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08 February 2013 @ 04:02 pm
Introvert, extrovert, ambivert?  
So, the Twitterverse lit up this morning when @lizb posted a link to this article: http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/02/introverted-kids-need-to-learn-to-speak-up-at-school/272960/. Go on over and take a look-see and then come back here. I am not the first to respond to this with a blog post. Monica Edinger has a post here: http://medinger.wordpress.com/2013/02/08/in-the-classroom-an-introvert-teaching-every-sort-of-kid/. So did Kristin McIlhagga: http://childrenslitcrossroads.wordpress.com/2013/02/08/introverts-and-class-discussion/. Now it is my turn.

It may surprise some folks to know that I am not an extrovert. NW AM I exactly an introvert. I am what Daniel Pink now labels an ambivert. I am somewhere in between. Put me in front of a room of people who want to know about books and try to shut me up. It. Won't. Happen. But, put me at a party where I do not know anyone in the room, and you will find me in a corner (reading most likely).So, from the outset, I have a problem with the author of this piece (who admits to being an extrovert) assert that she will keep forcing the introverts to participate in class. Way to be empathetic (wait, you cannot be empathetic because you are not an introvert). However, to then top that all off with making this be for a grade and not particularly caring what parents (or kids) think about this. Well, this is just downright wrong. Now I know that class discussion is a good way to get to kids' responses to reading (though I do notice this author is the one asking all the questions in class discussion and that not all of them are what I would call open ended discussion questions), but can we not make it safer and easier for the introvert? Can they not participate in small groups (maybe with some other introverts?) or post responses to Twitter, Facebook, Edmodo and other social outlets. The author also equates being an introvert with having social anxiety. I do not think the two are identical. There are plenty of us introverts and ambiverts online and present.

And, of course, I am probably reading too much into the article, but here are a couple of things that gave me pause:

" As a teacher, it is my job to teach grammar, vocabulary, and literature, but I must also teach my students how to succeed in the world we live in -- a world where most people won't stop talking."

" A student who is unwilling to stand up for herself and tell me that she does not understand the difference between an adverb and a verb is also less likely to stand up for herself if she is being harassed or pressured in other areas of her life. "

If the author does indeed live in a world where people do not stop talking, that is a shame. I spent most of today in relative silence, reading a YA novel. Not even the TV was talking to me, and the phone remained silent as well. The idea that introverts cannot succeed in the world is just plain wrong. I think I have done just fine, thank you very much. So have the others who tweeted about being introverts as well (and some of the names might surprise you as well since they include presenters of inservice, authors, other teachers and librarians). Additionally, it seems to me that there is more concern about correct answers, correct grammatical usage and other elements of the English curriculum than on the literature. But far be it from me to suggest maybe this is part of the problem. Remember, I am an introvert.
Current Location: home, silent home
Current Mood: crankycranky
Ramona LoweDoclo11 on February 8th, 2013 10:13 pm (UTC)
Verts of all kinds
I followed this discussion on Twitter this morning as well and marveled at the serendipity of Pink's tweet. There was a lot to think about, and I agreed with much of it. Just one of those days when I love, love,love social media and how it prompts me to think.
Kristin McIlhaggakmcilhagga on February 8th, 2013 10:50 pm (UTC)
I love the idea of an ambivert! I have been feeling this way lately, particularly since working on my dissertation - something that I need to do as a writer, not a talker.

Come to think of it, this makes me wonder about how many authors out there often refer to the need for solitude and quiet in the creation of story and character.

I'm still thinking about this whole thing and how problematic it is that as the teacher controlling the grades, she does not see her own bias in the argument. Learning to speak up for yourself is one thing, but forcing young students into an inauthentic representation of their personality to get a grade is SO problematic. I'm guessing these are the students that come to college and NEVER talk because they were forced to.

Ok - done ranting again. So appreciate your thoughts and for sharing my post as well.