Are you afraid of being on the spotlight in class? Asking questions or answering them? You are not alone!
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Have you ever heard of the Harkness Method? If not, do not worry my friend, Wikipedia has got your back!
The Harkness table, Harkness method, or Harkness discussion is a teaching and learning method involving students seated in a large, oval shape to discuss ideas in an encouraging, open-minded environment with only occasional or minimal teacher intervention.
My former high school(s) encouraged more of a ‘Speak when you have something to say – not when you have to say something’ attitude where students were expected to speak (hopefully) when they had something to say. However, students could raise their hands to draw attention if necessary or just spit out whatever question they had – in a respectful and polite manner of course. Now in college, CSS to be particular, its quite different – depends with the instructor really. Most of my college classes have been, fortunately and unfortunately, lecture based and with a few occasions of open discussion. I often find myself hesitant to raise my hand. I sometimes actually take more time debating whether to raise my hand or not than I take to think about the question I am responding to.
Often, I notice a few classmates with the same issue – they want to participate so much but the first step of raising their hand or speaking out freaks them out so much that you can almost see them sink in their desks. Shia LaBeouf made a great motivational video called ‘Just Do It’ and you can watch it here. I find that this is the most effective way when in doubt – just do it, even when you think your question or answer is not relevant or is off topic or ‘silly’. Once you do this a number of times, your confidence levels will be off the ground and you will actually start to enjoy class more. I often use this learning technique in my not-so-easy classes i.e. the ones that kinda threaten to distort your logic.
So, instead of keeping to yourself, be more active in class and your energy is most likely to rub onto other students and the whole class might catch fire and the instructor will have to stay up longer to prepare for class because the students are just on top of the game!
Just do it!