Sunday, March 11, 2007

Classroom Anxiety

So, it seems that each time I attend one of the Non-Profit Management courses at Duke, the instructor has undoubtedly heard of my non-profit and uses it OVER AND OVER for examples of the point that he is trying to prove. And the instructors always namedrop... "Oh, how is XXXX doing? I remember working with XXXX on a presentation at the Durham Chamber of Commerce." I don't care. No one else in the class cares. Ask me about this at lunch, not in front of everyone. Just shut up and get on with it already!

At separate sessions, two different instructors jokingly said to me in front of the entire class, "Well, I don't know why YOU are in this class, Charlotte. You are a Controller and you probably already know all this stuff." Now, a part of me takes this as slightly insulting. If I did know all about strategies for developing social enterprises or non-profit cost allocation, then I WOULDN'T HAVE SIGNED UP FOR YOUR FREAKIN' CLASS!

And since the instructors seem to know all about my work and they think that I already know everything that they are going to teach, they CALL ON ME TO ANSWER every single question. Now, this would be fine for someone who doesn't suffer from a slight case of social anxiety, but not me. This past Friday, I finally clammed up and couldn't get anything else out. Even when the rest of the class was floundering and couldn't find answers, I just kept my mouth shut. But he kept calling on me. When he would call on me to answer questions, I would just say "I don't know" even if I did know the answer. He wouldn't let up.

This class brought back memories of high school, when I put in an amazing amount of effort to NEVER be called on in class. I would talk with my teachers at the beginning of the school year and beg them to never call on me... I would do extra credit work or whatever. I just didn't want to have to speak in front of the class... it petrified me. The main reason for this was to hide my stutter. I still stutter, but it is not as severe as it was in middle school and high school. But even as an adult, I am still teased!!! But at least now, I have the courage to tell people that mocking me is offensive. And that my stutter is not "cute."

My next Non-Profit Management class is on Wednesday. The topic is Project Management. I hope this instructor doesn't know who I am or who I work for. I just want to blend in.


Christa said...

oh good LORD! that's horrible! can you just not tell them who your employer is in your next class? does it really matter? maybe you can just say you're thinking of starting your own non-profit and are taking the class to learn more?


Charlotte said...

No luck with that. When I signed up for this program, I had to put all my work information on the form. And the instructors get all that information prior to class. So, I am stuck.