Susan Cain gave a TED Talk called The Power of Introverts.
Introverts are told they should work hard to be outgoing. Quiet and introverted is not going to work in this world, so try to pass as an extrovert. Be someone you are not.
Here is the truth: introverts are smart, creative, deep thinkers that develop unique answers to problems that others involved in groupthink may not be able to produce. According to Cain, introverts are not shy, they are just people who are more capable when in a quiet or low-key environment.
One-third to half of the population are introverts. This has educational implications that I need to remember as I work with students.
School is for extroverts
Photo CC- by City Year
What do you notice about the desks? They are for groups of students. How about reading? We do this in groups. Writing? Groups. Science? Math? Yep, it’s groups.
There is very little quiet time in school anymore, and the majority of classrooms and activities are centered around groups of students.
School is for extroverts. Please do not misunderstand, I recognize that learning to work together is a valuable exercise. We all need to pool our ideas at times to produce products. Learning alongside peers is a great way to make discoveries. Extroverts thrive in this type of environment because they are energized by people, noise, and activity.
The negative side to the extrovert-oriented classroom is that introverts tend to be isolated. They feel excluded in an environment where they should be involved. They are seen by others as loners, awkward, or shy.
We need to have balance in our classrooms. We need to meet the learning needs of extroverts and introverts. We should have collaboration, and times of individual work and thought.
Cain has four solutions (in bold). I just can’t say them any better than she can.
Stop the madness for constant group work. Just stop it!
We need to promote deep thinking in our schools. Deep thinking comes from being alone and working through ideas and concepts. Have a balance between learning that requires group work and learning that promotes thought and the building of ideas.
Go to the Wilderness
This means spend time alone at some point during the day. Learn who you are when no one else is around.
Take a look in your own suitcase (what do you bring?)
Extroverts put themselves out there. They are not afraid to show their thoughts, talents, and abilities. Introverts, though, are often guarded. Introverts need to be able to show others what is in their suitcase. They need to allow others to see their worth. As a teacher, I need to give introverted students a chance to shine in their own way.
Have the courage to speak softly
I want to give the introverts in my class an opportunity to speak what is on their mind. Even if it is a soft, quiet manner.
As an introvert, I enjoyed this TED Talk. As an introvert learning how to lead a classroom, I appreciate all the things it has made me think about.