It is better to raise your hand and give the wrong answer than to not raise your hand at all. That’s the most important thing I have learned over the past few months.
School tends to make you think the opposite though, if you are wrong in school you are a terrible person, so maybe I’m talking to the wrong group. Maybe I can save some high school students before it’s too late:
Have you ever been in class, a lot times it happened in math, when the teacher asks a question and you figure it out in your head and know this answer and your hand shoots up, but she calls on the kid next to you and he gives an answer different than what you were thinking. Involuntarily you think, “Heh, dumbass.”
And then she says, “Right!”
Even though your self-esteem just dipped, that was actually a good thing. Worse than that is if you didn’t even know how to start coming up with the answer, or didn’t even try.
Every once in a while you get in a cool class that has the right mixture of students and classroom discussion is a cool thing in that class, but then it’s over and in the next class everybody just sits and stares at the teacher. Why is that?
A lot of times, the ones with good discussion are full of people who know each other and are willing to say something wrong. If you screw up in front of your friends, who cares? They’ll still talk to you in the hallway after class.
But say something stupid in a class full of people you don’t know and they’ll think you’re a dumbass forever.
It’s not true, but we tend to think like that.
You know that kid who answered a question wrong and now everybody bursts into laugher at the sight of him putting up his hand? Of course you don’t, because it doesn’t happen. (If you do laugh at a kid like that, you’re probably a douche.)
One day in tenth grade I realized that when we had to stand up and give a speech, 95% of the other people in that class just wanted class to be over so they could go home and forgot what you said five minutes after you say it. So why be afraid of talking to no one? My public speaking improved quite a bit just from that realization: What do I care if I say something dumb? nobody is paying attention anyway.
Ironically, when you have that mentality and you get in front of people that do care, your public speaking skills will be just as good.
So the next time you think you have an answer, or especially if you have a question, raise your hand. If somebody else in the class doesn’t forget it five minutes later either they’re a jerk (but it won’t kill them to sit there) or they’ll like you better for saying it.