Alternative Education

It was recently brought to my attention that a former student wrote an essay about me for another one of her classes. How sweet is that?

I suggest giving it a read and then doing a lecture tour.

SPEAK by Mary

Did you know that public speaking is one of the most common phobias and more than 75% of people are scared to make a speech or talk in front of people?

I would say that public speaking is one of my biggest fears, or it used to be. Ever since I can remember I hated going up and speaking in front of the class. I specifically recall one time in fourth grade when I had to read a report I wrote on some state out loud to the class. When the teacher called my name, I just stayed in my seat and said “No, I can’t do this.” She asked if I wanted her to read it for me, and I whined “Nooo!” I think I probably started crying but I do not remember much after that.

I stumble over my words, my palms get sweaty, my voice turns to a whisper, and my face burns red. However, what I think really gets me the most is what people will think of my writing and how they will judge me. Will they think what I am writing about is stupid? Or my facts are wrong? Or that my opinions are dumb?

I’ve noticed that this has also translated into my everyday life now. I am so afraid of what others will think of me that I resolve to saying as little as possible, making them believe I’m extremely shy.

I have managed to get through my life so far giving minimal speeches or toughing it out when I had too. However, last year I took a class that ended this phobia of mine.

Everyone needs one art credit to graduate. I am not much of an artist so art class was out of the question and I heard digital photography was an easy A. So I signed up for it. Little did I know that they had hired a new teacher for the class, and it was now digital photography/media arts. This teacher’s name was Mr. Zlomek or Mr. Z, we would call him. On the first day he told us this class was going to be different from the previous class and we would do more than just take pictures. Our first homework assignment was too draw a picture describing ourselves and make a presentation on it the next day. I freaked out inside. I thought this class was going to be just taking pictures. Now I have to show the class my horrible drawing skills and share things about myself to all these people I do not know. This was going to be the worst class ever. When fourth period came around the next day, I quickly said a few things about me and sat back down. The jittery, nervous feeling decreased and I took a deep breath. Thank god that was over with.

The weeks went on. Mr. Z made us do presentations once or twice a week on our completed projects. The projects consisted from a whole array of things, from self portraits to documentaries to animations, which was my favorite. Every day on presentation day, the nerves would build up inside me from the moment I woke up and course through me like water in rapids until the second I said “And that was my project.”

But many presentations later, I felt a shift in my attitude. I realized this speech I’m going to make is only going to be about 3 or 4 minutes of my life. Why should I be nervous over 3 or 4 minutes? Also, these projects that I created were completely mine. My own original ideas. And I am proud of them. I want to show people, and tell them why I made them and what they mean. I have worked hard on them and spent a lot of time creating them. I want everyone to see them and if they do not like them, then I do not care because there are probably plenty of people that do like them. Most likely, people will probably even forget about my project or speech ten minutes after I give it. That is fine with me. But, if they happen to remember it, then I feel like I’ve made an impact on them, which is always nice, be it good or bad.

I still get nervous when going to make a speech or present something, but now I am much more calm. I am also more confident with myself and do not worry how others view me. That class and Mr. Z taught me that instead of feeling nervous or afraid of giving presentations, I could feel excited about sharing something that is all mine and the possibility of impacting someone’s life. In the words of Maya Angelou, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

I could not have asked for a better compliment. When things like this are brought to my attention I always wish I could just hop back into the classroom and continue to form young minds. Perhaps that will happen sometime in the near future.

Thanks again for the essay, Mary.

Stay Glossophobic,
Ryan Zlomek