Every Baylor student knows the situation. You’re sitting in a class, the professor is giving a lecture, and then he pauses to direct a question to the class. There’s silence. Then more silence. Then it becomes an awkward silence. Eventually the professor moves on, but it’ll happen again.
Students don’t like to talk in class. Even when professors pose the most basic question, they often get nothing but quiet in return. It’s disrespectful and, frankly, embarrassing.
Students need to learn to speak up in class. You’re at Baylor to learn, and dialogue with the professor and the rest of the class is an important part of the process. Not engaging in class discussions, or not having them at all, takes away from your education.
Speaking in public is a skill you’ll need in the future, regardless of your profession. College is a great place to learn and cultivate that skill. Regardless of how badly you mess up an answer, no matter how far off the mark you are, it won’t get you fired and, in a few weeks, nobody is going to remember it. College is the last stage in life where you get points for trying, so take advantage of that. Build the speaking skills you’ll need later.
Refusing to speak up in class is rude. You wouldn’t sit and stare at someone in stony silence in a one-on-one conversation. It’s just as impolite to do it in a classroom setting, especially a smaller classroom setting. It’s disrespectful to the professor and it must be incredibly frustrating for them.
When a professor asks the class a question, he is directing the question to the class as a whole — but he’s also directing it to you, as you’re part of the class.
Hold up your end of the conversation and give him an answer.
The professor wouldn’t have posed the question if he didn’t think it would help you learn the material somehow. Answering a question or joining a class discussion shows that you care about you education and it’ll help you learn.
Speaking up could help you enjoy a class or professor more. Engaging in a class discussion prevents boredom and keeps you focused, which can improve your grade. A lot of classes even have participation grades, and if that’s the only way you’ll speak up, fine. Might as well earn those points; they can come in handy when finals roll around.
Finally, joining a class discussion helps your voice be heard and builds confidence. If you have even the slightest opinion on the subject, speak up. Even if you’re afraid — especially if you’re afraid — speaking in class can be a great confidence builder, and it’s better to share than hold something in. You never know how many people may turn out to be in agreement with you.
So next time the professor asks a question, answer. It’s only going to be good for you, so go for it. The professor will appreciate it, it’ll help your education, it’ll build confidence and vital life skills, and even if you say something dumb or answer a question completely wrong, in a few weeks nobody will remember or care.
What have you got to lose?
Jenna Press is a junior journalism and professional writing double major from Ramstein, Germany. She is the assistant city editor and a regular columnist for the Lariat.