Stop Using Participation Grades To Force Introverts To Speak In Class / by An Huynh

A bit of a diversion from the usual subject matter, but this is important to me. I struggled all throughout high school with classes that based a large portion of its grade on participation. Speaking up was physically and mentally paralyzing. I would be sweating beads, heart rate beating as if I was running, trying to find a moment to force myself to say anything.

Teachers would make comments about how well I would do on written assignments but then would fail to say a single word in class discussions. I hated myself for it. I felt dumb and inadequate. And my grades suffered for it.

It wasn’t until college where I stumbled into a class, and later on a program, that was attuned to our different ways of learning and engagement. I learned that I thrive in small groups, that I actually love public speaking. I spoke up, gave my opinions, and felt like I could make a difference.

As I began to accept the ways in which I learned differently, I also began to appreciate those traits as qualities and not deficiencies. It was OK for me not to speak up in large group discussions, because I knew I could share in smaller groups and in other forms. Having professors who understood the value of students who learned by listening, not speaking, made all the difference in my education and perceptions of self worth.

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