time, learning to speak in front of people is a valuable lesson.

The Atlantic wrote:

Students who support abolishing in-class presentations argue that forcing students with anxiety to present in front of their peers is not only unfair because they are bound to underperform and receive a lower grade, but it can also cause long-term stress and harm.

“Nobody should be forced to do something that makes them uncomfortable,” says Ula, a 14-year-old in eighth grade, who, like all students quoted, asked to be referred to only by her first name. “Even though speaking in front of class is supposed to build your confidence and it’s part of your schoolwork, I think if a student is really unsettled and anxious because of it you should probably make it something less stressful. School isn’t something a student should fear.”

“It feels like presentations are often more graded on delivery when some people can’t help not being able to deliver it well, even if the content is the best presentation ever,” says Bennett, a 15-year-old in Massachusetts who strongly agrees with the idea that teachers should offer alternative options for students. “Teachers grade on public speaking which people who have anxiety can’t be great at.”

“I get that teachers are trying to get students out of their comfort zone, but it’s not good for teachers to force them to do that,” says Henry, a 15-year-old also in Massachusetts.

Look, I know anxiety is real and I didn’t receive proper medication for it until I hit adulthood. Even with it my anxiety can take over. I rarely answer the phone and calling anyone to make an appointment fills me with dread.

The absolute most important lesson? You cannot let your anxiety win. It’s hard, but it’s what you must do, especially if you want to succeed in the real world. Confronting your fears and weaknesses is the only way to move forward. It sounds cliche, but the more you do it, the better you become at it. You don’t succeed at something by walking away.

But also as a former teacher, I hate how the education system has become a one size fits all curriculum because every single person is different. If a teacher wants to change things around when it comes to in-class presentations then go for it. If a kid has severe anxiety, I’d hope the teacher would work with the student and start off small.

Look at what these teachers told The Atlantic:

Joe Giordano, a high-school teacher in Baltimore, says that he’s also sympathetic to the movement away from mandatory in-class presentations. As an art teacher, he hosts “crit” sessions where students’ work is critiqued. He always gives the teenagers a choice as to whether or not they want to speak about their own work.

“It kind of irks me when I see a lot of other teachers say, ‘But we have to get them up there.’ These kids are living under more stressful situations than I did as a student. Their anxiety runs pretty high,” he said. “I know we should put them in uncomfortable situations, but if they suffer from anxiety they’re already in an uncomfortable situation. As a teacher I try to show compassion. It’s not about being a drill instructor.”

Kathleen Carver, a high-school history teacher in Texas, says teaching has changed since the days when she grew up. “I think in this day and age there [are] different pressures. We expect different things from our students,” she said. “We’re in a day and age where we have to acknowledge our students’ feelings. I have to listen to them and hear their feedback and respond to that. That’s how I can be a more effective teacher. If I ignored their feelings I don’t think they would like me or my class or walk away learning things.”

Giordano is correct and so is Carver to an extent. Kids with actual anxiety are already uncomfortable and the times have changed. But I disagree with Carver on dictating everything about feelings. The real world doesn’t care about your feelings and you will be in situations you cannot control. The sooner you get used to it the better off you’ll be when you get older.

I also don’t like people making light of the issue and honestly, anxiety gets confused with nervous. The Atlantic highlighted this fact, too:

Those campaigning against in-class presentations said that it was important to distinguish between students with actual diagnosable anxiety disorders and those who might just want to get out of the assignment. Addie, a 16-year-old in New York, said that schools like hers already make accommodations for students with certain learning issues to get extra time on tests. She thinks similar processes could be put in place for students with public-speaking anxiety. “I think it’s important these accommodations are accessible, but that they’re also given to those who are need it instead of those who just say they don’t want to present,” she said. “There’s a big difference between nervousness and anxiety.”

Anxiety is not an easy diagnosis because it varies. No anxiety is the same. People have different triggers, different coping mechanisms. Those without anxiety don’t understand. I mean, *I* don’t fully understand it!

Out of all the hardships children have in school, we shouldn’t concentrate on in-class presentations. At Reason, Robby Soave agrees “since they impart an actually useful skill.” Soave added:

It’s true that young people today are a lot more stressed out than previous generations. Much more is demanded of today’s K-12 students, and the competition for spots at elite colleges is more brutal than ever. Students have massive homework loads that keep them up late, and still they must get ready for school as early (or earlier) than most adults. They are often involved in a punishing number of extracurricular activities, since good grades are not enough to make a college application shine.

There are good reasons to address many of these sources of stress. The Centers for Disease Control, for example, has warned that 93 percent of high schools begin classes too early, against the advice of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

[Featured image via YouTube]


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The leftists spreading this dangerous tripe should be brought before each class, and beaten senseless for trying to infantilize – and render dependent – yet another American generation.

Now THAT would be a presentation.

I’m not overly sympathetic. I have no problem with a student with anxiety skipping out on a project presentation, but only at a steep cost to the grade. Grades (at least at the high school level and above) are supposed to be objective measures of performance – nothing more, nothing less.

If a school wants to address this another honest way – say having a collective “presentation” grade separate from all other grades, that would be fine with me too.

2nd Ammendment Mother | September 13, 2018 at 5:41 pm

This is just one reason to get your kids involved in programs like 4-H. Among the many life skills kids DEVELOP are public speaking in various situations. The difference is we don’t throw kids to the wolves and “get them up there” then grade them on it…. we teach and develop the skill over several years so that kids understand how to put their ideas and presentations together then present them. Some kids do go on to compete in contests that will require speeches or interactions with judges, but when they’ve gotten to practice the skill, then they have tools to help them manage those anxieties.

    2nd Ammendment Mother in reply to 2nd Ammendment Mother. | September 13, 2018 at 6:05 pm

    Just to elaborate on some of what we do….
    Yesterday was a rifle class for new students learning prone position
    As we’re giving instruction, we frequently give students ownership of the information by asking them to repeat back key information and instructions to the group.
    A lot of it is very simple…. but many kids aren’t confident enough to repeat an instruction to their peers. The goal is that by then next lesson, they can be paired with another new student and be able to confidently assist with instruction.
    After 4 years, every single student I’ve worked with can instruct at least 1 other person and generally a large group on any particular concept.

    2nd Ammendment Mother in reply to 2nd Ammendment Mother. | September 13, 2018 at 10:07 pm

    Tonight’s example:
    Club Business Meeting
    25 kids 5 – 11 got up and gave their very first public speech tonight…. safely sandwiched between older peers…. They only needed to make it through 3 sentences

    “My name is______
    I am in ___ grade
    This year I want to learn to ____________.”

    Lots of stuttering, hemming and hawing…. but no one died of embarrassment or failed to get through their 1 minute in the spotlight… a few got help from their neighbor…. and the precocious 3 year old won the night.

    As a homeschooler, I thoroughly agree with you. You don’t just throw a child up to the front of a class and expect her to act with aplomb. It won’t happen. We had our children in public speaking classes for three years…by the end of it, and the start of college…they were comfortable with it. In college, all of their professors were surprised with their comportment and comfort level with public speaking—especially not really not needing their notes. Why don’t high schools have four years of public speaking?

I hated public speaking…but then I hated basic training in the Army, too. In retrospect, they both had a purpose.

A subject I could write volumes about, thanks for posting this, Mary.

Forty-five years after the trauma known as High School, the cause was mostly to do with all the well-intentioned but woefully ignorant teachers, counselors and classmates who tried to force me – a deep-seeded introvert, to be an extrovert. Whether in-class presentations, speeches, or turning out for sports, the pressures to conform were relentless and contrary to my core being.

Not until I was in my mid-40’s, did I begin to understand how and why I’m so different. Thank God for discovering the book “Please Understand Me” by David Keirsey and the Keirsey Temperament Sorter (Myers-Briggs) assessment. I can’t tell you what a relief it was to get some understanding about differences between Introverts and Extroverts, Sensing and Intuition, Thinking and Feeling, and Judging and Perceiving temperament types. Doing the math, there’s 16 different types, but the distribution of types is NOT equal.

If I remember right, Extroverts (IIRC) outnumber Introverts 3:1. I think Sensing or Intuition is the other dimension that’s 3:1. The other two are 50:50. Anyway – that that means is, if like me you track as a 1 in 4 introvert, and a 1 in 4 intuitive, then just 6 people in 100 are wired (temperamentally speaking) the same way you are. Extroverted / Sensing types number 56 in 100. Introverted / Sensing and Extroverted / Intuitive make up the remainder of 38 in 100.

No wonder Introverted Intuitive temperament types feel alone, ostracized, and anxious in a world hell bent on trying to conform them to the overwhelming majority of extroverted types.

I’ve thought for years that schools ought to administer the temperament sorter to all students and educators trained in dealing with the diverse differences in their students. In the same vein, students ought be assessed for their learning styles, whether auditory, visual, kinesthetic, and curriculum ought to be geared to their best learning style.

If there is a single reason the education system has and is failing, it is because the approach is “one size fits all”.


    You are a very small minority of the population. To have accommodated you, society would have had to sacrifice development of the resource of its youth. You suffered a bit, but it was – vastly – for the greater good.

    As we see, we have witnessed nearly 2 generations of our young destroyed. Is that written in “Please Understand Me?”

    Are the sacrifices of our soldiers discussed in Please Understand Me?” Our police? Our fireman? Heads of families raising mentally healthy children?

    Funny, but “One size fits all” seems to be the socialist mantra – except when it’s not convenient.

      I suggest you take the Keirsey Personality Sorter. There are lots of places you can take it for free. You might learn why people think you’re such a bore.

        Two things:

        1-I accidentally gave you a thumbs’ up.
        2-I took the test. I flunked. They humiliated me with a their lowest grade: “elliesmom.”

        Thank goodness you were not pussifying children who had to go on to fight the british in 1776, or D-Day, or in Iraqi Freedom, or who went to the moon, or who fought in NY on 911.

        Few of them liked public speaking. And you probably think they are all ‘bores,’ you ignorant wanna-be elitist.

        As we’ve seen around here, only a dunbass, a leftist or a troll personally attacks someone for their views.

        Which one are you? All three?

        Thank goodness you were not pussifying children who had to go on to fight the british in 1776, or D-Day, or in Iraqi Freedom, or who went to the moon, or who fought in NY on 911.

        Few of them liked public speaking. And you probably think they are all ‘bores,’ you ignorant wanna-be elitist.

        As we’ve seen around here, only a dunbass, a leftist or a troll personally attacks someone for their views.

        Which one are you? All three?

        Jack Klompus in reply to elliesmom. | September 14, 2018 at 8:43 am

        Ah but don’t you get it? We’re “destroying” generations of young people! Now get those kids on the front line in Iraq so they can prove that they’re worthy of respect!

      Not everything is political, TFR. For I’m only speaking about the development of every student’s potential. That our education system relies on conformity overlooks the unique gifts and talents of individuals. If you’re willing to sacrifice the “small minority” (6%) for the greater good, do you want to live in a culture without idealists? In particular counselors, teachers, healers, etc?

      You do speak truth in this statement:

      “You suffered a bit, but it was – vastly – for the greater good.”

      But I don’t think you meant it the way I’ve experienced it. Suffice to say, if I had never experienced hardship, I would never have developed creatively. The vast majority of my creative works were all birthed in hardship; the process of writing and performing my works worked healing and growth in me. So yes, it was for my greater good.

    elliesmom in reply to MrE. | September 13, 2018 at 6:21 pm

    I was required to take the Myers-Briggs as part of my teaching education. My adviser gave us each a copy of “Please Understand Me” as a gift. She and I were polar opposites, which gave us a good chuckle. It does help greatly for a teacher to understand herself and to learn to recognize when her students are different. For example, I don’t need a lot of praise from my teachers, and it particularly drives me nuts if someone praises something I’ve done I know doesn’t deserve it. But I had students who needed my praise and encouragement before they could take the next step. I had to learn to give them what they needed.

      Thanks for the kind reply, Ellies Mom. A kind-hearted and sensitive teacher can do a lot for the confidence of a quiet and shy student. Ultimately it was the performing arts that developed in me the confidence to get up in front of a crowd. Though like Petrushka wrote below, it was years before I could do so without getting sick before taking the stage.

      Are your students now throwing their feces?

    hrhdhd in reply to MrE. | September 13, 2018 at 8:51 pm

    I am an introvert who teaches public speaking. Being an introvert doesn’t mean one can’t deliver a presentation. It means one may not enjoy it tremendously (but just so you know, the extroverts don’t either) or want to make public speaking the focus of one’s career.

    Allowing the introverts to opt out does them a disservice. It is frustrating to be surrounded by people with different makeups, but that’s life.

      Ragspierre in reply to hrhdhd. | September 13, 2018 at 10:03 pm

      In terms of the Myers-Briggs use of “introvert”, it has very little to do with being “shy”. It’s all about where you get your values and how you interact with others.

      Lawyers speak in public every time they go to court. Being an INTP is no impediment for me as respects speaking before others.

        I can appreciate that observation. Though I think being introverted makes it more difficult to overcome shyness. An introvert’s rich inner-life is a safe life so perhaps shyness is partly rooted in self-preservation.

        I’m an INFP – the INF characteristics are all to the extreme. P is borderline J. In face to face encounter, I’ve often been intimidated by those with the T(hinking) dimension, especially Extroverts because they are often so quick to respond and seemingly blunt/forceful about it. Giving weight to F(eelings) doesn’t mean the person is defective in T(hinking), they just need a little more time to process and respond. The rub in my experience is that the predominant temperament types are often impatient with the more, um, quiet contemplative types.

          I can understand your point, MrE. I’m an INTP, so I’m not a big fan of the public speaking thing, but it was required of me, so I did it. Ultimately, those red-faced, sweaty, shaky moments sputtering about the flora and fauna of the Florida panhandle (a topic I was assigned) served me well. In fact, I went on to a career of teaching that required me to speak in public (or to a classroom) for decades. I loved it!

          I am a bit torn about this issue, but since I teach college-level students, it’s not really been an issue in my career. We aren’t required to force our students to present in the classroom (unless one is teaching a speech course, but then, who would sign up for and then ask for a safe space from having to give speeches? Oh, right.).

          In my classes, I tend to have students do PowerPoints at mid-term. This has a few benefits for students with anxiety issues: one, they can dim the lights and thereby focus audience attention on the slides; two (related), the attention in a PP is always on the slides, so the speaker feels less pressure without all eyes on him or her or whatever bazillion gender pronouns; and three, PP allows students speaker notes. These can be as detailed as the student needs to feel comfortable.

          Some students are great with bulleted items (just slides) and some need the comfort of a script to read. Shrug. I don’t care. The point is to see if they can understand an assignment, organize its content, and then present it in a logical way.

          If a student is truly knock-kneed, I’m going to vomit anxious, I allow them to skip the in-class presentation part, but they have to write extensive speaker notes to show that they are supporting their thesis as they would have to if they presented it. The goals, excluding the very useful skill of being able to speak to a small group, are met. Most students prefer slapping up a few slides and ad-libbing their way through the material, so when a student chooses to put all that work in writing, I’m pretty sure they aren’t faking it.

          MrE in reply to MrE. | September 14, 2018 at 3:45 pm

          Thanks, Fuzzy! Myers-Briggs breakdown typically holds teachers to be Extroverts – but you, same as my wife, are Introverts – it just means you have to get out of your comfort zone to stand up and teach. It was more or less the same for me, an auditor / analyst in the aerospace industry – presentations (Power-Point) required – and for many years a performing song-writer who gigged every weekend. Quiet private times of recuperation helped manage it all.

          Often during my career, I assembled presentations which my management delivered to executives. One presentation in particular was to be delivered by my supervisor, until it was learned a VP would be in attendance and my 2nd level manager stepped in. He mangled the presentation, the VP saw my name in the corner of the overhead and asked me to present it instead. The VP knew me when my Dad, also an exec, brought me to a few company family BBQ’s and I played guitar for everyone. The only reason I didn’t freak out about it was knowing the VP and there being no time to think about it and work myself into a panic. 😉 He also helped me move to a better job when my manager became hostile after the spectacle.

          Anxiety does need to be conquered to survive in this world, I’ve just never been a fan of teaching someone to swim by throwing them into the deep end of the pool.

          It’s interesting to me the number of IN’s who’ve surfaced in this thread. About 20 years ago, I remember a web site – I think it was where the Temperament Sorter was hosted for a time and kept stats of all respondents. Though INFJ’s are just 1.5% of the population, something like 14% of people who took the test at came up INFJ. That disparity suggests blogging, interactive forums, etc., are an outlet for the quiet/reserved temperament types to express themselves. In personal observation, I encounter more Introverts on forums than Extroverts – even though Extroverts (according to Myers) outnumber us 3:1.

          I think you hit the nail on the head, MrE. As higher education moved away from a research and lecture focus and into touchy=feely “holistic” approaches to teaching, I became more and more uncomfortable. I’m great giving a lecture, I’m pretty darned good at leading class discussions, but I’m horrible at the hand-holding and molly-coddly stuff. One of the reasons I wanted to teach adults rather than K-12 was that I didn’t want to have to engage with students on an emotional level. I don’t really like to deal with anyone on an emotional level (INTP, remember? lol), so the shift from these aren’t adults seeking knowledge to these are special special snowflakes who need verbal hugs all day long was so far removed from my abilities that I really struggled with new faculty demands (I won’t even get into how much I hate Title IX and all that entails!).

          Anyway, maybe your wife and I are representative of “old school” teachers who could talk to (or at, really) a group quite well, lead discussion (here, interact with not at), share our knowledge in engaging ways, and etc., but don’t ask me to “open up” (as nordic_prince notes) to students or to welcome them doing so to me. Ideas, theories, analysis . . . I’m good with that. “Oh, I feel all triggered and snowflake melty” makes me want to run screaming from the room.

          nordic_prince in reply to MrE. | September 14, 2018 at 9:42 pm

          I too am an introvert. Interacting on forums is easier, I think, because you get a chance to think of what you want to say. You can take your time, unlike real-life conversations where someone will invariably assume you’re mad about something or aloof or “anti-social” if you tend to watch others talk rather than participate vocally yourself.

          One misconception is that introverts are “shy,” but this is more a caricature than anything else. Introversion has more to do with what social settings energize you versus what you find draining. For example, introverts tend not to like big, noisy parties with a lot of unfamiliar people because it taxes their mental state, whereas extroverts actually tend to get more energy from being around people.

          Teachers and others frequently seem to want to treat introverts as “broken extroverts” and hence try to “fix” us, always insisting that we need to “come out of our shell” and so on. More often than not, it’s not that we’re in need of “coming out of our shell,” but rather we’re more discerning about whom we open up to.

          For those who are interested, a good read is Susan Cain’s book, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.”

          MrE in reply to MrE. | September 15, 2018 at 11:26 am

          Thanks for the insights 😉 and book recommendation, NP.

          Ragspierre in reply to MrE. | September 16, 2018 at 10:22 am

          INTPs are actually fundamentally teachers. We value information and logic, and assume others want to share. We love efficiency and analysis, along with global comprehension of systems and patterns.

    hrhdhd in reply to MrE. | September 13, 2018 at 8:54 pm

    Forgot to mention that “learning styles” theories have largely been debunked. See “The Myth of Learning Styles” in The Atlantic (yes, I know, but this time it’s a good article).

    Eastwood Ravine in reply to MrE. | September 14, 2018 at 12:35 am

    Proud INTJ (Mastermind) here.

    It’s not that children should or shouldn’t learn to be public speakers of varying levels of proficiency, but at what year what it should be offered or taken. Keep it as a requirement for graduation, but don’t mandate that high school freshman have to take it. (Like it was when I was in high school.) Let the kid choose when he or she will feel the most confident about taking the course. They’ll do better.

    Albigensian in reply to MrE. | September 14, 2018 at 10:28 am

    Assuming that even the strongly introverted can learn to exhibit moderately extraverted behavior for a limited time, does it make more sense to teach the strongly introverted how to do this, or to shield them from this culture which does indeed often reward extravert behavior in many ways, both small and large?

    Perhaps that’s unfair, and perhaps we’d all benefit if the culture were more introvert-friendly. Nonetheless, making the culture more introvert-friendly and helping those who are not extraverted to navigate the existing culture are not exclusive.

    And in any case, it will almost always be more productive to expand one’s behavioral repertoire than to demand the world recognize and accomodate you just as you are. Do you really want to spend your life complaining about how unfair it all is, and why won’t the world change itself to better suit you (and those like you) already?

    Within this context, pushing kids into public speaking can surely be taken to excess; nonetheless, to just stop requiring them to do things which may be difficult for them does them no favors.

    Perhaps Nietzsche over-reached when he declared “That which does not kill us makes us stronger” (because some things which do not kill can grievously wound), but in general his assertion seems correct: we grow stronger when we accept challenges (even if we don’t always prevail), and weaker when we’re protected from them.

Short answer: no.

I loved public speaking and that ability gave my career a big boost. It is worth learning and doing.

Of FFS, will the pussyfication of this country never cease?

Ok, so what do we do when these high school and college students state that job interviews give them anxiety? Do we make companies comply with new rules?

I remember going to conferences and seeing young people nervously preparing to giving their first professional presentations of some of their findings.

In this world if you cannot give presentations, you will have very few choices of professions and in many you will have limited advancement opportunities.


I gave my students the option of recording their presentations ahead of time. They weren’t as nervous in front of the camera as they were in front of a crowd. They also had the opportunity to edit their tapes. I only asked that they take questions after. They could do that sitting in their seats if standing up in front of class made them too anxious. It was more work to do it that way than to just stand up and spout off, and eventually most of them were OK speaking in front of the class. The Q&A after slowly gave them confidence.

Speaking to a group and completing a group project are both things kids resist. But if they can’t do them, they put limits on themselves. A teacher should push the kids out of their comfort zone, but it can be done with baby steps.

    Good strategy, but I would note that the time for “baby steps” is before college. Parents should be helping kids learn these skills when they’re kids. Nobody is doing anybody any favors by sheltering them from the need to learn how to interact with other humans and express their ideas in a cogent manner.

      elliesmom in reply to Paul. | September 13, 2018 at 6:41 pm

      I didn’t mean to rate your comment. I was hitting reply. I was teaching middle school, and that’s a perfect time to get the kids accustomed to public speaking because they have so much to say about everything and anything. It’s also a good time to teach them the skills they need to be part of a group project. Why being the boss and being bossy are not the same thing.

    Colonel Travis in reply to elliesmom. | September 13, 2018 at 9:13 pm

    I know there are good teachers out there, but there aren’t enough like you.

    nordic_prince in reply to elliesmom. | September 13, 2018 at 9:37 pm

    Ha, that would not have worked for me. I’m more nervous in front of a camera than I am in front of a group.

As with any severe medical or psychological disability, some consideration is in order. But… make it optional (or easy to avoid), would be disastrous to the education or our youth. Public speaking causes most people some discomfort. The sooner they can come to grips with that discomfort the better prepared they will be.

Yes, students can and should learn how to make a presentation. It’s a basic adult skill, similar to reading and writing. Everybody needs to be able to speak up, whether it is in a meeting or to train another, or deal with the bank.

It should start small and early, and culminate in high school with timed presentations on any subject. It should be part of every type of curriculum, including college prep and VOE.

And yeah, we should be aware that this is harder for some kids than others, but nonetheless valuable to them. The goal should be similar to that of the bar- or bat- mitzvah, to be able to stand up in front of a crowd and speak, in order to take one’s place in the adult world.

Apparently you can learn to overcome anxiety, but some famous performers said they threw up before every performance. We know that drug use is common among entertainers. I’m sure that many kids will reach for readily available drugs.

If you want kids to get past this, start in pre school, and get help for anxious kids.

“Nobody should be forced to do something that makes them uncomfortable,” says Ula, a 14-year-old in eighth grade

Haha, wait until Ula gets her draft number.

Oh, right, only the boys get treated to that particular abuse. Never mind.

    Anchovy in reply to tom_swift. | September 13, 2018 at 8:32 pm

    And some idiot down voted your comment? Do they think females are required to register for the draft now? You are right… never seem to hear feminists bitch about that particular inequality do we?

    Anyway, down vote idiot, you are an idiot.

    amatuerwrangler in reply to tom_swift. | September 13, 2018 at 10:30 pm

    Draft numbers today are irrelevant. No one gets drafted. Not so in the past. Much of what some of we old farts complain about in the younger generations is a result of them never having to do something they did not really want to do. When Selective Service said you were 1-A and gave you a free medical exam, you had to decide how you would handle it…. wait for the inevitable, join up with a branch that didn’t involve mud or long walks, etc. You learned that there were dues to be paid for all the good s**t you had been, and will be, enjoying.

    I learned “public speaking” in the Army when I was sent to Drill Sergeant School. We were taught the mechanics of preparation and the presentation. They should teach that stuff in high school, to everyone. It is a valuable tool.

When I was 13 years old, I had to stand up in front of hundreds of people and lead a religious service in a foreign language. Many of the people observing were carefully looking for any mistakes I might make (including criticisms of my singing/chanting!) to tease me about the mistakes afterwards — just as I had been doing to them when it was their turn!! Others were unconditionally supportive.

After that experience, public speaking was never a problem for me. And talking to a jury is a pleasure for me — 12 captive listeners (plus alternates, opposing counsel, etc.), who I hope are hanging on my every word. What an ego trip!!

Kids need these in-class presentations as part of their normal development.

Stand and do the speech or get an F. Simple.

If you learn you can avoid doing something unpleasant that bad behavior will increase.
Overcome the anxiety by stomping it into the ground even though your knees are weak and you feel like peeing your pants while you up in front of everyone.
Then when you’re done and finally sitting down it will be a huge relief until you figure out it wasn’t that bad and you wish you’d had more time.

    Paul in reply to 4fun. | September 13, 2018 at 9:27 pm

    ^^^ this ^^^

    The stress response is a good thing if you learn how to deal with it and channel it. If you retreat to your safe space then you learn to just be a snowflake.

    Friends don’t let friends become snowflakes.

    nordic_prince in reply to 4fun. | September 13, 2018 at 9:43 pm

    Exactly. Letting kids off the hook just feeds the beast. They’ve got to learn to conquer their fears. And yes, it should start earlier than high school – that was part of the purpose of show & tell, oral book reports, and so on.

    Most people don’t like speaking in front of a group, and many are plenty nervous. I get that. But like anything else in life, the more you practice (“Just Do It”), the better you get at it, and the easier it becomes for you.

    Nobody’s expecting these kids to be a Cicero or Seneca, for crying out loud.

“It feels like presentations are often more graded on delivery when some people can’t help not being able to deliver it well, even if the content is the best presentation ever”

“Presentation” and “grading” are distinct issues.

The pressure induced by one can be relieved without having to abandon both. In extreme cases, make “presentation” Pass/Fail. Not so good for a class in rhetoric, or for Debate Club, but maybe adequate for most other purposes.

“It’s not about being a drill instructor”

“Drill” is about everybody doing the same thing the same way . . . “by the book.” Very appropriate, for some jobs; for others, not so much.

“Teaching” is about imparting skill and knowledge in some manner which works for the student. It is not about avoiding things which are difficult to teach. That’s not teaching, that’s failure.

I was always very anxious with presenting. Maybe ther could be a small group of anxious students, who learn more about public speaking, anxiety, and techniques to lower anxiety, etc. This would not replace the regular class time; it would be extra training and skills learning to help them present in class.

Jerry Seinfeld stated that the fear of public speaking is higher on the list with many people than the fear of death.

So some people would rather be in the box than delivering the eulogy.

buckeyeminuteman | September 14, 2018 at 2:37 am

The problem here is that we have created a society where 14 year olds think they get to dictate education rules and cultural norms. As for public speaking, better to learn it in in junior/senior high school than when interviewing for a job or as part of your job. The real world smacks you right in the face the day after you graduate high school. Better learn how to cope with it in a learning environment.

This is an actual job skill.

So, of course, the Left has zero interest in teaching it.

The purpose of a school is to educate.
When a student is assigned an in class presentation, they must learn how to properly prepare lest they end up looking foolish. They must learn how to organize their own thoughts and they must learn to overcome their anxiety of getting in front of others to present. These are all important lessons that people need to learn.
To claim anxiety is too much and students should not have to undergo this is to make the snowflake defense. We only get better by testing our boundaries and overcoming our fears. By allowing the snowflake defense to stand, teachers are allowing crippled students to graduate.


When Final Apocalypse hits, one of the survivors will be carrying important information in his head, like “how to build distillery”. The the rest of us are going to ask if anyone knows how to build one, and he will keep quiet because he has never overcome his fear of public speaking it’s another decade before someone figures it out on their own. A decade without beer.

Do you remember show and tell in kindergarten? You couldn’t wait to get up in front of everyone to share what you brought to class that day, and answer questions. If every teacher continued that each year, in an age appropriate way—say a current event—kids would be “public speaking” without even realizing it. By the time they reach high school, true “public speaking” wouldn’t be an issue.

Class presentations are necessary for the development of human beings. They do two things. 1) they allow a person to develop the skills to deal with a hostile world. 2) they teach the audience that they should have compassion for the person giving the presentation, because it is going to be them up there doing the same thing in the future.

Many things in life are unpleasant; such as pushups. But they prepare us to better face the challenges that we will face in the future.

My two boys, 9 and 12, are homeschooled and in a national homeschooling organization called Classical Conversations, with hundreds of campuses nationwide that meet at churches. It’s s full academic curriculum. They meet for a full day each week to study history, geography and so forth. And public speaking and debate skills are a big part of it. Each kid presents on a topic each week. My 12 year old is in their junior high level curriculum (like 4 hours of work each day) and rhetoric and logic studies is a big part of it. He can describe dozens of logical fallacies to make your average college kid’s head spin.

Sometime in the future they won’t make pilots get into simulators because it will be considered too stressful. Good luck with that SouthWest passengers. Guess, what, these are tests to determine who advances and who doesn’t. The person who needs to be imprisoned is the one who came up with the concept of “participation trophies” in the first place. Life is just a series of pass-fail tests and at some point we all fail.

My dissertation advisor had a policy that everyone has to do a slide-presentation at a major conference at some point. And mine was the worst, because a) it was a hot topic and well attended, and b) our major scientific competition was from a highly respected division head of INSERM who had absolutely THE thickest Parisian accent on the planet. In the Q and A that followed, he immediately asked a question which was completely unintelligible. I asked him to repeat the question 3 times, and of course it did not help that two of my coworkers were now on their knees trying to suppress their laughter at my impossible situation. At one point I looked at the session moderator (a department chair at UCSF) who gave me an “I have no effing idea” shrug. My dissertation advisor, fully knowing me, was terrified that at some point I was going to panic and do a complete Inspector Cluseau, turn to the screen, and in a mock French accent go “be bu, bu bu bu, bu” while giving dismissive gestures. But I eventually sorted out what he was asking and answered the question. The important thing is that I earned the respect of everyone in that room. Not fun at the time, but we still laugh about it as an “it can’t get any worse moment.”

It saddens me that some will not have that opportunity for growth.

This reminds me of a cartoonist who noted that everyone laughs and laughs when the cartoon is making fun of someone else, but when the cartoon hits home, they clutch their pearls and send the “I’ve always enjoyed your cartoons, but THIS cartoon is not funny because..” mail.

Some kids find taking tests stressful. Should we get rid of tests? Some kids find reading stressful. Should we allow them not to read? Should we allow kids who have low IQ’s to opt out of school?

Yes, education should take into account that each child has differences. It would be fine if kids with severe anxiety don’t have to give a presentation. What is troubling is the sense of entitlement displayed.

Yes, let’s remove another important life skill from higher ed because it might make some people feel bad. Please make it stop.

There are many issues someone can have, from ADHD to anxiety to bad home life. School gives you practice dealing with situations and good teachers can structure presentations to ease kids into it (from show and tell on). If kids never have to give a presentation, they never will learn and in life your job may depend on it, from a sales meeting to presenting your department results to your boss.