With summer here, as well as a less hectic schedule, it is a great opportunity to catch up and revisit some of the great education-related books out there. My first read is a quick revisit of “Quiet” by Susan Cain, a must-read for any educator who has not yet had the chance to pick up this insightful look at introverts. There is so much for educators to consider regarding Cain’s work and how we create learning opportunities that really reach all learners.
A particular aspect of the book that struck me my second time through was a portion discussing the role that social media can play in giving introverts a voice in discussions. With so many schools, classrooms, and educators still dealing with discomfort at the thought of providing and encouraging students to utilize online tools to share their thoughts, I have concerns that we are missing a critical opportunity to engage some of our students in meaningful discourse and connections.
Cain says the following on this topic in the second chapter of her book:
“The same person who would never raise his hand in a lecture hall of two hundred people might blog to two thousand, or two million, without thinking twice. The same person who finds it difficult to introduce himself to strangers might establish a presence online and then extend these relationships to the real world.”
I know many educators who can identify with this and we owe it to our students to ensure the same opportunity. This does not mean that every student needs to have online interaction for every discussion, but it does mean that we need to provide chances for every student to have experiences with online conversations at some point. Heck, by the time our students hit middle school they are most likely already engaged in some type of online social media interaction. My feeling is that we have to engage the adult learners in our schools in utilizing these resources in order to allow every student access.
As Cain states, “Social media has made new forms of leadership possible for scores of people…”
Hopefully, we can count all of the students in our schools among these scores of people!
Susan Cain launched a website this week to support her ongoing efforts to support the “Quiet Revolution” she started with her book Quiet. In case you are unfamiliar with her work, Cain has done some groundbreaking work to change the perception that individuals are either introverts or extroverts. The reality, as Cain details, is that it is much more complicated than that.
In addition, for those of us who work in schools, Cain’s work is important in helping us find ways to support students who may be more reserved. The website has a section dedicated to supporting kids
and some great reading material for teachers and parents including the following:
There are also sections to support adults and in the workplac
e and in their personal lives
So, I encourage you to check out this new website and add the book (Quiet) to your summer reading list. At the very least check out Cain’s TED Talk, The Power of Introverts, below!
As I think about a couple of the teenagers in my life and the typical struggles that they face regarding who they are and what makes them so special, I wonder how much they struggle with the public perception that people who are quiet and/or sometimes detached are somehow inferior. Do they know it is okay (and normal) to withdraw sometimes? Do they feel it would be some type of social stigma if they or someone else classified them as introverts?
Today, I was fortunate to talk to a proud introvert about this topic and when she told me that Susan Cain’s book (Quiet
) changed her life. She told me that prior to reading Cain’s book, she always had a feeling that there was something wrong with her. Our conversation then took a turn towards the classroom and the fact that there is such a big push for collaborative/cooperative learning in many classrooms and that this type of learning can be torture for introverts.
The reality here is that I could write endlessly and never articulate the issues as concretely and articulately as Cain does. If this is something that interests you, please check out the manifesto above and the video below (which has over two million views). If you feel like it, share something that strikes you from your own personal experience in the comment section below.
For example, number seven on the manifesto (“It’s OK to cross the street to avoid making small talk”) hits home for me on a couple of levels. First of all, I have been guilty of this behavior at various times. Secondly, I have been with people who have been offended when others have avoided them or walked by with their heads down in a crowd even though it was obvious that they were avoiding them. In this case, many people jump to the conclusion that the offending party is a snob or has a problem with them. While that could be the case, I would contend that it is much more likely that the other person is simply an introvert…