Every semester, I have students who say basically nothing in class but write excellent papers. And I have students who talk all the time to cover the fact that they haven’t actually done the reading. I’m grading partly for participation in class discussion–that you ask questions, make comments, and that your comments are informed by the readings.
I want the classroom space to be a playful space. I want us to be able to investigate ideas that we might not necessarily endorse in daily life. I would like it to be an environment of free speech and contestation, but within rules of civility and respect.
I will often argue positions I don’t personally agree with, for example: arguing and discussing is part of understanding why we believe what we believe. We might end up changing our minds or we might not. In my opinion, evil happens when people fail to try to think things through.
Class participation is important.
If you are a very shy person I will do what I can to make things more comfortable.