What Every Student Needs To Learn This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

March 8, 2010
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Sitting at a desk day after day, listening to lectures on things that have no relevance to you, and attempting to do math problems that you’ll never need in real life results in a pretty unmotivating school experience – trust me. When we examine the reasons why students get so bored in class, it’s not necessarily because the subject matter itself is boring – it’s because it’s not relevant. Students look at a subject and ask, “Why do I need to know this? I’ll never use it!” Most teachers give the cognitive development excuse, which, for the most part, is credible; but when we get down to the root of the problem, we realize that school curriculums fail to address the real-world skills that students need to acquire in order to be successful. So, what is the one thing that students truly need to learn in school? The answer is quick and simple: public speaking.

Most students freeze in horror at the thought of having to give a speech in front of a class, let alone in an auditorium of 500 people, or at a graduation ceremony with over 1000. What these students don’t realize, however, is that public speaking is most often times the number one skill employers look for. Schools unfortunately fail to address this fact.

Students looking to be successful need to know how to address a crowd, whether it be of ten people or of a thousand. The first time most students give a professional speech is in college, and by that time their public speaking abilities are already expected to be up to par. Shaky voices, stumbling speech, and reading off dozens of note cards, however, falls well below the bar of expectation. In order to correct this, schools need to teach students early that they cannot go through life without learning how to speak publicly to a crowd. Once they learn how, the benefits are endless.

I recently found myself in a phone conversation with a professor of my university that I had never met before. We chatted for some time while I wondered exactly why he had called me, until he got to the point – he needed someone to speak at a benefactor dinner the coming week. Feeling completely confident in my public speaking abilities, I accepted the offer, and at the dinner, my speech ended up being the highlight of the night. I give credit to the fact that I was taught how to properly give a speech and how to deliver it confidently. I’ve realized more and more that my public speaking skills give me a very noticeable edge above those students who don’t possess them, and in a world that is driven by powerfully-spoken people, teaching that skill to students should be on the top of every school’s priority list.

Instead of sitting in a didactic classroom, students truly need to learn the skills that are relevant to them in today’s world. People won’t be able to tell with a first impression if you’re a genius at mathematics, but they will be able to tell if you’re a good communicator. Public speaking creates confidence, improves communication skills both verbally and written, and gives students the opportunity to connect with other people on a level much different than everyday conversation. Public speaking is truly the one thing that every student needs to learn.

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earlybird_8 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 8, 2011 at 9:29 pm
This is so true! Stuff like algebra or literary analysis have limited applications in the real world, but dominate high school curriculums. Good communication, a subject that is rarely, if ever, taught in schools, is important in any job you choose, be it a flight attendant or a neurosurgeon.
AnneOnnimous said...
Sept. 17, 2010 at 6:48 pm
This is very well-written, and you make some great points; however, I would say that public speaking is not necessarily the most important thing to learn- it is good to have confidence, but also the logic one gains from math, as well as an understanding of humanity that can only be gained from english class.
SarahVanS This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 2, 2010 at 8:59 pm
SarahVS This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 25, 2010 at 1:36 pm
Yay skills that really matter!!!
SarahVS This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 22, 2010 at 4:36 pm
Ha. I'm actually going to be giving a presentation that deals with communication and public speaking. Should be rather easy seeing as I know how!
naturelover123 said...
Mar. 20, 2010 at 8:48 pm
So true. Most of school is just sitting and listening to the teacher. And then when a presentation does come up, we shake and shiver in class, and our teachers wonder why...maybe because we aren't getting enough practice?!
SarahVS This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Mar. 21, 2010 at 11:16 am
Definitely. Teachers never allow kids to practice speaking -- it's always kind of assumed that it's an already learned skill, which is a problem. High school (and even middle school!) teachers need to teach students how to properly give not only a presentation, but a speech in front of a group of people.
SarahVS This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 18, 2010 at 5:52 pm
Public speaking FTW!! =D
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