Instead of delivering a formal speech for my approval, my students are off in groups, listening to each other. I should note that I don’t let all my students go off like all semester long. They’ve worked hard to get to the point where they know what they need to do, and they are ready to be critical and supportive peer audiences.
A healthy democracy is full of people who listen to and empathize with other, especially when they disagree. The alternative is reacting to the caricatures and stereotypes conjured up by our own isolated echo chambers.
On oral presentation workshop day, my students came to class in their blazers, sans hoodies or ball caps (though one wore jeans). They brought their trifold displays and visual aids, nervous and eager.
Instead of asking for the first victim, I told them I am not their audience, and I sent them forth in groups to practice for each other, and upload a video of their best performance.
We will reconvene in a half hour, and they will watch and critique their performance. This is not an oral communication class; the speech is a means to an end, an early deadline to get them to commit to an idea and test out their eviidence. They will present in a public venue next week, and submit a paper draft the week after.
While I was typing this, a blazer-clad student returned to the classroom to get something and said, “This is fun!”