Have you ever wondered sometimes a teacher plan a fascinating topic for his/her class and despite witnessing the students’ interest in the subject, they simply avoid participating in classroom discussion or even sharing their opinion? Every year I encountered such student behaviour in my classroom, and upon counselling the students, I hear the same excuse; ‘I was silent because I was worried to share my opinion, what if someone rejects or laugh at my point’. Interestingly, this year I found the same issue with a number of students in my classroom. But this time not one or two, but majority share the same concern that they fear of being singled out or accidentally saying something offensive. Let’s explore what makes students fear to speak out their minds in front of their peers?
One thing, which is encouraging to me, was that these shy students were eager to talk. They wanted to speak. However, they were afraid of even letting themselves think out loud about a position that might land them in trouble through social grounds. Some research suggests that it would be easier if students assigned an opinion so that they wouldn’t have to be responsible for holding it or feel bad for defending it. But in this way, students find it challenging to engage in an enquiry mode for the topic. Another reason student doesn’t speak up is that they fear to speak in public at all. (Previous Article: Stage Fright: Why Do We Fear Public Speaking). They are often worried the listener will going to judge them if they appear nervous or if they lose their train of thought.
There are several ways, through which students can help themselves in articulating and expressing their thoughts without even seeking assistance from the teacher.
- First of all, just keep this in mind for the rest of your lives, that it is alright to get an answer wrong! The goal of speaking up and asking questions in class is to get a better understanding of the material instead of keeping track of being right or wrong during the whole term.
- It doesn’t mean that one should speak all the time. Speak openly about questions you don’t have answers to or times you’ve been wrong in the past.
- Communication is the key to success. Sharing your opinions sometimes help teachers to plan effective plans for future lessons. This gives them critical stances that might be overlooked by them. It means your opinion valuable enough that might help listeners, including teachers to better understand the topic.
- If the reason for nonparticipation is simply unprepared for the session, then it is not even an issue at all. Talk to your teacher prior to the session and seek out advice/updates for the skipped classes. This will help you sort out variety of options that help to overcome the issue.
- If you fear public speaking then start jotting down your thoughts in a piece of paper and read them out loud during a discussion, so there’s no risk of losing your train of thoughts.
- There is no rush of blurting out all the ideas/opinions in one go. Be relax and participate slowly and gradually.
If the above mention remedies do not work at all for you, then simply discuss your anxiety with your teacher. Your teacher is the first and foremost line of defence for all your study-related issues. Addressing your concerns with your teacher not only reduce the level of anxiety about having an entire classroom listening but it also makes you confident and relaxed.
Good luck! 🙂