Why teachers shouldn’t call on students who aren’t raising their hands

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Roar nation

The journalism google meet

Taylor Frick

One of the most dreaded aspects of school is the random name call some teachers put students through. Whether it’s pulling sticks out of a bucket, a random computer generator, or just plain old fashioned calling on someone who doesn’t have their hand raised, it can put the student in an uncomfortable position. 

Confessions from a Chalkboard, stated, “They call on the students who aren’t raising their hands because they think that student might not be paying attention and they think shaming him/her will help them to focus. Or they know a student didn’t do the homework and by embarrassing them they will do their homework next time. If you’re one of these teachers, then you’re doing it wrong. You need to stop. Intentionally shaming or embarrassing a student in front of his peers should never be a teacher’s goal.”

The Daily Cougar agreed. “Being cold-called can add undue stress to a college experience…for many newcomers to the university experience, the huge lecture halls can be daunting enough without having a spotlight on them.” 

On the other hand, Washington.edu, actually pointed out the positive effects of cold-calling on students’ confidence and self-esteem. It stated, “from practicing public speaking and persuasive skills to making mental models transparent, help students connect the dots about the ways this learning method benefits them.” However, it also went on to say, “Provide an easy option for students to voluntarily remove (and also re-add) themselves to the list, such as emailing the professor.”

This is a topic the Blythewood student body cannot come to consensus on. Sanders Pitts, a sophomore at Bythewood said, “I think it’s good for teachers to randomly call on students. It keeps students engaged, and gives students the chance to show what they’ve learned to others.” 

On the contrary Caroline Martin, another sophomore at Bythewood, disagrees completely. She said, “I hate being called on in class. I can’t stand when a teacher says they’re going to call on a kid who normally doesn’t talk, because I’m usually that kid. It just makes me feel all anxious, especially if I feel like I’ll embarrass myself because I don’t know the answer.”

Martin continued, “Maybe instead of just calling on people, teachers could have us do activities that would include the whole class by default. That way, the teacher can make sure everyone is still engaged, but it wouldn’t be as uncomfortable.” 

Dr. Susan Gregory, former small business owner and a current instructor in the dental hygiene program at Florence-Darlington Tech, said, “I do feel like I hate to put someone on the spot like calling on someone does. If the student then acts anxious or nervous, I feel a lot of empathy for them, and want to help them more than someone who probably can’t relate.” Dr. Gregory, who has struggled with her own anxiety for years went on to say, “If a student is visibly nervous, I definitely avoid calling on them in class.”

Many students, such as myself, can actually come to hate a class solely because a teacher randomly calls on them. Even if nobody else in the class knew the answer, messing up in class can encourage peers to mock you or add to the embarrassment. Though I understand teachers want to make sure students are participating and learning, there are much less embarrassing ways to go about it. For example, if you aren’t sure a student is grasping the material, reach out to them, see why they don’t speak up in class. I know this can be difficult when a teacher has a lot of students, but if that’s the case, try and discreetly pull aside a student after class, and have a talk with them. More often than not, the student is just too embarrassed to talk, or ask questions. 

With all the technology in play today, there is a wide variety of ways to include every student without having to call them out in class. If you create a safe learning environment, where students feel they belong, you might find more and more of them opening up, to the point where you can ask a question, and almost everyone will raise their hand, even if they aren’t sure their answer is correct. Regardless, forcing a student to answer a question, when you don’t know them, or their learning style, can be a quick way to make your class their least favorite.