A recent article in The Atlantic brought up is seemingly troubling subject. Teens are voicing their opinion that being forced to speak up in classes is discriminatory:
“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. This week, a tweet posted by a 15-year-old high-school student declaring “Stop forcing students to present in front of the class and give them a choice not to” garnered more than 130,000 retweets and nearly half a million likes. A similar sentiment tweeted in January also racked up thousands of likes and retweets. And teachers are listening.”
Hmmm. I’ve got some thoughts…
I was out at LinkedIn’s Talent Connect recruiting conference this past week. Great content, engaged recruiting pros and leaders, and a lot of great data being shared. One of those data points shared by CEO Jeff Weiner was the largest skills gap currently in need by employers. Can you guess which skill was most needed?
- Tech/IT/coding-type of skills? No, but not a bad guess!
- Healthcare/Nursing skills? No, but another great guess!
The #1 most sought after skill by employers is Oral Communication!
Turns out that we have a ton of kids coming into the workforce that have a hard time communicating orally! Hmmm…
Yeah, so we should probably not make kids who have anxiety over public speaking not speak in the safe environment of a classroom in front of a trained educator!
You know what, most people have anxiety about public speaking. The answer isn’t let’s try and find ways for these kids not to speak, its let’s find ways to get these kids to begin speaking in small ways where they start to gain confidence and little by little start ramping up how and where they speak.
Education isn’t about making some comfortable. It’s about making you uncomfortable in a safe way. If we know kids need oral communication skills to be successful in the work world, we must demand that our educators help make this happen.
I get we are in a time where kids have a great platform to voice their opinions and desires. Good for them! It’s awesome time to be alive. Also, these are kids. Kids can be super smart, and super short sited. It’s our job as adults to say, “I hear you! Public speaking in front of your peers is hard. That’s why you actually need to do it more, not less.”
So, knowing this is a skill that most adults also struggle with, what do you think? Should we be finding alternatives for kids who don’t want to speak in front of their class, or should we make them stand up and speak?
I’m all for making them uncomfortable and teaching them a skill that will help them the rest of their life. I don’t need them to get on stage and speak in front of an audience, but I do need them to be in a meeting with ten co-workers and be willing and active in that conversation!