5/26/12

Introvert in the Classroom and Life

I love to read articles that encourage people to rethink assumptions they have about other people, children, students, each other, themselves.  I came across a great one this week, an Ed Week article by Sarah D Sparks, "Studies Illustrate Plight of Introvert".   (I have included a link on my "Parent/Teacher Read" page.)  Our world is so geared toward the loud, quick to speak, outgoing folks that we often forget the benefits of being quiet, alone, and thinking before we speak.  The article points out that teachers who are introverts are more likely to identify the quiet students as likely to have difficulty in school while acknowledging that is not necessarily due to lack of intelligence.  While outgoing teachers are more likely to assume that the quiet children are less intelligent or capable.

During my college experience, I took Latin American Civ with a proffessor who I consider to be one of the great ones.  The class was mainly discussion.  We needed to come to class prepared, books read,or movies watched, and ready to participate in discussion.  I loved the class, and I loved to listen to the ideas of others and I was always prepared, but the proffessor noticed that when he called on me to speak about something I stumbled to pull out an idea that made sense, sometimes I felt like a deer in the headlights.  On other occasions, I made important observations, gave thoughtful responses.  My written work was always well thought out.  So one afternoon, the proffessor asked me to stay after class.  He noticed that I seemed to freeze when put on the spot  and offered to refrain from "calling" on me in class, so long as I agreed to share my ideas when I was ready.  I remember feeling so great after this meeting.  I put extra effort in trying to find my way into the class conversation, relaxed by the knowledge that I wouldn't be put on the spot.  Wow!  When I reflect on this experience, I realize that teacher observed something in me that I had yet to quite understand myself.  I could never have thought to advocate for myself, because I had no idea that it was OK to be the way I was.  At twenty something years old, this was the first teacher who acknowledged my learning style and made it clear that my way  was OK

I really think this issue is an important one on it's own, and also hugely important in the bigger picture of life.  When a child is allowed to be who he or she is then won't the child will be more likely to grow into an adult path that allows for happiness and fullfillment?  Everywhere I look, books, magazines, talk shows and facebook pages, people everywhere are searching for who they really are.  People are searching for a path to their true purpose, their place.  They are ultimately looking for the true selves they were born as.  How wonderful would it be if we could begin to see each person for who he or she is and allow them to be?  Thoughtful teaching can encourage and inform children of different learning styles and challenges to advocate for themselves not only in the classroom, but also in life.  Isn't that really one of the most important lessons to learn?  There is a place for each and every one of us.

Ed Week:  Studies Illustrate Plight of Introvert, by Sarah Sparks.
The article speaks of  a book by Susan Cain.  Quiet:  The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking.   I plan to read this soon. 

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