Although many teachers are able to teach children how to write, or how to spell, or how to complete basic math problems, many teachers forget that class participation should play an important part in any curriculum. Class participation has become a sort of a joke in many classrooms, not only because it has been done for the wrong reasons but also because students are not encouraged to do it as often as they should.
Some teachers will say that class participation is not mandatory, and that this supports those children who are shy or who hesitate to speak in public. However, this choice harms those students more than it benefits them. For, class participation encourages the development of a few basic social interactions and the need to share knowledge with each other.
Class participation not only benefits individual students, but the whole class in general. For example, when a class has to write individual summaries about a book, the ideas remain separate. Each person will know his opinions and ideas about that book, but other students won’t know his ideas. This is the problem with the lack of class discussion. If the students were encouraged to speak and discuss the book together, each student would be able to easily learn about the other students’ ideas and they can form new ideas together.
In addition, class participation encourages teamwork and the acceptance of others’ ideas. We often think that ideas are free; we can think about this or that without worrying that someone will physically hurt us because of our opinions. Many students, however, worry that their ideas won’t be good enough for their peers, and sometimes are scared about expressing them. Students should be encouraged to participate in class so that they realize that everyone’s ideas may be different and that, as a social rule, everyone should be accepting of differing ideas.
Students should not be left behind academically when they could be learning better through the Socratic Seminar teaching method or through learning with the help of one another’s ideas. Not only that, but students will be taught how to be less prejudiced, if at all, of different ideas that are not their own. They will expand and broaden their knowledge and perhaps form new friendships or connections with their classmates.
Class participation should be encouraged in every classroom in every school in the world. Without this valuable tool in education, students will have a very individualized learning experience.