Discuss: Should Students Be Required To Speak In Class?


A high school teacher argued in The Atlantic that students should be required to speak in class, because speaking up is a requirement of a successful adult life.

(This response argues that a student who doesn’t speak in class isn’t necessarily an introvert.)

And this writer argues that speaking up in class isn’t necessarily a very good indicator of learning engagement, and that being called upon to answer questions in front of an audience can actively turn students off learning:

I hated speaking in front of people then, and I hate doing it now. In between, I hated being called on when my hand wasn’t raised, which some teachers did to try to encourage more participation. But all it succeeded in doing was to make me fear those classes and to be so busy worrying that I wasn’t learning. I hated oral presentations. I hated having to be the spokesperson for group work. I hated anything that caused me to be the center of attention for more than a couple of people at a time.

Which point of view do you agree with the most?



Hilda Bewildered is the story of a girl who is about to give her first big speech. Her audience is huge because she happens to be a princess who has come of age. As you read the story, take note of how she manages her fear.

  1. What is something you’re afraid of?
  2. How do you manage your fear?
  3. Are there things you would like to do, but don’t because you’re afraid?
  4. Which of your fears are based on real and present danger, and which are irrational?
  5. In contrast, can you think of some things you perhaps should logically be afraid of, but aren’t?


TED Talk Radio, episode entitled ‘Fear’ features a speaker talking about the way in which fear is a kind of subconscious storytelling. When we’re afraid of something we tell ourselves stories about all the bad things which may happen. See What Fear Can Teach Us.

In Hilda Bewildered, the Princess feels the fear of public speaking, but manages it by concocting a tale in which she is an invisible version of herself. The story about The Other Hilda replaces all the usual fears people have before speaking before large crowds.