Thursday, April 23, 2009


Today, one of our fellow classmates asked me, "How come you don't usually participate in didn't say anything yesterday" After thinking about this comment I realized that is actually rather true and, indeed, I do not typically participate in whole group discussion. Debating hot topics has always made me extremely uncomfortable and anxious. As comments are brewing and discussion becomes heated, I will, without fail, be the girl in the corner slowly inching down in her seat and averting all eye contact with others. Though Deb discourages us from becoming paralyzed and failing to say anything at all as a result of paranoia about saying the wrong thing, I cannot help but let this intrusive form of thinking dominate my mindset. I have never thought about the various reasons underlying my feelings until I realized that my behavior was noticeable by others in the class. Coming from a strict private catholic highschool (and elementary and middle school for that matter) it has been quite difficult for me to adjust to the radical views presented in courses at Michigan State University. I think my discomfort then, does not necessarily lie in the fact that I disagree with the issues being discussed, but rather lies in that these controversial issues simply maintained a "dont ask, dont tell" position in my former educational experience and were certainly never openly discussed. Though I have attended Michigan State for 4 years now, I still have not been able to overcome my reservations and it is frustrating. I think the issues we are discussing in this course are fascinating, crucial topics of conversation, however, I just cannot bring myself to be one to openly engage in the dialogue and discourse of discussion. Does anyone else struggle with this or have suggestions for overcoming this plight? I guess I am posting about my issues surrounding the discourse of hot topics because I worry that if I am not even able to discuss these issues with my peers, then how will I ever feel comfortable introducing them into a classroom. And, suppose I do sporadically find the courage to discuss these issues with children, how would I ever feel confident enough in my choice to stand my ground when parents and/or school administration question my motives? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!


  1. I really understand where you are coming from. I struggle with this in my TE 402 math class. I am always afraid of giving the wrong answer and I have been this way with math my entire life.
    I understand your situation is slightly different because what I see you saying is that you are more worried about talking about issues that are considered 'touchy' subjects. I think when it comes to being in the classroom, you will feel different because you will for one, be with students who are younger than you, and for two, probably will understand far less about the 'touchy' subject than you do. You can look at it as more of an exploration together as team to discover the right from the wrong and use is as a learning process for teacher and students. Students love to help out their teacher so I think they would be so happy if you spoke to them about the certain issues as if you wanted to learn more about it yourself. Just a small option..take it or leave it :)

  2. I am just like you. During hard topics or just big group discussions, I tend to keep my mouth shut. I many times have something that I would like to say, but am not sure how to say it and by the time I decide to raise my hand, someone else is already speaking. I don't enjoy being quiet all the time, but I do learn a lot just from listening. I wish I could offer advice, but since I struggle with this too, I can't. Just keep trying, that's what I do. As for in the classroom, I agree with Britt. I think it will be a little easier in a classroom, where you are speaking about these things with your students instead of your peers. Just know that you aren't alone! :)

  3. Brittany,
    I found your post an interesting one for me to read because this is not an issue that I have put much thought in to since it has not been something I've had to deal with in a long time. When I was younger I was extremely shy and me saying something in class almost became a big event for the teacher, but I have overcome this issue. I'm not sure if I do not have this problem anymore because I have become more extroverted, or if I've become extroverted because I've conquored this problem, but the two were very linked for me. I think the way I remember beginning to break out of that shell was forcing myself to say at least one thing during each period for every class. I gradually became more comfortable, and I did not have to force it as much, and then I was able to be a really active member of discussion. My problem now is remembering to not take over conversations and to make sure that all students in the class have an opportunity to speak.

  4. Hi Brittany,
    I think I can relate to what you're feeling. In no way am I disinterested in the topics we discuss in class, in fact, I'm always on the edge of my seat. Still, I can't ever seem to speak my mind when it comes to participating in class discussions. What's really strange though, is that I'm not this way in my other classes. I don't really understand it because Deb has created a very comfortable classroom environment in which anyone should feel completely safe to voice their opinions, yet still, I tend to keep quiet. In class, we've discussed the importance of speaking up, and supporting what we believe is right, like the inclusion of multicultural literature in the classroom. I too feel anxious about whether or not I will always be able to do this. It's not that I don't have opinions or feelings towards the issues that we discuss, I just feel apprehensive about discussing my feelings with others. I think that when we have our own students we will realize how important our role is in their education, not only on the curriculum but their education on life. I definitely think that that alone will give me the courage I need to be able to discuss these topics. I hope that your internship year goes well for you and hopefully, you will be able to discuss hot topics more easily!