The Public Speaking credit; should be an option, not a requirement


Written by: Alyssa Tyler, Reporter

When the class of 2020 walked in as freshmen, they were given a new requirement to graduate; every student must have half a credit of public speaking. High school is a time where young adults begin to find who they are and where they fit in with society. There seems to be judgment coming from teachers, coaches, and peers; forcing students to talk in front of those said people, would only help increase the fear of public speaking in students. Students who have anxiety will most likely not go into fields where they are required to speak in front of large crowds. Public speaking classes should be an option for students who want to improve their social speaking skills, not a requirement to graduate.

Anxiety diagnoses from ages 6-17 have risen by 20% from 2007-2012. Many classes have some sort of public speaking project throughout the year, and still, anxiety rates have continued to rise.

There are multiple factors on why anxiety rates have risen. According to Stutter Health,  a survey of 124 teenagers was taken to see what was the main stressors of their lives. School was said 138 times and 55% of the teenagers surveyed said that school was the main stressor for themselves.

Vicky Herbster said, “We felt like kids were lacking in some of the soft skills, like [talking] to an employer, or in communication with teachers. A lot of our kids have anxiety about speaking in front of people. So one of the reasons that we encouraged this class is so kids can get over this anxiety in a safe place, and so that they could get over their concerns about public speaking.”

Drama, forensics, debate and speech are the classes offered to get the public speaking credit, and they are all offered a semester at a time.

Overall, the idea of public speaking terrifies many people. High school is a set few years where people begin to find out who they are as a person. Judgment seems to come from every person in the school, teachers, coaches, and fellow classmates. Forcing students to talk in front of their peers, trying to prepare them for a job requirement they might not even have, leads to a student having more self-doubt and overall higher anxiety. Public speaking should not be a required credit to graduate. Those who have anxiety will most likely not go into a field where they have to talk in large crowds of people. Public speaking should be used as an option for students who want to improve their public speaking, not a requirement for graduation.