Is training children in Public Speaking skills additional to the curriculum or is it a cross-curricular skill?…
While Public Speaking immediately conjures up obvious connections to Oral Language and Language learning in the Curriculum, training children in the skills of Public Speaking involves many other skills and crosses into many other curriculum areas too.
Giving children the chance to stand up and express themselves regularly in front of their peers in a safe, supportive environment helps to build self confidence. To know, but more importantly, to experience that what you have to say is important and heard, builds self esteem. In addition, listening to and constructively and positively evaluating their peers or fellow students as they do the same systematically develops and improves listening skills and the quality of empathy.
So, having the opportunity to speak on topics including: Me, My Family, My Friends feeds into SPHE.
Some of the skills and tools of Effective Communication and Public Speaking form part of the Drama Curriculum eg. Facial expressions, hand gestures, eye contact, pause, body language, vocal variety.
What better way for students to feed back their reflections on and interpretations of their own and others’ Art and Music at their own level than orally. Their choice, use and possibly, production of visual aids would also feed into Art appreciation.
And PE? What about Sports’ Speeches such as ‘A Winning Captain’s Speech’, the ‘Runner-Up Speech’, a ‘Pep Talk’? What are children learning by having the opportunity to listen to, plan and perform these?
Being empowered to speak about what they have learned, liked and understood in a History, Geography, Science and even Maths lesson deepens the learning and connects it to children’s own lives in a real and meaningful way. This is what we constantly strive to do as educators.
History itself is marked with countless examples of powerful orators who have made their mark on the world, for better or for worse with their Public Speaking skills.
Training children in the skill of Public Speaking does not need to be confined to a Literacy lesson. It can be easily integrated, in a real, relevant and meaningful way to all other curriculum areas.