Grading the Work or the Student?

Nicole Morelli

Public speaking is always a great skill to have mastered, but forcing students to stand before their peers with the fear of talking before others should not be allowed.

Every year students are slammed with projects and Socratic seminars that involve speaking before your entire class. For some students these projects and seminars are a breeze, but for other students it’s their worst fear.

According to fear of public speaking is more than just a phobia.

“It’s a social phobia that is related to self-presentation in front of an audience. Scientists call it sometimes social anxiety disorder,” the website states. “Social phobias often start with shyness in childhood or early adolescence, and progresses during adolescence, according to scientific studies.”

It is an obvious fact that nobody likes to present a project, but standing in front of a classroom full of people comes much more natural to some than others. Junior, Jenna Chaplin, of Franklin High has her own opinion on public speaking.

“When it comes to speaking in front of the class for project presentations or Socratic seminars, I am willing to do it but I don’t like to,” she said. “I always feel uncomfortable and awkward with the fear of messing up. My worst problem is fidgeting and there are some teachers who actually take away points for that. I don’t think it’s fair that teachers force us to do things that make us this uncomfortable.”

Does your voice shake? Do your palms sweat? Does your face turn bright red? If they do, you are certainly not alone. In front of a crowd of people many students automatically begin to break and most teachers actually take points away from a grade when this happens.

Teachers claim that these projects will prepare you for later on in life, but not every job involves public speaking. A classroom is full of current friends, old friends, crushes, and sometimes there will even be a few people you don’t get along with.

A Sophomore at Franklin High who wished to remain anonymous had some thoughts on this topic.

“I have never minded talking in front of a class,” she said. “Projects are never a big deal to me, but I always feel bad for all the people it doesn’t come easy to. Teachers are way to harsh and take away points for saying uhm and not making eye contact and that isn’t fair to people who have trouble accomplishing that kind of thing.”

Grading a student based on factors they cannot help is unfair to many. No student can help if they say “uhm” while remembering their speech or fidget nervously while presenting. Grades should be based on the effort put into projects and the information contained in it along with the quality and structure of the project all together.

What do you think of public speaking?


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