I was talking to one of my classmates on Thursday about participating in class. She is also a mature student. She is a single mom with two children, and like me, she is at school full time at Glendon College. She commented that she is very intimidated to participate in class – not because she doesn’t have anything to contribute to the discussion – but rather, she is intimidated by the other students who are seemingly more intelligent, sharper, more aware of world politics.
I know how she feels. I’m very often intimidated to participate in class. This fear grips me and I begin to feel small, and then, I almost wish no one will notice me. It’s horrible feeling like this. My husband often reminds
me that I’m at University to learn, to open my mind to new ways of thinking. It’s ok if I don’t know everything right now, the important thing is that I want to learn, and that I will put in the effort and do the work to learn.
Part of that learning, is participating.
I discovered that (often) when I have a question, many of my classmates also have the same question. And by asking, I spark a broader discussion. This being said, I do still suffer from “participation anxiety”, and one way I deal with this is by going to see my professors during their office hours. This way, I can ask the questions I have without the fear of judgement from my peers.
I found this Chinese proverb on the internet: “He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever”. It’s a tad dramatic, but the essence of the proverb is: Raise your hand if you have a question!