Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Things I Learn from Teaching College - Washing Hands, Changing Diapers... Zombie Invasions

Last week were student speeches again. It's a new semester, so we start back over with the Demonstrative Speeches -- the first of three speeches my students give. 

The purpose of a demonstrative speech is, of course, to demonstrate how to do something -- in other words, to teach an audience something. If you Google "demonstrative speech" the top site is from California State University, Fresno -- a list of 200 possible topics.

Here's the first twenty on that list:
Clean your teeth. 
Coordinate clothes for any occasion.  
Sign for the deaf.
Apply decorative stencils.
Roll clothes to pack a suitcase.
Make stain-glass.
Read nutrition labels.
Defend yourself against an attacker.
Plan a home fire escape.
Stencil tile.
Set-up an e-mail account.
Change oil in your car.
Play the drums.
Change a baby's diaper.
Swing a golf club.
Putt a golf ball.
Pot flowers.
Prune roses.
Make a simple children's game.
Make peanut butter bars.

Most of those are pretty decent.  Of them all, the one I've heard most is "How to change a baby's diaper." In my career, believe it or not, that has been the second most popular speech topic -- I usually hear it 4-5 times a year.

The most popular speech topic is "How to wash your hands." Seriously. I get it 7-8 times a year; definitely have heard it over 50 times in my teaching career.  So if you hear me singing "Happy Birthday" twice while washing my hands - blame my students.

There were no hand washing nor diaper changing speeches last week. (By some odd stroke of luck, I'm only teaching one public speaking class this summer or else I'm sure these old favorites would've made an appearance). But I did have a "How to Prepare for a Zombie Invasion" speech.

This is actually the second zombie-preparedness speech I've had. Both have been pretty good and both of them have been from women in the 20s. For this one she talked about the types of zombies and gave a demonstration about how to protect yourself with a baseball bat from different types. Had a fellow student pretend to be different types of zombie and everything.

And because knowing is half the battle, for all you zombie movie lovers out there:

So next time I am tempted to think my job is not important, I will remember this speech. I will know I have gleaned valuable life skills -- skills that can make a difference -- especially if I have a baseball bat handy. Zombies everywhere beware.

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