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Make public speaking a part of our school curriculum from kindergarten onward.

What potential could we unlock if we grew up feeling unafraid of speaking in front of groups of people? To make public speaking a natural part of a childs world early on would enable them to more readily speak up and better perpare them for their careers later. I believe it would also unlock potential that may otherwise not be acted upon because of fear of having to expose themselves in ways they haven't had to previously.

  • Feb 28 2014: Working with children, I have seen two distinct advantages of introducing them to public speaking at early years.
    1. Increased confidence and decreased stage fright. A child who developed low self esteem due to being labelled as a slow learner, a child who had inhibitions talking in front of a whole class, started to become smarter and more vocal after a series of public speaking, theatre, role play sessions. This in turn helped them better in their studies and also in their relationships with family and friends. This new found confidence also helped them perform better in their extra curricular activities in school.
    2. Public speaking sessions also helped children in better problem understanding and thus better articulation of the solution. These sessions indirectly helped the children to make better decisions, voice opinions and manage conflicts at home and at school.
  • Feb 28 2014: I agree that public speaking should be practiced more often; I think it should be apart of English class's curriculum! However, some people wouldn't be able to get the hang of it, like, as mentioned by others, those with social anxiety or speech impediments.

    In my AVID class last year, we did a public speaking unit and it was mandatory that everyone give speeches and presentations. My friends, who are more timid than me, absolutely hated it; despite being as smart as they are, they never learned from all our lessons.

    As for me, the unit really helped me become more outgoing and less insecure. Granted, I'm still somewhat shy and socially awkward if my friends aren't around, but I am able to speak in public with confidence.
  • Feb 28 2014: I can undertand what you are saying, but I have trouble seeing people get behind this.
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    Feb 27 2014: It cannot be a part of required curriculum. In some people, any kind of public attention causes anxiety attack. Children with speech impediments would be doomed to fail this class. For some children, such class may "unlock their potential", for some children, it may develop an inferiority complex and even worsen their fear of public speaking.
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    Feb 26 2014: Ronnae, I would like to discuss several parts to your question.

    1) Todays 1st grade is yesterdays 3rd grade. The expectations are much greater. How did that occur? The onus is no longer on the student but on the teacher to maintain state and federal goals. These unfunded requirements are specifically directed to STEM and CORE and come with dialy guides and lesson plans designed to teach the high stakes tests which are the new assessment tool.

    2) What is important to the government is rated in Math, reading, and writing, and science. All resources are directed to those elements. Because of the unfunded requirements additional classes in the arts have been priortized for elimination ... such as art, band, shop, music, etc ...

    3) Failure to comply is met by the federal government reducing funding to the states and the states reducing funding to school districts .... so the importance of the high stakes testing is critical to the school and the individual teachers evaluation.

    That is a long way to say that speech and debate are no longer important to the decision makers (federal government). Rather that increasing those areas you are more likely to see elimination.

    Teachers understand the value of oral presentations and continue show and tell and question and answers.

    The good news is that religious leaders understand these values and provide opportunities to youth to take part in services, keep diaries, provide youth forums, host scouting, and projects in the community.

    I ask to speak to a manager at a local store and was greeted by a youth with many face peircings and a hearty "whtz up". The importance of appearance and communications has been abandoned for profits.

    I agree with you of the importance .... but we are facing a educational crisis ... the crisis is politically initiated ... the key ios to get involved ... ask tough questions at mid term elections .. regain control of the schools.

    Be well. Bob.
  • Feb 26 2014: It would make such a difference, if a culture is established in which you learn at an early age not to be afraid to voice your ideas / thoughts and that your ideas / thoughts are respected as well as that you will be respected for sharing your ideas and thoughts.

    I fully agreed with your suggestion. I have seen it with my own kids, who were in Kindergarden and school in Australia where speaking in front of the class, at school assemblies and during other public / scholl events such as school plays is part of th normal school curriculum. My kids are now less afraid of speaking in front of their class or in public. If you look at meetings in which Australians participate - most of the time they don't mind to speak in front of the group or present - and school curriculum may play a role in it ?
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    Feb 25 2014: I completely agree of this importance and think programs like Toastmasters could be forked for children's curriculum. Given the right leadership in that arena, it's definitely scalable.
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    Feb 24 2014: I couldn't agree more - I am always terrified of doing it even though I do it on a regular basis! It's interesting to see also that even Ted speakers, who are so well established in their careers, also get stage fright. Encouraging public speaking earlier on might help crack the problem.
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    Gord G

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    Feb 24 2014: Here's another thought…

    Why don't we make public acceptance part of our curriculum.

    Kids could stand in front of the class and the other children would have to publicly acknowledge their worth as a person. They could begin by complimenting them on their attire and their unique points of view. Perhaps as they get better at expressing themselves, they could learn to appreciate ethnic diversity, sexual preference and religious tolerance. Then at the end of the presentation everyone could hug.

    Of course this may require homework. They may have to ask why their parents are so intolerant.

    Never mind… hugging could be misinterpreted.
    • Feb 24 2014: And let's also make all kind of other indoctrinations part of the curriculum! At what point do we simply make it illegal to raise ones own children and force people to turn their children over at birth to government-run institutions 100% of the time. Pop the pup out, then wave goodbye to it forever. Government will handle everything! Do NOT attempt to make contact. Government is mother. Government is father.
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        Gord G

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        Feb 24 2014: Sounds like you need a hug Bryan.

        Great fiction…though that story has already been written by Lois Lowry. It's called "The Giver" and it won a Newberry Medal.
        • Feb 25 2014: And you advocate the first steps toward making that fiction a reality.
  • Feb 24 2014: HI Dear Ronnae,it is a really good idea for kindergarten children learning.Infact it is a quite popular amond Chinese students:being extremely active in primary school classroom learning:they are used to look at teachers talking curiously a nd raise their hands to answer teachers' question.When they are junior middle students,they start to used to listening to teachers talking and answer teachers with nodding head..And when they are high school students,most of them just sitting in the classroom and do nothing most of time.

    I teach Information Technology subject at high school.a few years ago,I was aware of teachers keep talking in the classroom was so bad.and then I start to design my teaching to motivate students to talk more.Sometimes I design some teaching themes in my teaching.For examples:forcus on Mom' love to design website or work in computer;focus on'health friendship'.Sometimes I design dabating contest and help my students to express themselves more in public.It is really not easy.But all what did in my teaching do impressed my students a lot.Because some of students I don't teach them anymore,but when they see me ,they always like to mention what debating contest we had together.

    And the most difficult thing for me to motivate my students speaking is:every class in my teaching are about sixty-student.hardly for me to pay attention to every student in my class.I often feel sorry for that.
    • Feb 24 2014: It should also be noted that China does not lead the world in Nobel Prize winners. They are also known for lack of innovation and lack of individual initiative.
      • Feb 26 2014: Yes,we are aware of it,but for such a large population country,it is really not easy to change the situation as soon as we want.
  • Feb 24 2014: I could not agree more - This used to be normal back in the 50's and 60's but became "incorrect" - I believe it was that it made students feel uncomfortable - think that is part of education - pushing the envelope.
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    Feb 23 2014: Hopefully the public speaking process would include such inculcating such skills as objective discourse, objective reasoning, active listening and, most importantly, personal counseling for those who will inevitably struggle with either the process or the concept if not both. They can't just be tossed into the activity to sink or swim.

    Of course, once a generation of students was empowered to not only speak rationally and with some authority there are going to be more than few parents and school personnel being challenged and taken to task over their own lack of understandings and limited communication skills at times.
    • Feb 23 2014: Yes, I agree with Fritzie that there is more presenting in the school curriculum these days. But what I'm suggesting is exactly what you have stated so elegantly and taht is all the associated skills that are required to be successful and comfortable at public speakingy. Just as being successful at math means starting with the basics of numbers I would like to see the same type of structured learning for the skills of public speaking. Because you're right, it involves all those other skills that will add value in many other areas.

      In regards to your last comment about a generation of students being taught to challenge the status quo, I say, what better legacy can we leave?
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        Feb 24 2014: Agreed Ronnae, that is if we are going to be serious about the concept of education. Unfortunately we all seem to saddled with politicians, bureaucrats and administrators who are obsessed with "cost" when it comes to "education" and the finished product takes a back seat, while at the same time who seem to spare no expense when it comes to their own lifestyles.
    • Feb 24 2014: What you are asking for is nothing short of a return to the old Liberal Arts. An excellent idea. Today's culture will never allow it.
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        Feb 26 2014: sorry to be so long in replying, power was out for 2 days.

        I agree with all your points. Hence a sad commentary on the culture itself.
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    Feb 22 2014: sounds like a good idea. I wonder why people haven't thought of this before?
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      Feb 22 2014: it is really common in schools to get children used to public speaking starting in kindergarten. They start by presenting things to the class.
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        Feb 23 2014: but they don't do it too often, right? I maybe gave three or four presentations between kindergarten and twelfth grade?

        I suppose another form of public speaking is contributing in a discussion? We had discussions in class, but I almost never spoke, although I listened to my fellow students.
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          Feb 23 2014: I cannot remember that level of detail of earliest schooling but can only say what is done now. Kids are presenting to the class in one way or another all the time- reports on books, taking an assigned position in a debate, playing a role in a skit, showing how to do a math problem on the board, sharing research assigned to them and chosen by them to present to the class, reporting out in a full class plenary after small group discussion, reading their poetry or prose aloud to the class...
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        Feb 26 2014: oh, I wish you could remember, F, because I would then have to think it has changed since I was a kid, and I would want to ask you why it has changed.
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          Feb 26 2014: Oh, I can tell you it has changed. I just don't remember how many presentations we gave. I would have said quite a few each year.

          For example, if you remember, didn't you always do oral book reports at least through grade school, several each year? I remember geometry presentations I gave in both sixth and seventh grade and classroom debates in eleventh and twelfth grade, presentations of science fair projects for people coming through in multiple grades, talks by kids running for student council office, lots of school plays in both grade school and middle school, a couple of presentations at least in twelfth grade English- I remember specifically presenting to the class on Descartes and Epicurus, in tenth and eleventh grade English on Edgar Allen Poe and William Blake. That's what I remember, and I am sure my memories are incomplete. I remember my sister's giving a presentation in sixth grade to all the kids and parents of sixth graders on the world's great non-Christian religions.
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        Feb 27 2014: f, if there's really all those oral presentations, why are there still people who arrive at adulthood and who still say "Oh, I'm bad at speaking in front of a group?"
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          Feb 27 2014: Perhaps because they have done it enough times to see that it doesn't come naturally or it made them feel uncomfortable. I have seen students make presentations many times, and they are not equally good at it.

          Think of teachers you have had through your schooling, all of whom speak in front of people all the time. Some are very good at it. Others not so much, despite lots of time at the lectern.
    • Feb 24 2014: They did--centuries ago. It was part of the old Liberal Arts (which has nothing at all to do with political liberalism or that worthless tripe of a college major called "Liberal Arts"). The Liberal Arts were originally grammar, rhetoric, and logic. To these were later added mathematics (arithmetic + geometry), music, and natural science (astronomy). The first three were still considered the most important. These things are no longer fashionable, and attempts to teach them are met with great resistance from political liberals and political conservatives.
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        Feb 26 2014: you're saying kids were studying liberal arts (grammar, rhetoric, and logic) starting in kindergarten? And doing public speaking in class starting from kindergarten? What's your evidence on that, Bryan?
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    Feb 22 2014: Excellent idea, Ronnae!