That time when Raven actually said what most of us want to say to a teacher who picks you for the answer when you clearly don’t know it, for usually no other reason than to embarrass you and make you look stupid. One of the main things I hate and always will hate about school.
Let’s dig a little deeper, shall we? Calling on students who do not have their hands raised actually has a name: “cold calling”. It has been shown time and again to be an extremely effective teaching strategy, not only in terms of keeping students focused at all times, but also for making sure the teacher is aware 100% of the time about how many students are “getting it” and how many aren’t. Cold calling can be used to enforce to students who are daydreaming that they must be paying attention. It is used to enforce participation in students who know the answer but do not raise their hand. It can also be used to address misconceptions, aka wrong answers, that many other students may be having. This is an extremely important part of teaching! Often teachers want a wrong answer so that they can build off it.
If you get the right answer, you show me that you get it, which I may not have known before.
If you get the wrong answer, now I can work to make you understand why it’s wrong.
If you’re embarrassed because you got the answer wrong, maybe YOU WEREN’T PAYING ATTENTION. Or maybe you were. In that case, your teacher/classroom has issues already— cold calling itself isn’t the problem. CC’ing only works if a teacher is very clear about their intentions, and has cultivated a classroom environment in which wrong answers are okay. Yet another example of some teachers giving a bad reputation to the rest of us, who have legitimate reasons for using these strategies and are not just “trying to make you look stupid”. (Note: savvy teachers will determine very early on if a student has a genuine anxiety about answering, and WILL NOT COLD CALL THAT STUDENT.)
If your teacher cold calls, and you don’t like it, one of two things may be happening. One, you’re not focused in class. That is, whether you like it or not, 99% on you. Two, your teacher isn’t doing it right. That is on your teacher and is unfortunate; if you feel comfortable doing so, you may want to point out to your teacher that they have created an atmosphere wherein students are afraid to be wrong— and students should not be afraid to be wrong.
I cold call starting in October, after a discussion with my students about what it is and why I’m doing it. My class participation and grades generally both improve after I begin. I have only had one student ever tell me that it truly bothered them, and I stopped cold calling that student and assessed their understanding in other ways instead.
Moral of the story: good teachers are never trying to make you look stupid. You may not love all of the methods we employ, but we have very valid reasons for using them.