Uncomfortable class environment prevents participation among students

Brianna Carmack, Opinions Editor

I’ve had countless moments in school, kindergarten to now, where I have felt like I am the only one participating in class. Yes, there were and are those moments when I have zero motivation to answer a question, but I feel like most of the time I am willing to speak up. However, during those moments, I immediately always have thoughts about why the students, who I considered to be walking intellectuals, never answered a simple question.

The real answer: they’re not comfortable.

The feeling I have when I get an answer wrong — and I mean really wrong — is what other students wish to prevent by keeping quiet.

It sucks. It’s humiliating. It’s straight up embarrassing and I can’t help but not blame the students who feel that way.

Students fear other students. It’s easy to lose focus, while students can’t help but keep their mouth shut. The teasing, gossiping, smart remarks, sarcasm, etc. is severely hard to look at. Although I can say that it rarely happens, it still happens. This brings us back to the golden rule learned back in kindergarten: If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.

Throughout my days as a student, I have noticed that the teachers are trying to prevent humiliation in their classroom by not randomly calling for answers. However, there is that slim amount — and maybe for you, more — that completely disregard the fact that people have feelings and get embarrassed. This is not fair. This is useless. How is calling on someone with a 50/50 chance of having the answer or not making the pace of the class move faster? It doesn’t. The number of times where I have seen flustered hands or a sweaty face from being forced to step out of their comfort zone is astonishing. I can’t help but sympathize for that person.

The simple answer for zero participation is not that the students are idiots, but that the teachers and students aren’t providing a comfortable environment that students feel as ‘welcoming.’

After looking at a Ted Talk from Susan Cain and reading her interview, she brings up the best possible answer for providing that comfortable space for introverts.

“I believe that we need to do general teacher training to just make them aware of what makes a student an introvert, what that means and how best to cultivate the talent of those students,” Cain said, “to raise awareness of what an extroverted act it is in the first place to go to school.”

Cain provides options for teachers on making the classroom a comfortable environment and I can’t help but agree with what she has to say.

In the end, students aren’t comfortable at school. It’s simple. There’s too much pressure on them to get the answer correct. With more acknowledgment of introverts from teachers and students as well as learning the golden rule, class participation will increase among all schools internationally.