Last weekend my tween struggled with the assignment of memorizing a long declamation piece that was in Filipino. The entire class was expected to memorize the piece because they will each be asked to deliver it in class, for the teacher to see who gets to represent the class in an intersection declamation contest.

As I tried to ease my son's stress by helping him with technique, I remembered how, as grade 6 students a long time ago, my classmates and I were each asked to sing in class as our teacher searched for the best contestant in an inter-level singing contest.  While I did not have any qualms singing or speaking in public, I distinctly remember the discomfort of seeing others struggle with the task. I pondered just how practical and productive these auditions are.

No matter how the students try their darnedest, and even if half the class memorizes the poem and a third delivers it superbly, only ONE gets the honor of competing on behalf of the class.  What then is the point of subjecting the entire class, 40 or so of them, to the struggle? Some, like my son, have trouble with Filipino. Some have terrible stage fright and do not like public speaking, much more singing. These students will each squirm uncomfortably on their seats as their turn draws near, subject themselves to at least a minute of sheer terror and/or embarrassment struggling with the declamation (or in our case, the singing), and then afterwards will just be cast as rejects of the imposed audition. 

The experience then makes them believe even more that they are poor public speakers or are terrible in Filipino.  They feel incompetent when in fact they could just be very good in other things (Mathematics, Science, drawing, writing).  In effect, instead of developing and honing and thereby, uplifting, the exercise does the opposite for a significant part of the class.

Lamentably, the audition does not even provide meaningful literary exposure.  The piece that was assigned is by an unknown author, is of sketchy, amateurish composition, and unremarkable argument.  I could not imagine how the teacher can sit through 20 or so repetitions of the piece (as she searches for the best declaimer), without falling asleep or losing interest in what is going on.  After all the effort they put in, the students could well be performing to a wall.  Tsk, tsk, tsk. 
Overall then, for me, the entire exercise is a total waste of time and effort. Isn't there a better way?

Perhaps the audition could have served a better purpose had it been offered as additional work, where only those really interested can volunteer to participate, who would be tasked to memorize and rehearse the piece, who will perform in class, and then get extra credit for their effort.   This way, parents are saved from stress, the disinterested/disinclined  students are saved from fright or embarrassment, their energies are saved for better-fitted pursuits, and the teacher saves time looking for her champion.  There. All happy.


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Why AnneThology?

Anthology means a collection of poems, short stories, plays, songs, or excerpts. My name is Anne, and this blog contains a collection of my thoughts, musings and writings (poems, short stories), some songs I like, plus a sprinkling of excerpts I find worth sharing --hence, AnneThology.

Did you know?

Anthology derives from the Greek word ἀνθολογία (anthologia; literally “flower-gathering”) for garland — or bouquet of flowers — which was the title of the earliest surviving anthology, assembled by Meleager of Gadara.

Look, what I have -- these are all for you.