In October 2012, I posted Susan Cain’s TED talk and shared my thoughts on the importance of valuing introverted students in the classroom. I recently came across an RSA Short illustrating Cain’s novel, Quiet, and this prompted me to think further about the dynamics of introverted and extraverted people. Cain advocates for a society that recognizes the contributions of both groups and encourages an interdependent relationship between introverted and extroverted individuals, but I also believe in the importance of finding that interdependence within oneself, of finding a balance between inner reflection and building connections with others. At work, I tend to be extroverted, engaging in lively and productive discussions with my colleagues, but I also truly cherish the time when I can look back on our discussions and ponder the ideas tossed back and forth and my role as a participant or facilitator. It is through moments of contemplation that I become more aware of my areas for professional growth as a leader and educator and I see the larger connections and understand multiple perspectives. Education tends to be extroverted field; however, similar to Susan Cain, I believe a balance between introversion and extroversion is necessary for individuals to move forward.
RSA Shorts – The Power of Quiet
Some people come alive in social environments with high levels of peer interactions, whereas other people seek quiet alone time to re-energize, contemplate ideas and reflect. In society, we tend to propagate the idea that being gregarious is better, and an outgoing, extroverted personality gains more approval in schools, workplaces and general society. Introverts are seen as being defective or abnormal in some way, and they are encouraged to become more outgoing and social. In this TED talk, the speaker Susan Cain, shares her personal experiences with the societal bias against introverts and she provides an insightful discussion on how society loses out on the potential of introverts by expecting them to adhere to an extroverted sense of normalcy. As I was listening to her talk, I began to wonder how this bias applies to our classroom practices, our focus on collaborative work, and providing instruction that integrates all of Gardner’s multiple intelligences. If society values interpersonal intelligence more than intrapersonal, and as classroom teachers, we propagate this bias, perhaps we need to adjust our classroom practices to find a balance between collaborative and individual learning. All students are capable of developing their different intelligences, so as educators, we need to ensure that we are supporting learning and development in both intrapersonal and interpersonal intelligences. Students with interpersonal intelligences need to develop their abilities to engage in quiet introspection and reflection, while interpersonal students need support enhancing their comfort with social and group based activities. However, for both of these intelligences, students’ strengths should be valued and validated; they should be provided with opportunities to be successful and ‘shine’ by applying their own strengths to learning. In past teaching, I have had students who advocated for working on their own, instead of being part of a group. As their teacher, I was conflicted between allowing them to working individually because I was aware of their intrapersonal strengths, or telling them they must be part of the group because in education, we promote and value collaborative learning. Ultimately, I decided that there has to be a balance between all intelligences, and educators must be cognizant of both the societal biases and their own biases towards certain intelligences in order to provide students with the opportunities to develop in all areas.