Monday, May 14, 2012

Introverts in the Classroom

I recently watched a TED talk on introverts by Susan Cain.  It was fascinating.  I related to a lot of it.  In essence, Cain says that our society often looks down on introverts.  She recalls when she went to summer camp as a young girl, expecting it to be a time to escape into the imaginary worlds created by her books, while being surrounded by many other girls her age.  Obviously, she was sorely disappointed.  One girl asked her, "Why are you being so mellow?"  As if finding your energy by being alone--as opposed to being with others--was a flaw.

Cain encourages us to let introverts be introverts, because that's when they do their best work.  And for the most part, I agree with that.

In terms of education, Cain argues against continual group work and "pod" seating arrangements. In her closing, Susan Cain says, "Stop the madness for constant group work.  Just stop it."  And receives a flood applause for this statement.

I get a lot of what she's saying, I really do.  And I don't think she's saying, "Stop all group work," because she concedes that most great works require collaboration of some kind.  But, as a teacher, (and may I add, as an introverted teacher) something didn't settle quite right with me.  Maybe it's just hard for me to take advice from people who (I assume) have never taught in the classroom setting. 

So, I'd love to hear thoughts on the following video.  As I said, I think it's excellent.  I'm just trying to digest what it means for me as an educator.


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