Many teachers from across the nation include class participation in their syllabus or grading procedures. In the end, teachers evaluate students by class participation to fill out their final grade. An A student can easily drop down to a B student simply on the account that he/she has an anxiety disorder which causes the involvement of class participation to be extremely difficult. To raise a hand in class for an anxiety prone child, is like raising your hand after it has been covered in concrete and left to dry.
That anxious student gets cottonmouth to the point where he/she cannot speak because the mouth and throat are so dry. He/she sweat everywhere. Wiping their hands on their trousers in order to get the sweat off their palms, only draws attention to the problem.
In a recent survey, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America discovered 40 million United States adults experience anxiety. The number that teachers and college professors should pay attention to is three-fourths of that group experience their first episode before they turn 22. Some people with anxiety also suffer from depression or vice versa. Half of the people diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with anxiety.
“Don’t pick me!”
During my educational career which spanned three decades and produced three degrees, from pre-school to a Master’s degree, I battled anxiety. I remember saying in my head “please don’t pick me, please don’t pick me” as the teacher’s eyes panned the classroom. All the while, I would busy myself or look the other way. Unfortunately, it did not always work.
As a teacher, of course I would ask for volunteers to help me with a science experiment or for someone to give an answer to a question. However, I never required my students to participate in order to receive a grade. Some of my students would have been driven to tears if that happened. Many of my students were very broken in so many ways.
We are all different
In my experiences, I noticed students with or without an academic struggle due to a mental illness would do poorly on a test and completely knock it out of the park on the class projects or labs. It didn’t matter if they had anxiety, depression or OCD, they were given the chance to show me they had learned something in a way that made them shine.
Just think, student A would experience the opportunity to walk into his/her science room without fear. The classroom would be geared toward the needs of the students, such as diminishing the anxiety of the student.
Backed into a corner
The Racquet exclaims:
“Requiring hand raising and the putting out of thoughts in front of a class may be a hit at them. Yes, some may be able to say that this requirement helps to reduce shyness, forcing people out of their safe zones, but force cannot always cure anxiety disorders. No student should feel scared to go to a class, knowing they’ll be forced to speak in front of a crowd just to keep their grade intact.”
Students, I urge you to speak up for yourselves. If you have a mental illness, you have the right to a proper education that meets your needswherever you are. Do not struggle like I did. I was miserable.
Teachers and professors, when you are creating your syllabus keep in mind not all students learn like you or the student at the head of the class. Reach out and meet them where they are. Learn alternative ways to teach.
If this blog sounded familiar regarding your son, niece, a friend or yourself then I encourage you to maturely exercise your right to speak up. We do not want to cultivate an atmosphere of fear in our houses of education.
What are you going to do to change the face of education and mental illness when you go back to school in the fall?
What do you do, having anxiety, if your teacher/professor requires the class to participate in class in order to receive a grade?
What are your coping strategies to handle a war against you and your anxiety or other mental illness?