Should Students Be Able To Opt Out of Public Speaking?

posted by Jonathan - 

Anyone who's ever been in high school or college has done it - present something in front of the class. Whether it's a public speaking class or creative writing or maybe even just a science project, presenting something in front of of 20 or so of your closest peers has always been a (albeit sometimes nerveracking) part of the education experience.

Except maybe it won't be anymore.

A student who just identifies herself as "leen" on Twitter tweeted out "Stop forcing students to present in front of the class and give them a choice not to". She openly suffers from severe anxiety.

The tweet has been retweeted over 130,000 times and commented on 5,000...from people with varying opinions on the matter.

Some people 100% agree that public speaking can be a trigger for anxiety attacks, and therefore teachers should give students the option to not present in front of the class.

But the vast majority agrees that, while public speaking can indeed be anxiety-inducing, it's a necessary life skill and students should do it to develop the ability overcome that anxiety in future situations.

In an article on the subject in The Atlantic, a panel of students, teachers, and medical professionals all weighed in, with one teacher saying "We're in a day and age where we have to acknowledge our students' feelings". A teacher in Connecticut, however, makes a great point about the education system in general - “...pushing outside of comfort zones is also a big part of what we do.”

What do you think? Should students with severe anxiety be allowed to opt out of public speaking? And if so, what would be required for them to have that option? Medical proof? A note from a parent? What would keep students from faking anxiety in order to not have to participate? 

There's no perfect solution, but some of the students above make a great point - eventually you have to speak in front of people.  It might not be in high school, and it might not even be in college. But it will happen, and the more practice you have in uncomfortable situations, the more likely you will be able to handle it as an adult.

Jonathan

Jonathan

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