I just finished the book Quiet, The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain. It is a book that I would highly recommend to others. Here is my review from Goodreads.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I first learned about this book when I saw Susan Cain on a TED Talk. It got my attention, because like at least a third of the population, I am an introvert. I was eager to learn more about what she had to say. This is a really excellent book. It is well researched, and for me there were many times when I thought, "So that's why I feel like that when I'm in that situation."
She does a good job explaining the cultural attitudes regarding introverts and extroverts, as well as helping people to understand why others react the way they do. I thought it was very interesting to learn how western culture has transformed into a culture of personality, from Dale Carnegie on. Understanding the differences in the way introverts and extroverts function and think has implications for all of us, but particularly for me as an educator.
Jill Burruss and Lisa Kaenzig from the College of William and Mary state, "The truth is that many schools are designed for extroverts. Introverts need different kinds of instruction from extroverts. And too often, very little is made available to that learner except constant advice on becoming more social and gregarious."
As I set up my classroom and get to know my students this fall, I am going to keep the research cited by Cain in mind. One study showed that "College students who tend to study alone learn more over time than those who work in groups. . ." We do a lot of partner and group work in my classroom. I plan to offer more options for those who prefer to work independently. There will be two other teachers working in my classroom during parts of the day. As we collaborate to set up the room, I will make them aware that,
"Indeed, excessive stimulation seems to impede learning: a recent study found that people learn better after a quiet stroll through the woods than after a noisy walk down a city street."
Introverts and extroverts respond differently to rewards as well. Extroverts are more likely to seek reward, whereas introverts may be more interested in pursuing a personal goal or studying a subject because it is of particular interest to them. Cain refers to this as reward-sensitivity.
I liked the fact that Ms. Cain did not write this book to tell the introvert how to change, but rather how to be one's true self and cope more effectively in today's world. She states, "Understanding where we fall on the reward-sensitivity spectrum gives us the power to live our lives well."
I particularly like this quote from Susan Cain,
"If you're a teacher, enjoy your gregarious and participatory students. But don't forget to cultivate the shy, the gentle, the autonomous, the ones with single-minded enthusiasms for chemistry sets or parrot taxonomy or nineteenth-century art. They are the artists, engineers, and thinkers of tomorrow."
I highly recommend this book. Whether you are an introvert, or you know one, you will come away understanding yourself and others better.
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Check out Susan Cain's TED Talk here.