Teacher Says Student Told Him She Would Rather Receive A Zero On Her Final Assignment Than Give A Presentation

“It's not the end of the world.”

high school student gives presentation to class Inside Creative House / Shutterstock

As many teachers have demonstrated online, younger generations seem to be straying further and further away from their studies, and it's becoming increasingly difficult for educators to instill the significance of hard work.

One teacher decided to assign his senior students an end-of-year research presentation in place of a final test — something students would have been thrilled about years ago. However, after witnessing some of his students’ dramatic aversion to presenting, he is considering making changes to his course for the following year.


The teacher concluded that as times change — and younger generations become more difficult to teach — he will need to adjust his teaching style.

In his since-deleted post on Reddit, the teacher said that from the beginning of the school year, he was upfront about their final research presentation, which took the place of a final exam and would account for 10% of their overall grade. It’s also in his syllabus before students even register for classes.

“This year has been so sad dealing with students who don't know how to: use databases, create a decent PowerPoint that isn't either three words or a wall of text on every slide,” he wrote. “And [they] have never been asked to stand in front of a class and present alone. The presenting part has been especially troublesome.”


high school teen feels anxious to present to class Ground Picture / Shutterstock

The teacher even allowed one of his students to present to him one-on-one after she tried to get her parents to pull her out of his class, which he had no knowledge of until the administration let him know — all because she was too nervous to present.

“This is a class geared towards future teachers — that's why I feel strong about making them present now before they potentially flush money down the drain when they realize they are too anxious to present halfway through an education degree,” he explained.


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A student told the teacher she would rather receive a zero on her final than have to present it to their class.

He was particularly taken aback when the student, who had a 95% in his class, completed the assignment's prep work thoroughly and efficiently but refused to present.

The student tried to get out of presenting by leaving during her final period and agreeing to bump her grade down significantly.

“[She] told me she'll just take a zero on the project because she had to leave early for a dentist appointment — even though she had plenty of time to present,” the teacher said.


“The actual speaking portion is actually only 25% of the total project grade (although she didn't understand this), and she turned in high-quality work otherwise,” the teacher added. “So she didn't get a full zero and finished with an A-.”

high school students work on group project in class Ground Picture / Shutterstock

The teacher explained that his class is a social elective class where students spend the year working on assignments, presentations, and discussions in groups, allowing them to get comfortable with their peers. They also spend the school year gradually working on the final project and preparing to present. Despite this, many still can’t shake the debilitating anxiety they feel at the prospect of presenting a project independently to their class.


“I must be a boomer at the ripe age of 32, though, because going from a 95 to an 85 over 10 minutes of my life is unimaginable to me — but many seem to think they'd do the same thing as this student since it's only a B,” he added.

The teacher empathized with the fear and anxiety surrounding school presentations but expressed concerns for younger generations’ futures.

“Obviously, everyone remembers being embarrassed having to present in school,” the teacher related. “But I can't imagine just giving up 10% of my grade … instead of doing [the presentation]. And I even had a teacher who rang a little bike bell every time you paused or ‘ummed’ and ‘anded.’”

Teachers were a lot more firm and stern regarding public speaking assignments back in the day. If anything, their methods may have been a bit too harsh, but the experience has always been known to thicken students’ skin and teach them confidence and charisma.

“I have been teaching this class for 8 years now,” the teacher said. “It wasn't until the last year or two [that] I noticed public speaking went from anxiety-inducing to life-or-death for some students.”


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Despite the teacher’s attempts to desensitize his students to the irrational fears of public speaking, which can help them grow significantly in their future professions, his current students and their parents alike are enabling their fears rather than facing them.

“You suck it up, do it, and learn that it's not the end of the world and move on with your life,” the teacher declared.


As teachers and their teaching styles continue to lose influence among their students, many educators are losing hope and, as a result, choosing to conform to their students’ weaknesses rather than teaching them to overcome them.

“I'm genuinely considering getting rid of the entire thing next year and just giving a test because it's driving me nuts,” he expressed. “It seems [to] be getting worse every year!”

Reddit users were divided between believing students have the right to opt out of a presentation and arguing that school presentations offer a valuable learning experience.

Presenting an assignment can certainly feel daunting, but at the end of the day, once it’s done, individuals can feel proud and confident in themselves and their abilities, which they can take into adulthood. 

On the other hand, some Reddit users argued that a student's refusal to stress themselves out over a final presentation is a valid reason to opt-out, especially if it doesn’t majorly impact their grades.


“Part of it is the current culture around work. Going above and beyond doesn't get you ahead anymore and people would rather do just enough and be less stressed overall, and these kids are seeing that,” one Redditor suggested. “Realistically, unless these kids are going to top schools, dropping to a B isn't going to affect them whatsoever.”

Others, however, argued that students need to learn how to overcome their public speaking anxiety, or it will only hold them back.

@alexschudy 4 mental realizations that helped me with my public speaking skills—from someone who presented to C level execs as a new grad🫣 #careertok #techtok #presentation #presentationtips #publicspeaking #publicspeakingtips #confidence #confidencetips ♬ original sound - Alex | Career Queen

“I had several students do this over the years,” another teacher shared. “They're of the opinion that 10% isn't enough of a penalty on their grade to be bothered with all the effort and potential embarrassment (their words) of doing a presentation. They aren't completely wrong, I guess, but this generation really does need to have better coping skills to deal with anxiety over presentations.”


“I hated doing presentations in class, but as a college student now, presentations and speaking in front of others has gotten a lot easier because of the presentations I forced myself to do in school,” another user admitted. “In fact, since OP said they do group projects throughout the year, I would recommend making a few of those into group presentations instead. Make them fun, if possible, so that they can get a bit loose in front of the class, and hopefully that’ll lessen the amount of anxiety when it comes to solo presentations!”

As someone with an intense fear of presenting, I can relate to the prevalence of public-speaking anxiety. Despite my stage fright, I haven’t let it dictate my life, and I have pushed myself out of my comfort zone, no matter how scary it felt. Were there plenty of embarrassing moments? Absolutely, and they still sometimes haunt me to this day.

But that embarrassment eventually evolved into a more self-assured confidence. No one can escape public speaking forever, and by pushing yourself to face these uncomfortable challenges, you’ll grow into a much stronger version of yourself.  

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​​Francesca Duarte is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team based in Orlando, FL. She covers lifestyle, human-interest, adventure, and spirituality topics.