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What Do Teachers Really Think of Quiet Students?

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intelligent child What Do Teachers Really Think of Quiet Students?Did you catch the recent news story about Natalie Munro, the high school English teacher from Pennsylvania who blogged her true feelings about her students? Apparently failing to comprehend the public nature of the Internet, she mused about the nasty things she wished she could write on her students’ report cards.

It was an abuse of trust,  and a dunderheaded use of the blogging medium. But that’s not what I want to focus on;  others have already covered that very effectively.

I want to talk about Munro’s view of quiet and shy students. Here, according to her blog entry of January 21, 2010 (since removed) is what she wished she could put on their report cards:

“A kid that has no personality.”

“She just sits there emotionless for an entire 90 minutes, staring into the abyss, never volunteering to speak or do anything.”

“Shy isn’t cute in 11th grade; it’s annoying. Must learn to advocate for himself instead of having Mommy do it.”

Munro seemed to have no understanding of how poor a fit the typical American high school can be for introverts — like an all-day cocktail party without any alcohol. She believed that these kids should suck it up and act like everyone else. And she was right, to a certain extent; we all need to fake it a little, extroverts too. I’ve met many introverted kids who are thriving and happy, and most of them have learned how to adopt an extroverted persona when need be.

But consider this question: Why do so many high-functioning people look back at high school as the worst time of their lives — and why do we accept this as normal?

As adults, we (hopefully) get to choose the careers, spouses, and social circles that suit us. Bill Gates and Bill Clinton thrive in very different work environments. But for schoolchildren, it’s one size fits all — and the size on offer is usually extra-extroverted.

One saving grace are the teachers who understand this, the teachers who connect with the kid in the back row thinking amazing thoughts that he’s uncomfortable sharing aloud with  25 classmates. I’ve spent a lot of time touring schools and observing classrooms, and I’ve met some great and sensitive teachers along the way. If you read through Munro’s blog, she’s clearly a Piece of Work — not representative of your typical teacher.

I also know how hard it is for teachers when students are reluctant to participate in class. Once I taught two back-to-back negotiation seminars — a Wednesday night class and a Thursday night class. The Wednesday night class discussions were always lively and animated. But in the Thursday night class, the participants stared at me as if I had two heads, and wanted me to do all the talking. This made my job so much harder and — on a day-to-day basis -  less fulfilling. Some of those students wrote me letters when the class was all done, expressing how deeply they’d enjoyed it. I was surprised each and every time; I’d assumed they hadn’t liked the class at all. So I have tremendous respect for teachers who work gracefully with their “Thursday night” students.

But I’m afraid that they are the exceptions; research suggests that the majority of our teachers believe that the “ideal student” is an extrovert. Which is extraordinary, when you consider how many of our greatest thinkers were introverts. Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, George Orwell, Steven Spielberg, Larry Page, J.K. Rowling: none of them would have made “ideal students.”

If I had one wish, it would be to reverse the stigma against introversion for children, so that the next generation won’t grow up with the secret self-loathing that plagues so many introverted grown-ups today.

I’ll be posting a lot about introverted kids, helping parents and teachers to cultivate their tremendous potential.

In the meantime: What do you think? What experiences did you or your kids have at school?

*Big thanks to my good friend, Jeff Kaplan, for alerting me to the Natalie Munro brouhaha!

 


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196 Comments »

Related posts:

  1. What Do Teachers Really Think Of Quiet Kids?
  2. Students Speak Up In Class, Silently, Using the Tools of Social Media
  3. Watch this Teacher Engage Shy Students Via Twitter
  4. Question of the Week: Should Teachers Base Grades on Classroom Participation?

196 Comments

  1. Emmanuel on 25.06.2011 at 21:22 (Reply)

    If it wasn’t for specific teachers I had in high school, I am definitely sure I would not have graduated. I was a slacker, but I was smart and polite enough for these teachers to be generally accepted and/or given help by them. Their support helped me hold it together during those four years, which honestly was a time where I was overall a messed up person. Honestly, I’d have to say it was more of my family as a whole than my school I had trouble with.

  2. Laura on 26.06.2011 at 06:49 (Reply)

    I’m so glad I discovered your blog. I was miserable in high school: painfully shy and introverted. The few teachers who understood students like me, and helped us bear the days spent at school, were maybe introverts themselves. No longer shy, but still very introverted, I’m just beginning to accept that there’s nothing wrong with me. I’m not anti-social and I’m not sick.

  3. Jay on 26.06.2011 at 08:20 (Reply)

    Good morning,

    I have been enjoying reading your blog this morning after “discovering” it via your article in the NY Times. So much of it and your blog posts rings true. You are right that society “needs both kinds” - introverts and extroverts to function. One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that if one finds himself in a group of all one kind (e.g. I used to be active in chess tournaments and competition - a stereotypically introverted activity) that group seems to be forced into establishing its own pecking order with the least introverted assuming the role of extroverts. As a self-described “high-functioning nerd” I found myself often being forced to be a “leader” in those groups.

    I also love the Mark Vonnegut quotation from your earlier post. My city, Indianapolis, has recently opened a Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library and as a result I’ve learned more about the author and his family. I have downloaded the Mark Vonnegut book but haven’t gotten to it yet. Maybe soon…

    I look forward to your book.

    -Jay

  4. Dork on 26.06.2011 at 17:02 (Reply)

    In elementary school, being nice and quiet and getting good grades were enough for teachers. But, junior high is when “participation grades” started and then were a requirement in just about every high school class. Ugh! It was very obvious that the teachers preferred the extroverted students, even if they weren’t the ones getting the best grades. I remember that I was really nervous giving a presentation freshmen year of high school and I know it showed. On the grading/comment sheet, my teacher told me it would be a good idea to “brush up on my social skills.” I even had teachers tease me because they knew I wouldn’t say anything and it would earn them points with the cool kids. I could go on…

    I hope more people-especially teachers and parents-realize that being an introvert is not a bad thing and something that should be nurtured.

    1. Susan Cain on 27.06.2011 at 22:00 (Reply)

      such an interesting observation about pecking orders re-establishing themselves in all-introvert milieus!

  5. Scott on 26.06.2011 at 19:32 (Reply)

    I suppose one explanation is that teachers are a self-sorted group of extroverts. If one’s career goals were to improve the lives of children and/or educate people, there are many other avenues one could choose if one were introverted: research, non-profit advocacy, social work, etc. But teachers choose the avenue that involves constant interaction and public speaking on a daily basis — something introverts would only do if it were the only way to achieve one’s specific goals.

    My mother is a teacher and an introvert, and from the stories she has told me, you would be surprised at the way many teachers form into cliques and discuss students and each other…

    1. Susan Cain on 27.06.2011 at 22:01 (Reply)

      that is a good insight about teachers tending to be extroverts, and i believe borne out by research.

      1. Kate on 27.07.2011 at 10:31 (Reply)

        Don’t rule out that some teachers play the part of an extrovert during the school day although they are natural introverts. I had to develop a professional personality in my first years of teaching in order to be successful, but most of my friends and family wouldn’t recognize me when I’m teaching!

    2. Andrew on 16.03.2012 at 12:33 (Reply)

      I am a former teacher and an introvert. I was surrounded by co-workers and an administration that were all extroverts and did not understand me or my teaching methods (Which are very good, by the way) at all. They expected me to, through the force of my own will and personality, keep all my students as quiet as church mice. Unfortunately, since I was teaching ninth graders, this was an impossible task for an introverted person. The administration chose not to renew my contract because my classes were “too noisy.” They chose to wait to tell me my contract would not be renewed until after all the other school systems in the area had issued their contracts, so there was no way I could get another teaching position for the following year.

      Perhaps if I had gone into elementary education, I might have had a different outcome, but it is what it is. I think the teaching profession is by default a group of self-selected extroverts because the majority of teaching these days is more about crowd control than it is about teaching, and extroverts are much better at crowd control than introverts are. At least much better at it than this introvert.

      1. laurie on 07.04.2012 at 06:10 (Reply)

        I am in 100% compliance with Andrew’s notes above where his contract was not renewed because of his “too noisy” classes. I, too, am an ex teacher but I taught elementary school. My contract wasn’t renewed either for what I conclude was my non-extroverted ways as well although specific reasons were not given. The social dynamic in the elementary school is the same whereas there is an abundance of gossip among the extroverts about subjects that should not be openly discussed. I am not returning to the classroom, not because I don’t love teaching, it is a passion for me, but I am not thick-skinned enough to deal with the extroverted and sometimes cruel environment. My focus is now raising my own (introverted and shy) child and seriously consider the homeschooling route. I am a grown adult who still is quite shy and very introverted. I have learned to overcome some of these characteristics but in the extroverted society I will spend there rest of my life “trying to find my niche to fit in”.

  6. Bruce Holbert on 26.06.2011 at 23:23 (Reply)

    A former student of mine sent me the link to this post. It is vital stuff every kid and parent and teacher needs to know. Sometimes even the loudest kids are shy about academics; that’s why they’re so noisy on other fronts. Many are just quiet, however. They are observers and listeners; most teachers could stand to do more of both, and that’s coming from someone who has been on the job twenty five years. What I have discovered is that even the shyest kids you can find ways to, if your goal is not to change them, but connect with them. I had a student this year who never spoke to anyone, student or teacher, but I saw her drinking a Pepsi one day and I started bringing a a bottle to class for her a couple of times a week. I’d give it to her at the end of class when she wouldn’t be embarrassed and pretty soon she started eating lunch in my room and bringing her friends. It’s as simple as that. Observe and look for a chance to connect. Teacher is a verb, not a noun. Thank you for this and I look forward to your upcoming book.

  7. Nina on 27.06.2011 at 08:02 (Reply)

    Hi! I’m so glad I discovered your blog via the NY Times! I’m an introvert and an English teacher. As a teacher, I award “class participation” points for being attentive and showing up on time-not for participating in class discussion. I never uttered a word in any of my classes as a high school and college student. It wasn’t because I wasn’t listening or interested; I was just introverted, and found that, if I started talking, I would get almost disoriented and lose my train of thought. Better to just remain quiet.

    Also, as a teacher, if I want to have a class discussion (which is often), I’ll generally ask a “leading question” and have students free-write for 5 or 10 minutes prior to the discussion. That way, the introverts will have their “lines” in front of them when it comes time to discuss the topic. So often, the introverts are the deeper thinkers, and are better able to express themselves through writing. This exercise gives them a less-stressful way to contribute.

    BTW, I love your analogy of high school to a cocktail party with no alcohol. So true!

    1. Susan Cain on 27.06.2011 at 22:03 (Reply)

      Your free-writing idea is fantastic! Must pass this on to other teachers. Thank you!

  8. The Silent Type | Write-Brained on 27.06.2011 at 12:22

    [...] [...]

  9. Trish on 28.06.2011 at 20:38 (Reply)

    I also came here via the NYTimes piece.

    One of my children takes after me, which is to say: introverted and shy. Just from reading here for a few minutes I have already learned techniques that I can suggest to her teachers in the fall. After a year with a homeroom teacher who had no respect for her personality, and was completely shameless about it, my child really needs the next school year to make up for the psychological pain of this last one.

    Thank you.

  10. Kathi G on 30.06.2011 at 07:01 (Reply)

    I came here by way of the Psychology Today Facebook page. I have been reading your articles for a while, but this one really struck me.

    I agree with the person who said elementary school being nice and quiet and getting good grades was looked upon with favor. That was my experience as well. 1st through 5th grade - all my teachers liked me and I liked school. Then I hit middle school (6th grade) and boy did things change. Three of my teachers took an instant dislike to me, apparently because I wasn’t “cute” or “popular” or a joiner. I was completely and utterly miserable. Thanks to my parents, I made it through that year, and the rest of my school career managed to find enough teachers who appreciated my unique strengths enough to make school bearable. Still, if homeschooling had been an option back then, I would have bee first on the bandwagon.

    I also appreciate the teachers who’ve responded here who take the time to appreciate those of us who are introverted and who realize that we do have something to offer, if you just give us the time to do so.

  11. Melanie on 01.07.2011 at 10:36 (Reply)

    This was such a fascinating read! I also found my way here via your article in the NY times - because one of my favorite musicians, Paula Cole, posted a link on Facebook, of all places!

    I feel very blessed when I read some of the horror stories people have described about making it through school as an introvert. I grew up in a smaller town on the shore of Lake Michigan in Wisconsin, and attended a parochial (Christian) school, both for grade school and high school (no middle school - grades K-8 in grade school). I definitely had teachers that were more understanding than others, but they were all caring & compassionate towards shy students. My classmates weren’t cruel either, for the vast majority of the time.

    In my entire educational experience, I’ve only had one instructor (a college professor), who awarded participation points based on verbal contributions to a class discussion - others have always awarded participation points based on your attentiveness & attendance (never a problem for me). I have always loved learning, and I think it showed - so I never had problems getting good grades. Throughout my school years, the only person who ever gave me grief over not being extroverted wasn’t a teacher or classmate, but my mother!

    I appreciate the teachers that I had growing up, and wish that everyone could be as lucky as I was!

  12. MJ on 01.07.2011 at 20:35 (Reply)

    What a great post! I am still laughing at the high school is “like an all-day cocktail party without any alcohol” line! It’s so true - a wonderfully insightful description.
    I read your NY Times article today and forwarded to some of my favorite people. Looking forward to your book!
    Cheers!

  13. Brittany on 09.07.2011 at 22:57 (Reply)

    Wow, what a critical teacher! I wrote about class participation before in a post http://theshynessproject.wordpress.com/2011/03/31/how-can-a-teacher-get-more-students-to-participate/ and got a pretty good response. I think it’s hard for more introverted or shy students to get a word in before more extroverted students do sometimes, which is part of the reason why they don’t participate as much. I think having people raise hands helps too, as it’s hard to compete with those who can instantly blurt out an answer.

  14. Anna on 03.08.2011 at 00:00 (Reply)

    I was a introverted student, no matter how hard I tried not to be, I was. I had very few teachers who would actually recognize and respect my unwillingness to participate, but I still took in every word. I would think to myself, “if I really listen and do good on my work, maybe she/he will realize I don’t actually have to participate in order to understand the material.” I had panic attacks and developed social anxiety because of some teachers making me participate. I think it’s great you want to change the stereo-type and I am more than willing to help you! I am now going to be a music teacher, and make it perfectly clear to everyone in my classroom that they are free to be whoever they are, I want them to be comfortable. Good read!

  15. Kathleen on 06.08.2011 at 02:02 (Reply)

    Having just stumbled upon your blog I was surprised! I am an introverted person, I like being alone reading and I do have good friends and a good relationship now but back in high school this wasn’t always the case. I had to go to summer school a lot, I couldn’t focus. Knowing that I had to be more extroverted I joined speech and debate just to improve my “public speaking’. Awful time.

    I agree with one above poster; ‘no one would recognize me today’ in class. I too am a teacher, of foreign language overseas. Unfortunately being introverted myself, doesn’t mean I know how to reach out to others in my class, many of my…no correction, ALL of my students are shy and quiet, in class anyway. We are required to grade upon participation so this means pulling teeth in class to get them to speak up!
    but this is good experience, and i’m learning just as much so its worth it.

    1. Bonnie on 06.08.2011 at 09:28 (Reply)

      The world would be a better place with more teachers like you in it.

  16. ELB on 10.08.2011 at 09:04 (Reply)

    What the? Are you seriously implying that the “quite student” is the one singled out? Parents and teachers alike scream at kids from kindergarten to sit quiet and listen. I’ve been scolding parents for years for yelling at their children to “shut up and be quiet” instead of praising them for what they are accomplishing.
    I would never think poorly of a quiet student or push them out of their comfort zone, but I do detest you acting as if they are the ones being bullied in the system, they are the ones the system was made for.

    1. Susan Cain on 10.08.2011 at 09:37 (Reply)

      Hi Elise — You’re right that the “shut up and be quiet” phenomenon is also an oppressive thing for naturally ebullient kids, and nothing I’m saying takes away from that problem. But the two problems exist side by side, I believe. School by its nature is difficult for quiet kids, because it asks them to spend a large proportion of their waking hours in a group setting, often learning their lessons in groups rather than individually, and all of this runs counter to their nature of preferring to interact in quiet, one-on-one or very small group settings. Then add to that the pressure they often feel, whether implicitly or explicitly, to speak up, join in, and so on, and it starts to add up to some of these kids feeling like there’s something wrong with them for their inability to act more like an extrovert…Might be interesting to poke around on this site for any articles having to do with kids, etc., to read some of the comments and hear about people’s experiences.

    2. DishonoredTeenageIntrovert on 29.04.2012 at 16:16 (Reply)

      my teacher called me gay.

  17. Natalia on 10.08.2011 at 21:01 (Reply)

    I’m from a Latin American country so I don’t know how much of my perspective is helpful to you, but I’ll share anyway. I finished high-school only a year before and was, I guess, a curious kind of student. I was, and am not, the most extroverted person, at least not meeting someone for the very first time, but never really had a problem in communicating my point of view, specially to adults. My classmates, however, where mostly different.
    I found that they either didn’t care or didn’t have the courage to speak freely and truly to adults, they seemed to respond based on what they thought the “grown-up” wanted to hear from them. Hence, the interaction between both was shallow and based on a lie.
    We did have teachers that expressed their interest in every one of us, that constantly reminded us that our voice and thoughts were important, however ‘small’ we considered them. It was this kind of teacher that slowly and gently made even the shyest of my classmates to speak up and turned the class into a truly learning enviroment.

  18. Dev on 20.09.2011 at 01:41 (Reply)

    Hi, this is Dev, from India. Most of my time, I have been an introvert. Teachers in school need to understand that introverted children are extra-sensitive and need love, care and special attention. When i was a child, I was always told: You are an introvert… You should never be happy with the way you are. Rather you should be unhappy, and always try to change yourself and be vocal…’ That’s the reason i suffered from a sense of guilt and lapsed into a state of depression in childhood. If only i was told ‘ Be happy with the way you are’, then i would have been a different child then - introvert, but happy.

    My country is famous for two historical personalities — Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (better known as just Gandhi in the west), and Lord Buddha (yes, contrary to popular belief, Lord Buddha was neither Chinese nor Japanese; he was an Indian), and BOTH THESE PEOPLE WERE INTROVERTS.

    I am a Hindu and so I don’t know much about Christianity. But i sincerely believe that Jesus Christ himself was an introvert.

    Introverts are peace-loving and are more in touch with the feminine side of their nature. Talking of the feminine, there is a girl (my ex-colleague) who one day told me that she has a big crush on me. I like her very much, because I find that she is so much like me. She too is an introvert, and i find that whenvever i chat with her online, i am able to express my feelings spontaneously and without any fear, as if i am chatting with myself. She is my best friend, and i can tell her my secrets that i can’t tell even to my parents. I like her the way she is. To me, she is the most beautiful person in the world.

    1. Brittany on 21.09.2011 at 00:15 (Reply)

      Wow, I can’t believe you were directly told that you should never be happy with the way you are as an introvert when you were growing up! What an awful thing to be told! This is exactly why topics like introversion, quietness, and even shyness (very different from introversion, I know) are so important to discuss now and bring some light to. This was a really great response to Susan’s post and it reminded me why I want to spread awareness on a similar topic, so I felt I should reply. (And your closing about the girl who you think is the most beautiful in the world was really sweet too, that’s awesome!)

      1. Dev on 21.09.2011 at 00:42 (Reply)

        Thanks a lot for the reply Brittany. Actually I was not directly told that I should be unhappy, but the way they said it to me (my parents and relatives), it seemed clear that they were not comfortable with my being happy and contented with the way I was (and still am), i.e., calm, silent, and observant rather than garrulous and talkative. The problem is that my family is LITTERED with pushy extroverts. I am sorry to use the term, but I used it because my family has disturbed me a lot during my childhood. Now since we have the internet and wonderful online articles and posts like these, we can understand / realize that we are perfectly normal, even if the society tries to make us think otherwise. And now I have a great friend - this girl (my ex-colleague) - with whom I can share all my private feelings and emotions, and that’s like a breath of fresh air for me. She was the first to teach me to be happy with the way I am. She herself was happy in childhood because her parents were caring and supportive, and considered her introversion to be natural (unfortunately, may parents and family members were the exact opposite!)…

        1. Brittany on 21.09.2011 at 01:12 (Reply)

          Yeah I know what you mean, I think most of the messages I’ve gotten growing up have been indirect too, but I know they’ve been there. The internet and blogging are great resources for finding other people who can relate to our experiences and I think reading about other people’s experiences sheds more light on my own and validates them. Even just sharing my own experiences on my blog has helped me learn a lot about myself and about the messages that are sent out in society about quietness.

          That’s really cool about your friend, I’m glad you guys crossed paths and can be there for each other like that! She sounds like a very valuable friend. :)

  19. elle on 07.11.2011 at 18:04 (Reply)

    “…research suggests that the majority of our teachers believe that the “ideal student” is an extrovert.

    The ideal American is an extrovert, in actuality. Therein lies the problem. There is no appreciation for those of us who require a slower, quieter pace. I was one of the children such a teacher might have complained about. I was introverted as well as very shy, and in the case of a shy child – they don’t know how to speak up or “advocate” for themselves. They may have terrible, overwhelming anxiety during class. I can recall the butterflies swimming in my stomach making me nauseated if I was ever called on. Most of the time I was ignored and shunned because of my quiet nature. What was worse, is that no one tried to help me. Not the school, not my family. At the time, late 70s to mid eighties when I was an adolescent, there was little understanding about introversion or shyness. I went through most of my life feeling utterly defective and alone.

  20. Eating as a Path to Yoga on 19.11.2011 at 12:00 (Reply)

    Being an introvert and being socially anxious are two very different things.

    1. elle on 20.11.2011 at 17:20 (Reply)

      Yes, I know they are different. I happen to be both introverted and bashful, unfortunately. My shyness has lessened over the years to where I can hold conversations, network, etc., but I still need solitary time to recharge and don’t tolerate crowds and loudness. It’s funny, but I used to think it was all shyness why I wasn’t as talkative and didn’t enjoy partying 24/7. When my social skills improved and I felt less anxious I was confused because I didn’t morph into a social butterfly. Then I found out about introversion, and my life was transformed.

    2. elb on 21.11.2011 at 11:50 (Reply)

      Yes Yoga I thought that too. Everything that is described above is for a social anxiety. My grandpa is an introvert, one of those people who, when he talks, it’s in your best interest to listen. He’s spent his whole life thinking and watching so when he does share those gems it is worth the wait. What he didn’t do is spend is whole life scared of crowds and worrying what other people think. He is a genius in his own mind and finds his observations more interesting than the small talk going on around him. I have another friend like that my age, I love when we talk and it’s always deeper than I could get out of someone as outgoing as myself. But I’ve also known many “shy” people who call themselves introverted as a protective mechanism. They are the most annoying, those with social anxiety. You spend all that time getting to know someone, getting into their trust to find that there is no special mind behind the mystery. Shallow as anyone else and usually over critical of others when they themselves are flawed and missing out on life. There is a HUGE difference between social anxiety and introversion.

  21. elle on 21.11.2011 at 14:16 (Reply)

    There absolutely is a huge difference between the two. Unfortunately they are lumped together because all the extroverts know is that you’re the quiet type. I am no longer socially anxious, but I am shy and I think there is a difference between the two of those. I don’t think there is anything the matter with being a shy person. I’m modest and sensitive, private, and not interested in being the center of attention and slow to warm up to others. Frankly I’m disturbed when introverted people berate shy people.

    When I was socially anxious I was afraid to speak up even if I needed to, and completely lacking in social skills. I had to teach myself through self-help books how to start conversations and keep them going. I think the root of this anxiousness was lack of skill, shame, and cruel treatment I received from others for being the “quiet girl.” I was bullied endlessly in grade school.

    I now realize that extroverts seek approval from the outside and the way they build their self-esteem is through social validation. Quiet people do not validate them the way outgoing, talkative types do. Quiet people make outgoing people feel bad.

    It sounds as though you doubt a person could be both introverted and shy. Obviously I disagree as I am assuredly both. Introverts gain energy from solitude and I definitely do. I’m not one who can work all day and then go to a noisy bar afterwards. In fact, I have no interest whatsoever in noisy bars, cocktail parties and huge crowds, etc. these things do not amp me up at all. Before I knew about introversion I was thinking that I needed to be interested in things like these to be “normal.” I now know that I am normal.

    Unless many extroverted people I am not interested in talking for talking’s sake. I for instance prefer to listen a lot and if I have nothing to interject I won’t. Many extroverts I’ve noticed will interject into a discussion simply to get their voices out even if they have nothing meaningful to add. For example one person may repeat what another person said during a conversation.

    I was in a relationship with an extrovert who believed that one is wasting his or her life unless one is socializing every minute. I find that attitude odd. I love books, film, sketching, writing being on the internet. My ex who claimed to be a big movie fan, would talk to me while I’m trying to watch a movie, he would berate me for quiet time on the computer playing a game, even though I would pay attention to what he said if he was talking or watching a game. It’s as if a world didn’t exist unless he was literally in socializing mode. That’s where the real action was for him. Everything else was a time waster until the “party” began.

    Perhaps some shy people are using introversion as a shield – can’t imagine why? I can’t imagine a shy extrovert trying to “hide” behind introversion. They want to be in with the right folks. I don’t care. I never did. I hated being socially anxious not because of the perceived social benefits I might get for being popular or hanging with whomever in high school. I knew I was an intelligent person and I thought an intelligent person should be able to ask for what she needed or hold a conversation if she wanted without feeling like a bumbling idiot. I felt genuinely ashamed of myself because the stupid. shallow kids (imho) had mastery over something I did not.

    1. elb on 21.11.2011 at 16:31 (Reply)

      Not talking for talking sake - the irony is too much. You’re as long as the article is. I am not doubting a person can be both, I am saying that introversion and shyness are two different things as previously said.

      Introversion/extroversion are psychological mindsets - one is not greater than the other, they are simply ways a person works with their surroundings. Shyness and Social anxiety are psychological disorders. They are completely separate.

      My introverted grandfather and good friend are very quiet, but I have seen them both speak eloquently and with confidence in front of crowds. In retrospect, when I was in high school I was shy and scared to be myself and didn’t like a lot of people. Amongst my friends I was as chatty and funny as anyone. THAT is a social disorder, NOT introversion.

      You clearly are not introverted or you wouldn’t feel the need to “express” yourself that much when you could have said what you said in much fewer words. You are an extrovert with a social disorder.

  22. elle on 21.11.2011 at 17:27 (Reply)

    I’m an introvert. Is that concise enough for you?

  23. Susan Cain on 23.11.2011 at 13:16 (Reply)

    Elle and ELB,

    I just saw this discussion and thought I might weigh in with a couple of things. (1) Shyness is absolutely not a social disorder and no psychologist thinks it is. It does cause discomfort and many people understandably wish to be rid of it, but it’s not a pathology; in fact according to the latest statistics more than 50% of Americans consider themselves shy. What is a pathology is “social anxiety disorder,” suffered by a much smaller portion of the population, around 6% — this is when the shyness is so severe that the person can’t go for a job interview, use a bathroom in public, that sort of thing. (2) People who were born with the sensitive temperaments that often — though not always — lead to shyness and/or introversion often have many other benefits documented in the research literature, including increased empathy, conscientiousness, and a deep processing of information and social interactions. This doesn’t make them either “better” or “worse” than others. It’s just a different set of potential pros and cons none of which really mean anything except as applied in each individual’s life. (3) Here is a post I once did on the difference between shyness and introversion. Might be helpful: http://www.thepowerofintroverts.com/2011/07/05/are-you-shy-introverted-both-or-neither-and-why-does-it-matter/

    Hope this is useful…

  24. Apple on 28.11.2011 at 07:28 (Reply)

    Great article! I am a very introverted person (or so I think… I don’t talk much unless it’s in front of people I REALLY know or (sometimes) don’t know at all, and then I blather on…), one of those who adores classes with little busy work and mostly discussion, even though I don’t usually take part in the discussions. However, I never have to study for discussion classes, and I usually end up loving those teachers the most.

    I have one current teacher who drives me insane because he takes ‘participation grades’ at least once a week. He honestly says “If you don’t talk, you get a zero.” And I HATE that. He’s a decent teacher, and I have opinions and thoughts, but I just.. can’t voice them in front of an entire class, and I don’t think I should get in trouble for that.

    All of my school years, I’ve been called quiet, but sweet. But since getting into my later years of high school, the teachers just look at me oddly. I suppose they may think I don’t listen to something, but I do and teachers who just don’t seem to care get on my last nerve!

    Er, anyways. Good article, and I really hate how extroverted teachers/school forces you to be. I was home schooled until 7th grade, and on the first day of school, I wanted to go back to home school. I still do, but I’m almost finished now and it’d be stupid. I have a job, and it’s a heck of a lot easier to do things and speak up there than it is at school. I can’t wait to graduate and never have to look back!

  25. Maria on 25.01.2012 at 01:16 (Reply)

    Looking back at my school years leads to nothing but regret and anger.
    Regret that I couldn’t be “normal” and was the painfully shy girl who wanted to disappear, and anger because of the abuse or neglect from my teachers.
    I didn’t really have very many kids bully me, they were all too busy in their own dramatic world to notice anyone else around them, but teachers would often mistake my shyness for a mental disorder and that I was less intelligent than the other talkative students.
    One time when I was standing in front of the class to do a project, I completely froze up and it seemed like my throat closed.
    After minutes of awkward silence and all eyes on me, my teacher literally yelled at me for not giving my presentation and threatened to fail me.
    The yelling and abuse went back to kindergarten where my teacher made fun of and picked on my five year old self to the point of tears, which she then ignored.
    On top of it my parents did nothing. They knew how I suffered and was belittled by teachers and they kept to themselves about it.
    Never tried talking to me when I was in a bad mood or help me resolve the issue.
    Never demanded to speak to the teacher and ask why they were so cruel to me.
    I felt lost and completely alone in my silence while taking the abuse.
    I already made a promise to myself that if my kids grow up to be like me, I will defend them 100% and not leave them to be eaten by wolves.
    Teachers have no right to dislike or belittle any student.
    They are the ones with the mental issues, not the kids.

  26. elle on 25.01.2012 at 13:31 (Reply)

    Maria,
    Your story makes me cry. I share your anger about how shy children are often treated cruelly. Imagine, a child who is hurting no one being hated and picked on especially by an adult who should know better is heartbreaking and in your case, child abuse.

    I’m particularly disturbed that your parents did nothing, absolutely nothing. That is the worse of all. I’m so sorry you had this experience. No child should ever go through that ever.

    Any teacher that would abuse that trust should be fired. Period and never allowed around children ever.

  27. Brittany on 25.01.2012 at 16:17 (Reply)

    Hey Maria, I noticed your post too and I’m so very sorry of how your teachers treated you in school. I had a teacher that wasn’t very understanding about my shyness/quietness too. I don’t have the fondest memories of elementary school and parts of middle school either. Thank you for sharing, your post was very touching to me and I had to let you know that.

  28. HB on 06.02.2012 at 01:24 (Reply)

    At a “progressive” private school that highly values creativity, individuality, and original thought, my daughter’s grades are lowered 1/2 grade due to class participation. The school doesn’t understand the difference between class participation and class etiquette. The administration informs the student body that a good % of their grades derive from class participation. This message motivates the loud students to become more vocal at directing their voice to the teacher, not the class. This has made it very difficult for my daughter to speak up.

    Class discussions have become a battle for the “voice grade”.

    I just don’t understand how an intelligent group of teachers and administrators don’t understand that negative reinforcement will never create positive change. They just don’t get it that quiet people will not change. Punishing them for their innate disposition is destructive, it only lowers the quiet persons confidence and self image. It also doesn’t create any goodwill towards the school.

    I can only hope the senior administrators read your book, I gave them one last week. Any suggestions? Thank you, HB

  29. B. Spencer on 15.03.2012 at 20:35 (Reply)

    I was a quiet student,and students/teachers did make fun of me. However, when I had something to say, when my button had been punched one time too many, I spoke and people listened. I had the same problem at the college level and on the workforce! I was a bit quiet by mouth, but my facial expressions spoke much! It seemed that my eyes spoke loudly!
    As a teacher, I made it a point to gently encourage quiet ones to speak.
    Parents and supervisors felt that I had an “attitude” simply because I had a strong, quiet presence which made me sound like a know-it-all when I spoke. I know that students who appear to be quiet are forces to be reckoned with!
    I am now retired, and I still have problems with my “quietness!”

  30. Comenius on 15.03.2012 at 20:52 (Reply)

    High school wasn’t too bad for me at all because I was in Band, and Band kids tend to be pretty tight. College, on the other hand, was torture. There’s nothing like college to make an introvert feel like he’s some weird freak of nature. I was miserable all four years, and to be perfectly honest I don’t know how I managed to survive without dropping out….or worse. They say that college is supposed to be the best years of your life. For me, it was *by far* the worst four years of my entire life.

    1. Amy on 10.04.2012 at 05:59 (Reply)

      So glad to know I’m not the only introvert who hated college. It was like a constant battle with knowing what I was supposed to be doing (parties, making lifelong connections, networking with professors) and not being able to do those things. I had a hard time in high school too, but that was mostly with peers. With a few very prominent exceptions (mostly in elementary and jr. high, actually), most of my teachers were good with me and understood how an introvert functioned. In college, I had the issues with my peers, professors who didn’t know who I was despite my stellar academic record, and the constant bombardment of the media telling me I should be enjoying this more.

  31. sonata on 16.03.2012 at 03:24 (Reply)

    It is so painful to contemplate the number of times my child’s teachers criticized her for not asking for help, not speaking up more in class, not initiating social interactions — and this was all before the third grade.

    She was completely capable of putting complex thoughts and feelings into words; they considered her a gifted writer (she was). But because she didn’t share everything out loud, because she had extraordinary self possession and because she just wasn’t cut from the cloth they expected, she was a mystery to them. Some teachers were interested in her; how can a child this bright and articulate be so self contained? Other teachers experienced her qualities as hostile; she’s withholding!

    For my part, as her introverted mother, it was a series of agonies as I observed her take in their opinions and negative judgments. She had no need to be how they wanted her to be, but recognized that she was at a real disadvantage for her inborn way of going in a world where this isn’t accepted or admired. At least she was understood at home, and spent many hours just restoring herself in her room or in my quiet company.

    Throughout her education, I used to say that I hated school even more than when I was in school. I went to schools (as did she) that touted themselves as interested in individuality, as cultivating a mosaic. It was cruel to realize that some of the mosaic tiles were valued less than others.

  32. sonata on 16.03.2012 at 03:29 (Reply)

    Addendum: one of the worst aspects of school is that if a child isn’t rewarding for the teacher, the child will have a problem. I used to coach my daughter about paying attention, and looking like one is paying attention. She paid attention just fine, but if she didn’t make eye contact, or behave in a way that told the teacher she was interested, it didn’t matter. I hated having to tell her this, because I wanted the world to be a nicer place, but I considered it a survival skill she needed to have.

  33. J on 16.03.2012 at 07:32 (Reply)

    I’m sorry to say this, but I once had a teacher who was just like Natalie Munro, and it affects me negatively to this day. Her actions towards me I have never shook but I wish that I could. I’ve always been introverted and painfully shy, I think a large part was due to having ADD. I’m now 45 and don’t see myself changing, although I wish I could. Society is way too judgmental of introverts, and teachers like Natalie Munro and my former teacher just shouldn’t be teaching…..period!

  34. Michelle on 16.03.2012 at 07:48 (Reply)

    When I was in school as a child, I had a speech impediment ( severe stuttering ). So I was extrenely shy . At home, I still had the stuttering , but just a bit more comfortable around relatives ( even though sometimes , some would make fun of my speech ), also. I remember even though my parents went up to the school to explain to the prinipal, I was still required to give verbal responses. Each time sent my body into complete panic mode. I’d actually get so sick, I’d have to go to the nurse’s office and be sent home, still sick (stomach cramps, hot and cold sweats.). In college I did fair better. While in college, I took ” Hearing and speech classes ” for therapy. I still stutter a bit, but it’s controlled. I was humilated and redicude throuhout my young childhood and youth., by family , teachers, and so-called friends. I’m not as shy, or as quite anymore; however someone should speak to the teachers about compassion. I always did extra-extra credit work, to make up for my speech problems back then, it was grouling, and sad time for me.

    1. adarc on 16.03.2012 at 17:20 (Reply)

      I’ve had teachers that threw scissors ( my best friend Megan lost a chunk of of her left ear), ones that threw yardsticks, one second grade teacher who used deny children the bathroom pass until they wet themselves. None of them were as bad a my daughter’s 3rd grade teacher who set her classroom up Lord of Flies style, and set up open season on two or three of the quiter kids. That was her method of classroom control.
      That is why I homeschoolnow.

  35. Renee B on 16.03.2012 at 08:14 (Reply)

    My daughter is an extrovert and the teachers either love her or hate her. There are many times she will be shut down by the teacher. She complimented a teachers outfit one day and the teacher (substitute) told her to shut her mouth. When Molly tried to say she was only giving a compliment, the teacher told her to leave the room. Molly wasn’t being disrespectful, only outgoing. She spent the 1.5 hour period sitting on a cold floor in the hallway, and she has arthritis. The next day, all of the students told the main teacher how unfair Molly had been treated. There are MANY teachers who do not like an extroverted child. They prefer the quiet types so they can simply run their class and not be “bothered”.

  36. Joyce on 16.03.2012 at 08:49 (Reply)

    I teach high school social studies to struggling learners. Most extroversion I see is not content related but is just intended to get laughs and attention. I cannot imagine announcing 5% of the grade is for oral participation. However, students have different learning styles and I do give credit to students who make thoughtful observations to the class yet falter at written test questions.

    As a teacher, it is so much easier to be extroverted with students than with adults. For one thing, you can hardly redirect the mindless babble of adults. Some people talk so much, but have so little to say.

  37. cayers on 16.03.2012 at 10:01 (Reply)

    I was particularly struck by your question about why we take it as normal that high school is the worst time of our lives. It’s almost like a hazing ritual in American society - we all know the high school system is miserable and oppressive, but at the same time we don’t do anything about it and, in some ways, glorify it. Maybe it’s time to rethink the whole system, period.

  38. Nancy on 16.03.2012 at 10:44 (Reply)

    Anyone who has studied anything about human nature learns very quickly there are four distinct personality types and within those personality types there is both introverted and extroverted. Clear fact of life.

    Society today has ostracized the introvert and turned it into something bad which I think is very sick. Most of the great minds of the world have been the quiet, introspective introverts. Why so many “shallow” know-nothing extrovert “cheerleaders” want to turn that into something bad, I haven’t a clue. They are succeeding however, with the current state of education in America.

    I was painfully shy in high school and found no support in the system but was able to “rise above” the nonsense and go on and do something productive and rewarding with my life.

    Today, I see the same thing going on in the business world. The so-called “leaders” are the extroverts and this hasn’t necessarily been a good thing for America or its corporations. In fact, some of the best performing companies were founded by the likes of Bill Gates, a deep thinking introvert.

  39. Suzanne Ryan on 16.03.2012 at 11:00 (Reply)

    As a former classroom teacher with thirty years of experience working with young children, I found that children forced to enter school before their fifth birthday were often not developmentally ready and most often the introverts referred to by their parents as shy.They didn’t feel comfortable taking a risk in front of their peers.

    If given enough TIME they usually outgrew this stigma. Children in NYS who enter school at the age of four are at a great disadvantage when compared to their peers who may have turned five ten months earlier. We actually provided an extra year program at our school for the younger children and by the end of the second year many of the “shy” traits were replaced by the confidence that comes with success. Intelligence is rarely a factor. These younger children are intelligent and aware enough to realize they feel inadequate but not old enough or wise enough to realize why. It is up to the adults to protect them and provide them with the right environment where they can thrive.I recommend Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “Outliers: The Story of Success.”

    I am one of those children who went all the way through school and into college “too young”. I hated high school because everyone seemed ready for things before me. I was seventeen during my entire freshman year in college.

    For those of you who are teachers, conduct a survey in your classrooms and graph student birthdays to see if there is any correlation between birth date and class participation. And if you are a parent, consider giving your child more TIME before expecting them to enter the pressures of school.They will surprise you and themselves.

  40. James Brantley on 16.03.2012 at 11:14 (Reply)

    I am a high school teacher who sees students of every description. When I notice that one of my students is unusually quiet and withdrawn, I make an effort to talk to them. I ask them how they are doing, and if there is anything they need. I ask them if they are having any problems in school, and if they enjoy school. I try to do for them what my teachers failed to do for me, a very quiet and shy teenager. I was mostly ignored by my teachers. Although I now enjoy a good life with a good career and wonderful family, I wonder how my high school days might have been different if I had a teacher who tried to reach out to me.

  41. Ward Kendall on 16.03.2012 at 11:16 (Reply)

    J.K. Rowling is a “great thinker”?

    Rich, successful, entertaining…but certainly not a “great thinker”.

  42. Em on 16.03.2012 at 11:46 (Reply)

    A lot of kids are quiet because they are bored out of their minds. I stayed quiet so as to not prolong the onslaught of mindless chatter the teacher thought was guidance. Not to mention the utter drudgery of busy work. I just wanted everyone to shut up and get it done so we could all move on to something we enjoyed / was more challenging and worthwhile.

  43. susan b. on 16.03.2012 at 11:50 (Reply)

    Having been the introverted student in school, i fully understand the view from the desk. Teachers are taught a one way to teach method, and often it does not apply to the introvert. The classes I thrived in were those where the teacher looked at the class as a whole, not one individual type of student. When I felt the freedom to be me, I would show the extrovert that was hidden within. This made my H.S. years the most enjoyable, as opposed to jr high and elementary school where I was often ignored and overlooked. Even though my grades were quite good,I could have excelled given the opportunity.

  44. Kristi on 16.03.2012 at 12:01 (Reply)

    Being an introvert has little to do with how much you talk or don’t, it’s more a way of thinking that people in schools and even business don’t understand. It’s more thinking things through before speaking or contributing.

    Even in grad school I had a professor who based part of our final grad on how much we participated, asked questions, etc. thought I didn’t contribute enough. I felt like I’d contributed too much!

    Even if you’re doing work you love, most work environments are not made for introverts especially if you want to get paid a lot of money. I don’t see too many introverted stock traders or lawyers or doctors. It’s just recently that creators, developers and the like are beoming the leaders of today, because they think long-term rather than just the now.

    I’m in my mid-40s and still work with cliques so work can be just as bad as any high school experience, and it doesn’t help that I mostly work with people outside the company and in a “thinking” position.

  45. Elizabeth on 16.03.2012 at 12:05 (Reply)

    I love the understanding you expressed here. I was an extremely introverted child with terrible social anxiety. I would cry every single day when I would come home from school because it was so hard for me to be there. I was smart and the school work was fine but being around my peers hurt me emotionally and I didn’t understand why. Of course, they sensed that and eventually I was teased and bullied. This went on for the entire 12 years of school. As a 30-year old woman with a wonderful husband and children of my own (ages 13, 7, 3, and 2) I still look back at my years in school with anxiety and horror. I worry about my children in school and I obsessively check up on them by asking about their day, if anyone bothers them and by also having good communication with thier teachers. I had a small handful of teachers that understood me and they meant the world to me then and now. I never would have made it through without them. I also had teachers like the one listed above who treated me like a burden because I wasn’t like the rest of my class. She even told my mother that I needed to be placed in MRDD classes. Of course I was tested and the complete opposite was found to be true. I don’t understand how somebody who choses that particular profession can be so insensitive.

  46. Lana Lancaster on 16.03.2012 at 12:07 (Reply)

    I was very quiet and introverted all through school. My friends were constantly telling me to speak up because 9 times out of 10 I knew the answer, but was just too shy to shine. I excelled at writing exercises, art, and believe it or not oral reports and presentations. If I was given a little time to prepare, I could do it. I just could not perform at the drop of a hat, which is how I still think of class participation. The teacher asking a question and then singling me out to answer was my worst nightmare. The teachers that got me were able to show me and my fellow class mates that I was smart, capable, and not some super wierdo. The ones that did not get me made my life truly miserable. I’m about to have my first child and I hope that I can help her to handle society and school in a way that will allow her to look back at it with fondness instead of the way I do with loathing and misery.

  47. Ledyard on 16.03.2012 at 12:08 (Reply)

    I was always a painfully shy student. I was smart but my disengagement was seen as a lack of effort or understanding of the subject. For me, it came to a head in a junior high English class. We were reading Romeo and Juliet and Mrs. Yoemans announced that the next assignment would be a public speaking one. We were to select a passage from the book and recite it in front of the class. We were allowed to work with partners and act out the scenes together. For someone as painfully shy as I was, there was no partner. I asked if I could do a written book report instead and she said no. I tried being absent for 3 days while the performances were given. Even though the class had moved on to something else, I was told to stand up in front of the class and give my reading on the day I returned to class. Some how I got through it and returned to my seat, despite the fact that I experienced my first ever panic attack. I’d already reached a point where I saw other students as “the enemy” but that day all teachers became “the enemy” to me as well. Based on this one experience I believed they were all insensitive and uncaring. To me, there was nothing left to care about at school. I stopped reading the books and bought Cliff’s notes. Eventually I stopped buying the Cliff’s notes. I started looking out the windows and daydreaming rather than listening to anything the teacher had to say. Needless to say, my grades were getting worse and worse. I started skipping class, then entire days of school. I eventually dropped out when I turned 16.

    I don’t blame the teachers for the bad choices I made, but I see them as one of the problems I couldn’t overcome. I don’t blame myself for the choices because I was an immature and frightened kid calling out for help. I do look at my past and see it as proof that our “one size fits all” education system is failing many of the children it is suppose to help. And it isn’t just the troubled ones like I was, my own daughter was ahead of her classmates from 1st grade on (not just a proud mother - they tested her and told us of here college reading level when she was in 3rd grade) but the system didn’t fit her either. Rather than give her work that challenged her and helped her grow, they would always pair her with a slow student on group projects. She would feel stifled and frustrated. If her partner had a strong will she would turn in a project she wasn’t proud of and get a C, if her partner didn’t care, she would do all the work and they would get an A. We are just two examples of kids that don’t fit the mold, and I am sure there are many more. It makes me wonder if it really is the majority that do fit it, or if they are just another small percentage, but the one that is easiest to deal with. Anyway, every time I read a news article about a student that flips out and brings violence and disaster to their school, a tiny part of me understand. That is what really breaks my heart.

  48. Some Guy on 16.03.2012 at 12:11 (Reply)

    It also explains how the intellectually mundane, but loquacious students can get good grades, good recommendations, ivy-league admits, and end up President.

  49. Dan F on 16.03.2012 at 12:13 (Reply)

    I wasn’t a quiet one per say. I was more of a social outcast. Some teachers I got along with the others, I fought tooth and nail. But, after the military, one degree, and working on a second degree. I have gotten some of the quiet ones to learn how to stand up for themselves and be heard so they can pursue life with full confidence. Sometimes being quiet is good but sometimes people need to stand up for themselves. I had a professor that expected all the student to be quiet when she was bashing men, promoting homosexuals, but when she started bashing my military brethren I and other vets stood up and said “excuse me?” Lets just say she never bashed the military again while I was in her class.

  50. Jeremy on 16.03.2012 at 12:24 (Reply)

    The problem is not that introverted kids are introverts, it’s that the loud kids need to be made to shut their mouths sometimes. Some teachers clearly are drawn into the mob mentality of a loudmouth-led classroom, maybe so they won’t have to spend as much effort teaching and engaging everyone. So the loudmouths rule. I was quiet as a churchmouse in high school but in college and beyond I blossomed. I only hope some of the high school bigmouths had the opposite experience, of falling into unpopularity precisely because of their talk-before-thinking style.

  51. bigdee on 16.03.2012 at 12:54 (Reply)

    I was mainly quiet in high school because I needed braces way back then and we couldn’t afford them. I didn’t like to smile much or take pictures. Despite my willingness to show my teeth often or smile, I maintained a B average throughout high school and finished college with a B average as well. Interesting how people read and judge each other without knowing much about them or their situation whether in class or in the home.

  52. Tommy on 16.03.2012 at 13:10 (Reply)

    I’m an introvert and have had to suffer my way through school and postgrad because of it. I’ve never had a job or school interview or evaluation where it wasn’t brought up at least once. Why is there such a stigma? I think the stigma (if there should be any) should be on those with potty mouths that love the sound of their own voices. So I don’t like small talk… get over it. In most of the West, society is against those like myself (though I’m White). I would probably fit better in an Asian country. A lot of teachers started off thinking I was a total moron and then I would score at the top of the class on exams and they’d be forced to change their mind. I don’t make friends very well and that’s just the burden I guess I’ll carry in this life (I have a sure hope in the next). Those who have been my friend and have shown me kindness, I have not and will not forget.

  53. Kristi on 16.03.2012 at 13:25 (Reply)

    It’s true that we think people in our families would love us just the way we are. My mom, who loves me dearly, is quiet, but she’s an extrovert whereas I’m an introvert who moved around a lot. I think she, and many others, think that if I don’t talk to someone it means that I’m stuck-up, a snob, etc., which couldn’t be be further from the truth. She said that to me a long time ago and it has stayed with me for many, many years.

    I’m glad my husband is mostly an introvert, too. It doesn’t mean that we don’t talk to each other or other people, just that we don’t mind the silences (probably has something to do with us both being only children, too). Some friends just won’t be quiet and it drive me insane!

  54. Bill on 16.03.2012 at 13:52 (Reply)

    I am a college professor who also sees extroverted students. I am extremely extroverted myself so I never push students to participate. As a student myself, I preferred solitude, so I am not sure reaching out to an introvert is what they want. I also received more grief from my family about being introverted than at school. Each student learns in their own way, if they need help, most will seek it out or do fine without it. I think the most important thing is not to penalize or be condescending to a student because they are quiet. Usually the highest achieving students are quite introverted. Personally, I think many students would do better with more time to themselves, rather than interacting with others. As a faculty, I was penalized for not being social with students, but I can think of more important interactions to have with students at the university level.

  55. Past introvert student on 16.03.2012 at 14:20 (Reply)

    Many teachers in schools (elementary/middle/high) were and still are extroverts and expect everyone to be like them. Look at the general age range of teachers today. Many are 2-8 years out of college (not much experience there) and decided teaching was an easy A/degree. Sorry, that is my view of many teachers my children had in the past 20-25 years. These are the spoiled, always allowed, given all children/now adults/teachers that were the bane for my children when they were young. They had anything/everything they wanted and didn’t care who they hurt with their words or actions. And, today, you can’t hold a teacher responsible if your child isn’t getting it in class because they think they are soooooo very smart. Guess what….they’re not. They are just like you and me. They should, I repeat, SHOULD be learning while they are teaching. Children can ‘teach’ a lot if someone pays attention. Sorry teachers, but the majority, not all, teachers I had to deal with for my own introverted children (introverted with idiot teachers that is) were themselves —- [you put word in here - negative]. The ones that were good, worked with the quiet kids and learned from them about differences and ways to help all the kids in class, not just the mouthy, or smart kids, but ALL. Those are the teachers I and my children remember. They made big differences in my children’s lives. And as adults today, they also remember many of the things they learned in those teachers classes, yet forget the others because they were basically bored or ignored by someone who really just didn’t care.

  56. laurie on 16.03.2012 at 14:26 (Reply)

    I have 3 daughters, the first 2 are very “vocal” and have a lot to say. They are very smart, did well in school in all honors classes. My third daughter is my “quiet” child and she is the smartest of all 3. She is not shy, nor does she suffer from low esteem. She is active in multiple sports and our church youth group, and is always voted by her classmates as a favorite. Because her sisters have so much to say people (teachers and coaches) usually assume she is shy and she just laughs because those that know her see different. I asked her why she didn’t talk more and her answer was “I talk when I have something to say.” Teachers that are frustrated with students that don’t participate in class discussions just need to realize intelligence is not based on what the student says, it is based on what the student knows. The teachers job is to teach the material at hand period, without judging personality.

  57. AK on 16.03.2012 at 14:27 (Reply)

    As a parent of a child who had selective mutism in preschool and who still works to overcome residual shyness, I am appalled by these comments.

    As a teacher, even more so. I know firsthand that, for all students to participate in class discussion, activities often need to be very purposefully structured. It is the teacher’s job to provide multiple entry points for all students, whether they are shy, English Learners, on an IEP for speech, etc.

  58. A. Meehan on 16.03.2012 at 14:39 (Reply)

    I had an english teacher in junior high that used to call on me purposely to get me to talk in class. It made me so mad/defensive that I used to say “I don’t know”, even if I did, because I knew what he was doing. Then in college I had several classes where class participation was part of the grading scheme. Don’t participate in class, get a lower grade. That made me angry too. Still does. Forcing people who are uncomfortable expressing themselves in a crowd to talk in class (including grading how often they do) seems inherently wrong to me. And exactly what Susan discusses as a culture that values “extrovertedness”.

  59. Steph on 16.03.2012 at 14:59 (Reply)

    When I was in the fourth grade we were taking turns reading in our readers and it was my turn to read. I was stumped on the first word and couldn’t even sound it out. The teacher assumed I wasn’t paying attention, made a nasty remark and asked the next kid to read. I was the new kid who none of the other kids liked and they would make fun of me every chance they got, be it in the class room, hallways, playground, etc.
    I became one of those students who didn’t like to speak up in class and found it very frightening to be called on to answer anything.

  60. Lorrie Schnittker on 16.03.2012 at 15:13 (Reply)

    I was “painfully shy” in school. Although I got straight A’, the teachers tended to prefer the outgoing obnoxious students. My dad was an extravert and forced me to take Drama all through Jr. High and High School. Dad knew what he was doing. I actually liked it. Like the show “Glee” everyone accepted you. So now fast forward to thirthy years later- my husband (also a former shy child)and I are the “extroverts” who throw the neighborhood parties and host our kid’s friends. They think we are so outgoing and cool, if they only knew. Inside I am just as shy. I still prefer to read than go to a party. That’s why I throw them (I have the control and am comfortable at home)! Now I’m finding my kids are shy, so perhaps a trip to the theatre is needed.

  61. SusanA on 16.03.2012 at 15:35 (Reply)

    As a 25 year teacher and an extrovert, I must say that Natalie Munro does NOT speak for all or even most of us. Remember the quote “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” ?
    I love my introverts! I get so tired of those who speak first and think later. And I’ve never seen introverts bully other students. And don’t forget “Still waters run deep”.

  62. Christa on 16.03.2012 at 15:43 (Reply)

    I think the best way to reach introverted students is to get creative! There are many ways to probe for understanding and get students involved, and the majority of them don’t require a student to be extroverted. For example, teachers can have their students hold up mini dry erase boards with their answers, ask students to come up with answers in small groups, ask students to give thumbs up/thumbs down responses to answers, and have the whole class give fast choral responses to certain review questions. In fact, these methods can help an otherwise-introverted student feel like part of a welcoming classroom environment. At this point she might even begin to feel comfortable volunteering answers in front of her peers.

    Just something to think about.

  63. Maurice on 16.03.2012 at 15:55 (Reply)

    As a teacher isn’t it her responsibility to include those students who are normally withdrawn? How dare she attack the parents and students for being who they are! I am an introvert as an adult. I don’t like hanging out with people but will if the situation arises or if I’m forced too. I have a son who takes tae kwon do and he’s much more outgoing than I am. In fact one of the parents asked how can such an introverted person have such an outgoing child. Because that’s who he is! I don’t force my child to be like me and I am very glad that he’s not. I went completely of topic. That said she should have made an effort to include the children she saw as “problems” instead of blogging about it for the world to see. We as a country need to start paying teachers more money to filter out the ignorant ones who have no clue. We would get the smartest, brightest, and kindest teachers. Instead of the witless and the uncaring.

  64. Gloria on 16.03.2012 at 16:34 (Reply)

    My two sons are introverts. My oldest was emotionally abused by his 4th grade teacher because he was a quiet thinking type who did not participate enthusiastically enough for the teacher. This extrovert teacher wanted the party atmosphere non-stop; sports games, competitions,fast, hurry, jump, all extrovert activites all day long. She would ride him and publicly humiliate him for not participating. When I asked her to stop she said ‘no-he needs a good kick in the pants’. The anxiety and self-esteem ‘kick in the pants’ effected him throughout high school and into college. Finally he understands that being an introverted problem solving thinker is GREAT and he is happy to be very picky about the people he spends time with.

  65. Cody on 16.03.2012 at 16:51 (Reply)

    It really is hard to be an introvert not just in high school but in life in general however high school is particularly troubling because there is the fact that I or anyone else for that matter is still growing and developing which added onto the external pressure of trying to conform to the ideal society has contructed for everyone, otherwise I think I have adjusted rather well in College and as an adult still it really should be something that needs to at the very least be publicly addressed.

  66. B. Russell on 16.03.2012 at 16:53 (Reply)

    I was surprised by this article because I would have thought it was the opposite. Teachers really appreciate the students who are quiet and let them teach. I can see participation grades for PE and speech or drama classes, but not for regular core classes. In my 8th grade langauge arts classes, I do not force students to work in groups when it is time for groupwork. Those who prefer to work alone are allowed to do so. Perhaps this is because I am married to an introvert and have a child who is also rather shy, but I try to be sensitive to this issue.

  67. Mama L on 16.03.2012 at 17:00 (Reply)

    Bless you, Susan Cain, and each of you “quiet ones” who have shared your personal stories in these comments. How heartening to read your self-perspectives that give me great insight to my sweet girl. My daughter is a beautiful, intelligent, musically-gifted young lady who has always struggled to fit in with her more extroverted peers (as well as her 12-yr-old outgoing sister!) As we are in the midst of deciding where she will attend high school next year, this post is very timely and insightful for me. I can hardly wait until I get your book (for my own understanding) and gain more tools to help her thrive in the world she lives in. Many thanks!!

  68. adarc on 16.03.2012 at 17:08 (Reply)

    My mother-in-law who taught for 40 years called them “gray children” - you know they were nothing special, just gray. I’ve also heard other teachers call them wallpaper kids, classroom filler and classroom decorations.
    I think it is horrible, especially because as far as I can tell the system teaches you to sit still and be quiet for the first 6 years,and then suddenly you are supposed to be an expert in debating, forming thoughts and opinions of your own, and public speaking, all with little no to preparation or guidance.

    I also think as much as teacher may complain about them, they also love them. If they are sitting quietly being gray, then they are at least not disrupting the class, or requiring much work from you, the teacher.

  69. Mike Palmieri on 16.03.2012 at 17:25 (Reply)

    Glad I am not the only introvert in the world, most of my life have felt as a loner. Had great experience with grade school K-6. Great grades, friends, played sports, participated in class and did not really feel like an introvert. That is until I hit 7th grade. Junior High school was like getting thrown into a foreign country. Lost my friends, lost interest in sports, didn’t participate in class, grades went downhill, had problems with teachers and administration because I was “dumb” and “uncooperative” Then I stopped going and just couldn’t bring my self to go. I would walk out the front door of my mothers house and hide in the back yard until she left for work then I would hang out in town playing pinball all day with older friends I had that were out of school already. Then I was sent to a local “Bad Kid” school, did fine. Went back to regular school, and my mother would take me to school and drop me off at the front door. I would go to homeroom and then right out the back door of the school. Next was homeschool which I did great with. The beginning of the next school year back to regular high school. Lasted about 6 weeks, and right back to where I left off. After a few weeks of truancy I was refered to County Juvenile Court system and taken out of my home and placed in an onsite “Detention School” an hour and a half from home. Did wonderfully considering the circumstance and actually made Honors. I was a minority among 200 students, the majority of students where there for things from drugs, assaults, theft, robbery. I was there for truancy…… Anyway I finished out the school year and was returned home. I started the following school year back at my high school. After about 6-8 weeks I was right back were I left off. I pleaded with my mother to let me quit, I promised I would aquire my GED as I proved several times I was not the problem and just could not succeed in this school with this administration. She finally agreed and let me quit. That was 20 years ago, I got my GED 10 years ago and never looked back. I have started a few businesses and self taught myself everything from Marketing to Investing and have learned to fix everything from cars to houses, just wish I had one teacher to notice my potential and help me out.

  70. Howard McCain on 16.03.2012 at 17:25 (Reply)

    I had some real problems with my father at home, not physically abusive but he never once in my life told me I had done a good job, but he always made sure I felt inadequate no matter how hard I tried. So, I built a wall around me, he still hurt me, but I never showed any emotion, I was not going to let anybody hurt me anymore. It helped, but I think it sort of became a part of my personality. At school I was very introverted. I missed out on a lot of social relations that I could have had, but nobody could breach the wall I build around my emotions. But I still liked school, I did have some friends and some teachers did let me know that I was O. K. After High School I served as a commissioned officer in the Army and I obtained a University B. S. degree in Civil Engineering, I have always had a good job, have a wife and three kids, and I consider myself a happy person. My father even then never once told me that he was proud of me. After he passed away my mother told me that he had bragged about me to his acquaintances and friends frequently. Wonder why he would never tell me ??

  71. Ty on 16.03.2012 at 17:27 (Reply)

    Some bookworm teachers forget the world is bigger than their classroom.

    I was an above-average student who CHOSE to be introverted. I crammed 1 AP course, 4 courses at a community college, speech & debate, drama club, basically doing ‘college freshmen year’ during high school. Did well in college @ 8am thanks to a tutor at a campus lounge, but during my 3rd period class in H.S. at 10am, I saw my teachers had ‘favorites’ and I was NOT one of them. When I stumble on a few problems, teacher looks at my homework, gave a couple suggestions, then walked back to her favorite students.

    So, I kept my mouth shut, arrive/leave quietly. I started skipping class; about 42 days in total b/c I knew how to produce an authentic pass using my internships. Come exam time, I finish it quick enough to land a B-, so I can drive my buddy’s 14 yr old sister to the dentist because she was too scared to take a bus. Teacher thought I was selling drugs.

    I still matriculated to a top regional university with scholarships, so I’m fine, even though my counselor said I’m ‘not college material’. Interestingly, another teacher knew the game I was playing & told me I should have graduated at 15 and skip this whole ‘mouse race’. LOL (BTW, the game is essentially use all High School resources at age 16 to finish your college freshman year in lieu of being a participant of high school dreaming about college.)

    I’m a technical VP for a retail company now. Teacher probably thinks I’m still selling drugs.

  72. tracy d. on 16.03.2012 at 17:28 (Reply)

    Obviously this teacher does not recognize that “still water runs deep”.

  73. Pat Koby on 16.03.2012 at 17:38 (Reply)

    Finally a post that speaks of ADD. I have been reading these comments and I recognize myself in the descriptions of the introverted school children. After all these years (I am 60 yrs old now) that in addition to not being able to perform academically in the same ways the other children did, I may have been mistaken for being shy! If I appeared shy, it was only because I was scared to death to answer a question for fear of the ridicule of a wrong or “different” answer. I sat through every day of school terrified that the teacher would call on me. …and that would only be because he/she needed to give me an obligatory chance. My parents agreed with my 6th grade teacher that I should repeat the grade because I was just not applying myself. There was no recognition of ADD then, but the costs of teachers bullying right along with the other kids was mighty high. I have nightmares still about the star charts that showed just how stupid I was. I hated school. I still hate taking classes, and the anger that wells up inside me when I hear or see a young person being bullied and teased is indescribable. Teachers, if you can’t care for each of your students for who they are, and not what you think they should be, please consider getting some counsel about this. You have enormous power. Use it to influence and build up students.

  74. Melvyn Gillette on 16.03.2012 at 17:53 (Reply)

    I have a December birthday, but luckily for me attended school in a 2-room country school through 8th grade. I was outspoken, always had speeches to say in school programs. I and a classmate born in October went through 2nd and 3rd grade in the same year. That meant we were now younger than our classmates. So we started 9th grade at the high school in town, with lots of new people, plus we were younger than our classmates. My mouth closed. I seldom if ever volunteered to speak, but some teachers were understanding and called on me at which time I did speak. I graduated at age 16 and went away to college. There I never raised my hand or volunteered a question or comment, except in one situation where we were REQUIRED to ask a question. I graduated college and moved to California. Looking for a job was misery for me, I sweated bullets in interviews, finally got a job where I stayed for more than 30 years. I actually volunteered to teach some specialty classes at that job. I still am not the most outgoing person when I first meet people, but it’s hard to close my mouth once I know you………..

  75. John W on 16.03.2012 at 17:57 (Reply)

    Teachers are mostly grown up kids who liked school and have never been out of school. They go through k-12, then to college, then back to the classroom as teachers. They favor their students who are most like them; juvenile-stage teachers. Everyone else is pretty bored by school.

  76. Kim on 16.03.2012 at 18:18 (Reply)

    I suffered greatly in my 20′s due to my introverted nature. High school and college, as they were in the 80′s, suited me pretty well, as we were expected to quietly take notes and write papers and tests. My problems came more in the workforce, especially where I had a sort of “sales” or customer service job. But school was great for introverts-back then.

    Today, that would no longer be the case. As a teacher who has taken numerous ed courses and professional development seminars, I can tell you that the ONLY way children learn today is by ARGUING and DISCUSSING everything. I have been told that repeatedly. The college ed courses are now run that way. I almost had a conniption when I had to DISCUSS IN A GROUP the signs of ADHD or the qualities of good writers. Umm, like I couldn’t just write that down myself? Like every teacher doesn’t pretty much know that kids with ADHD fidget a lot or that good writers self-edit their work? Or better yet, like the teacher couldn’t just acknowledge that, and teach us something new? But it got worse.

    I had to tutor a disabled girl with the preferred reading method, which involved discussing everything. She was very shy and had a speech impediment and felt very uncomfortable verbally asking questions, even to a kind tutor like myself. I criticized this method as being bad for introverted students and “failed” the class (a B-actually below the minimum accepted grade in this program). I dropped out.

    So it’s not the teachers’ faults. They are being fed a lot of theory that favors extroverts tremendously. Interestingly, in my experience, extreme extroverted kids are often somewhat ADHD or defiant and usually won’t participate in all these discussions, either. They try to talk about what they want to talk about and become discipline problems.

  77. Terri on 16.03.2012 at 18:21 (Reply)

    I am late getting into this discussion, but as an introvert and a recently retired teacher, I must weigh in. I had to learn to out forth the persona of an extrovert in order to do my job, to which I was firmly and whole-heartedly committed. I found the introverts in my classroom delightful. I made a point to talk to them privately early in the school year, them lure them out of their protective shell as the year progressed. These young often people embody the saying, “still waters run deep.” It was always my greatest joy when I could publicly acknowledge one of the “under-cover kids” as sharing great insight into a particular piece of literature.

    Earlier posters who lump all teachers together as self-selected extroverts do not understand the complex nature of the teaching profession. In teaching, as in other occupations, it takes all kinds.

  78. George on 16.03.2012 at 18:35 (Reply)

    I was shy and introverted in Jr High and High School. I seldom gave oral reports or said anything in classes. but always did my home work and scored high on tests. I was the only Native American in the high school and was superior in sports programs. However I was singled out on ocassion to be accused of cheating on tests whereas my teachers seemed to feel that I must have cheated to score highly on tests, some times the only one who had perfect scores. I would be called in to the pricipals office with my parent and grilled relentlessly as how I scored so high on tests. My mother would defend me against the accusations. I could only see the reasons for the system to accuse me of cheating as being prejuduce toward minorities. Some of my all white instructors used the term Injun, red skin and wagon burners..Other called me Wam-pum or Chief…

  79. suzie q on 16.03.2012 at 18:37 (Reply)

    Understanding that shyness and introversion are not the same thing, it is difficult to realize that you were granted by nature 2 separate socially hindering qualities. Quite honestly, I would have preferred if teachers would have left me alone rather than constantly trying to drag me out of my “shell.” It became humiliating. While studying to be a teacher, I was taught to make all students take a turn answering aloud. 8 years later, I still refuse. People can speak if they choose, and only if they choose; and if the boisterous majority is offended by it, tough.

  80. Robin on 16.03.2012 at 18:40 (Reply)

    I have long believed many people become teachers because they know they are too obnoxious to survive in the adult world. I believe teachers should have to undergo SERIOUS

  81. Robin on 16.03.2012 at 18:45 (Reply)

    psychological screening before they are intrusted with precious children. Hopefully, most have moved beyond the point of demonizing left handed children, or punishing the dyslexic but I know there are many who have no compassion for those who don’t fit in their little mold of what is perfect. Besides imparting knowledge adults in charge of children should be nurturing respect, understanding, and EVEN kindness for the success of our future society.

  82. joseph lacicero on 16.03.2012 at 19:02 (Reply)

    THE ISSUE IS CHARACTER…

    As I read several of these comments, I am reminded of the “Revenge of the Nerds”. It is the ficticious story of “unique” people running into resistence from “normal” people. Most of the movie almost makes a case for feeling sorry for the nerds. They were so helpless. They were victims. They never stood up for themselves.

    The final scene changed that. The scene shows the athletes looking down at the nerds as the nerds attempt to validate their existence.

    Even though it was a comedy it was not completely ficticious. I liked that scene because the nerds took a stand. They showed character and strength. They were not going to be adversely affected by resistence.

    The true issue is not to dwell upon one’s personal issues but to focus on one’s character. People in education always forget that. Character determines how one faces the challenges of resistence.

    A case in point is the bully issue. Few teachers have explained to children that there will always be bullies! The reason is that many teachers refuse to live in a challenging world where there is resistence!

    Anyway, this was a typical “feel good” education article but if I missed the point on character….please accept my apology.

    JM LaCicero

  83. joseph lacicero on 16.03.2012 at 19:04 (Reply)

    Susan,

    Please submit articles to my email if you write about character. It would be fun to share ideas with you.

    JM LaCicero

  84. Conor on 16.03.2012 at 19:13 (Reply)

    Holy cow. I was an introvert but it if you’re still hung up on how bad high school was decades later, then I think the problems run deeper than people not understanding introversion. It’s awkward, but temporary.

    Then again, thanks to the eye-opening properties of psychedelic experimentation, I got over being a painfully shy introvert. Something about a heroic dose of psilocybin can really open your eyes to the fact that most of those people you were terrified of embarrassing yourself in front of are morons not worth the stress, and the ones that aren’t were never going to laugh at you anyway! Once you realize how much more of the world you see than the petty folks that tried to make you miserable, the fear goes away and it becomes a whole lot easier to speak up.

  85. joseph lacicero on 16.03.2012 at 19:28 (Reply)

    After pressing the submit button, I realized that I incorrected spelled “resistance”.

    Just a note: before you criticize, please review the message. Thanks.

    JM LaCicero

  86. Brad R on 16.03.2012 at 19:41 (Reply)

    This woman is a f**king idiot. I was a pretty quiet kid in school. I didn’t picked on or anything. I ran cross country and track and had many friends. I just didn’t feel like talking in some classes I didn’t like, especially with a b!tch like that teaching.

  87. Il Lupone on 16.03.2012 at 19:48 (Reply)

    Fifty years ago, I attended a public high school in a major US city. For most of the time, I was not very happy. It seems that I wasn’t one of the “cool” and “popular” kids. I was introverted and socially awkward, yet some of the teachers were fond of me because I did well in my studies. Fortunately, in our large school there were other kids like me, and we got together and even had a certain table where we sat in the lunchroom. There, we discussed history, philosophy, literature, linguistics, classical music, and other stuff we liked. We didn’t know what the “jocks” and popular kids talked about, and we didn’t much care. They seemed to exist in a separate universe. As I said, some of the teachers were sympathetic to kids like us, and others weren’t. Some were so shallow and thick that I often wondered how they got their licenses. Anyway, we got through and went on to universities and careers. It could have been worse, I guess!

    Some observations: There are different reason why kids are quiet in school. Some, like me, are introverted and/or shy and/or socially awkward. We mean no harm, really, and there is no reason for anyone, teachers or students, to persecute us. Then there are those who are just apathetic, while others are sullen and defiant. The adept teacher should know how to tell the difference. At the far end of the spectrum is the silent, angry kid who one day shows up with a deadly weapon and inflicts terrible harm. “We should have seen it coming!” True, but who was paying attention? A really good teacher doesn’t berate the quiet kids but gently, tactfully tries to befriend them and draw them out, one at a time. That’s a tall order, but it’s worth it.

    Then how do we live the rest of our lives? I once scored 96% “introvert” on a personality test. After years of isolation and failed relationships, I went to a psychotherapist and got some insights into my personality. That didn’t magically turn me into an extrovert but I did develop some adaptive behaviors. I studied acting and public speaking and am now comfortable doing both; so today, with my clients I can be that warm, funny, likable guy. But, guess what, that’s a character I play, not truly and totally me. At parties I still stand in the corner, focus on eating the canapes, and stare nervously at the clock. Do I have perhaps some kind of creative schizophrenia? I would hate to think so, but in any case doing what I do this way keeps me employed. Life isn’t perfect, but it’s still good . . .

  88. Ali H on 16.03.2012 at 20:18 (Reply)

    I’m a teacher, and I love my introverts-and I am certainly not one of them. However, I appreciate their quiet humor, their slight smile when they get one my jokes and sell-confidence to be themselves. True introverts would rather be by themselves.

    I didn’t always understand this. My best friend is an introvert. When we were in middle and high school, I was always trying to help her “break out of her shell.” I don’t know when I realized it, but at some point I realized that she is super-happy.

    I think that this teacher is a stand-out bad example, an outlier if you will. As Americans, we hear more about the extroverted because they are out their being loud. The introverts are happy doing their own thing.

    The problem is that some of extroverts see introverts as people who are shy and/or have low self-esteem that actually want to be extroverted. This isn’t the case.

    Great teachers make connections with all their students, and then help their students be who THEY want to be.

  89. LisaTeachesTech on 16.03.2012 at 20:19 (Reply)

    I have the feeling that with tech integration, the students aren’t considered introverts, shy, or non-participating. Students participate using LANschool instant messaging when we’re in the computer lab. (They can ask for help without being embarrassed, or I can ask a question for all students to answer, and they type it into the form and add to the discussion. Clickers do this as well if you’re not in a 1:1 computer setting.) We also use Twitter in the classroom, so students can keep the discussion going. The best thing about students using technology in the classroom is that they don’t have to participate with speaking unless they choose to do so - they can use other media (Glogster, Prezi, Photoshop, Vimeo, etc.) to share their creativity, thoughts, and abilities.

  90. Daily Kenn on 16.03.2012 at 20:19 (Reply)

    Introverts tend to be bullied and are often stricken with depression as adults. A few commit suicide.

  91. Ali H on 16.03.2012 at 20:19 (Reply)

    *out “there,” not “their,” being loud

  92. HH on 16.03.2012 at 20:26 (Reply)

    Yeah - there is NOTHING wrong with being an introvert. Hey, teachers - everybody DOESN’T have to “be a leader.” It doesn’t mean we’re lazy or unmotivated. Some of us don’t want to lead OR follow. Quit trying to change us and start accepting us. If you want to know what we’re thinking, try asking - and don’t shoot us down when we tell you.

  93. John on 16.03.2012 at 21:38 (Reply)

    I was extremely quiet as a kid. I’ve gotten better, but the school system didn’t help. I had some health issues when I was really young and grew up in a below the poverty line family with an alcoholic father and an almost recovered (but not quite) stroke victim mother. I blamed myself for the issues with both, and to distract myself from that and the constant fighting in the house I read and worked on computers (once I managed to dig enough parts out of a school dumpster to build one).

    In school I wasn’t comfortable talking to people. I didn’t have the social foundation with my family, so it was hard to adapt. Rather than help me overcome my issues, some of the instructors bullied me more than the kids. When the kids (usually large groups of older students) bullied me I tended to get written up as a troublemaker, regardless of the context. At one point the principle basically told my parents that I wasn’t right in the head and needed to go to a psychologist or the school staff would make my life hell. They also took me outside of class for what they called advanced placement testing, but it was actually IQ testing to backup their theory that I was screwed up. Since this was done secretly they didn’t record that I actually had a high IQ with no abnormalities. I didn’t find out about that for a long time.

    So while I might have turned out alright if I had someone to help me through it, I was treated in such a way that convinced me that I was made wrong. There was something not right about me. That psychologist didn’t help, not with the school’s input and misidentified issues. I learned not to trust authority figures and that I didn’t deserve social ties. I’m convinced now that my treatment- which went quite a bit beyond this, but I don’t want to sound like I’m whining - comes from the same ideas discussed here. I’m 24 now, married, and finally starting to recover from how all those people in my life made my issues worse. I spend a lot more time than I’d like thinking about the possibilities of what I could have accomplished if a few things were done differently.

    Certainly other people have it harder and I’m not trying to say my life was terrible, but it would have been nice to be understood and treated like a valuable member of society.

  94. Stephen Coen on 16.03.2012 at 21:42 (Reply)

    Let’s not forget that most government schools are mind-numbingly boring, cramming, as they do, about 2 hours of instruction into a 7 hour school day.

    The problem is not the quiet, unengaged student who has no interest in yet another bout of “learning,” by rote, easy already mastered materials. The problem is the bloated, centrally controlled, grossly overfunded educational bureaucracy.

  95. John on 16.03.2012 at 21:43 (Reply)

    On another note, I found this through a link in my local newspaper. I’d never seen someone write about the topic before, and reading the comments just made my day a lot better since it seems I’m not alone with this.

  96. Fred on 16.03.2012 at 22:03 (Reply)

    I can not believe this post! I love it! I am an introverted person, and I was that way since I could think. The best thing you can do for the introvert is to leave him or her alone! There’s is nothing wrong with them. They are extremely smart, and I’m willing to bet they are the smartest when compared to extroverts. The reason that some think that we have no personality is that we don’t think your $@*t is funny. We are not humoured by whatever you are saying. I remember sitting in class understanding what the teacher said immediately while the extroverts needed more and more repition to get things across. The article says that the best “students” are extroverts, that is a bunch of crap. You see, what they are really saying is that the best students are those that are most like robots that will give verbatim what the teacher has tought. We introverts are thinking about what “you” are really saying. What is the teacher not telling us?, why does the teacher want to teach this?, Does this really matter? “oh I see, the teacher has given us these things to do so that he can kick back”, these are some of the things we are thinking. We are also thinking, “great the teacher thinks she is funny, telling us that stupid joke.” I remember thinking “wow these teacher tell all the kids to stop talking”. I better not talk. Then they would ask me to talk, or ask my parents about why I was so quiet. Most of the time I refused to talk, just so that they day would pass by more quickly. It takes time to talk and ask questions and for teachers to respond. We are extremely intellegent. It is work to put on an extroverted act. It is work. Most of these things I remember were in the 4th and 5th grades. We are extremely independent. Introverts are extremely successful and so we must be social. Here are some more thoughts. I remember thinking “don’t waste my time talking about last weekend, just teach me what I need to know”. Shyness IS. It will not go away. To the idiot teacher who wrote this ……It doesn’t matter your opinion of 11th grade shyness. Deal with it, or go find out how you should cope with it from your psychiatrist. For the love of all holy, please! don’t put a movie on for kids to watch. If that’s what you call teaching, shame on you. If you are going to put on a movie send them home! Have them do other things to really learn. To rely on hollywood is complete insanity. I love being introverted and people like Einstein or Bill Gates are more introverted than extroverted. Personalities are a mesh, not always extremes.

  97. .Karen on 16.03.2012 at 22:12 (Reply)

    I am a teacher, and I prefer the introverts. They are well behaved, do their assignments, and don’t cause distractions that keep other students from learning.

  98. Mike Grover on 16.03.2012 at 22:26 (Reply)

    I am so tired of people crying about another persons thoughts, feelings or words. It is this sort of nonsense that is stealing our rights from us. CRY,CRY,CRY! I am an American and have every right to say and feel what I choose. Did this teacher name names? NO! Did she say anything to the students? NO! So, I say FUCK OFF!

  99. Alexis on 16.03.2012 at 22:32 (Reply)

    I was a quiet kid in school. I recently read some of my school records. I was nominated for Gifted and Talented several times in middle and high school. However, I never got accepted to the program due to my shyness. Teachers wrote comments constantly about how I was hampered by my “extreme shyness.” Hampered??? I was just bored and annoyed by students who couldn’t internalize a single thought. I turned out to be the valedictorian of my class. Got a full scholarship to college. And became a college professor by the age of 30…tell me I’m hampered by being an introvert :-)

  100. Daniel on 16.03.2012 at 22:41 (Reply)

    Kate,

    So true. I am a teacher and am also introverted by nature. I had to learn to play the “extrovert” in class. I didn’t feel comfortable playing that role for the first five years or so. But in my case, it was do or die from a classroom management standpoint. Now after sixteen years of teaching, none of my students believe me when I say I’m an introvert, but my friends and family know better.

  101. Amber on 16.03.2012 at 23:01 (Reply)

    I wish I had read this article many years ago when I was in high school. It certainly would have saved me a lot of grief. Even in high school, I was actually pretty happy with who I was, but could never understand the “helpful advice” of others that I needed to be more outgoing, which was and still is very much against my introverted nature.

    I love your analogy and it really sums up my high school experience “… no understanding of how poor a fit the typical American high school can be for introverts — like an all-day cocktail party without any alcohol.”

    Excellent blog and a great service to all of us introverts struggling in a very extrovert world.

  102. justinn on 16.03.2012 at 23:41 (Reply)

    Well one time i was in a class with a lot of out of control loud students and i was just sitting there quiet the whole sememster and the teacher said i wish everyone was like you and i know for a fact i failed that end of course exam but somehow i got a 91 on it haha sometimes being quiet has its benefits

  103. William on 16.03.2012 at 23:47 (Reply)

    I grew up on a small Montana ranch were we went to a one room school until the 8th grade. Even with only a dozen kids in the school I always found it was hard to share in front of others. However i really loved school especially math and science. Could not learn enough and was always getting in trouble for staying after school to talk to our teacher bugging him to help me find books on both.
    However in the 9th grade we had to go to town for high school. Our english litature teacher required you to stand in front of the class and read what you wrote. I remember going to her after class and almost begging her not to force me to. That I could not. No go. The next day when I tried to and literally found my self unable to speak she gave me an F and all the other kids laughed at me for it.
    I never set foot in a school agian. That was 1960. please don’t make shy kids talk in class if they can’t.

  104. Denise on 17.03.2012 at 00:00 (Reply)

    I stumbled upon this post and it’s title caught my attention. I’m hoping to get some opinions from the many teachers/professionals reading/posting here. I am the mother of a very extroverted kindergartener. He has been having “behavior problems” since the first week of school. I don’t want to take up pages of space giving all the details so I will try to summarize. He gets in trouble for talking too much. My son has always been very outgoing and social and makes friends wherever he goes-usually with older children or adults. He speaks in a very mature manner and is sometimes offended when reminded that he is (just) a child. People are drawn to him and his personality. However, I feel like this teacher is annoyed by him and is nit-picking every little thing he does. He is often the only child in a class of 18 that comes home “on red”. The reasons given for disciplinary actions are: disrupting class by talking out of turn, talking in line, fidgeting during carpet time, etc. One issue of conflict that I have with the teacher’s methodology is the “tattle tale”. She has a no questions asked policy. If someone tattles-the offending party is sent to time out. In my house, I don’t participate in this form of “bullying” and I have expressed that to her. My son does not “tattle” even when he probably should. She has accused him several times of being untruthful (which is the complete opposite of how he is at home)and often dismisses his “side” of an issue because the other student involved is a “very sweet little boy/girl”. He spends so much time segregated from the class that children have started to avoid socializing with him. I have been on her side from the beginning-trying any suggestions or recommendations she may have to help him be more compliant (her word-not mine). For the last couple of months I’ve noticed my outgoing, confident, little man turn into an insecure, anxious, easily angered child. His pediatrician actually said he is showing signs of anxiety disorder! I’m worried that I’ve put so much effort into trying not to be the parent that blames the teacher and supporting her without question that I’m worried my son feels abandoned or something-because I’m not on his side. So my question to anyone reading this is: are you sure teachers prefer extroverted children? My little extrovert is suffering and I need to help him!

  105. Lacey on 17.03.2012 at 00:01 (Reply)

    I was and still am a painfully shy person, especially in social situations, like a classroom. I had mostly wonderful, understanding teachers, like my Speech teacher, who wouldn’t make me do my speech in front of the class, but would let me do it after class, or just turn it in and get graded as if I had gotten in front of the class. My English teacher my senior year was the same way. I had transferred to a new school then, so I was extra afraid to get in front of the class. Hell, I ran off stage crying during the Spelling Bee in 1st grade because I was afraid to speak and spell the word. The only time I’ve ever done anything in front of people was in 2nd grade during a Disney themed play we performed, and I used to do solos at our band concerts in high school. But, I was always a great student, made A’s and B’s, but I never really worried about what my teachers thought of me never willingly participating in discussions or answering questions willingly, unless called on. And even then, it would embarrass me and I’d get flustered. I’m SO happy I found this blog entry!

  106. Justin on 17.03.2012 at 00:02 (Reply)

    I was one of those introverts, remembered as a quiet ROTC kid who participated in extra-curricular activites but stayed at home reading rather than going out and getting into trouble. You have two ears and one mouth for a reason, most people just talk and are thinking about what they are going to say next without listening to what others really have to say. Online courses were perfect for me because I could take the time to formulate responses to other people’s thoughts rather than blurting out the first thing I came up with in a traditional classroom setting.

    That said, I am a teacher now and do not know how to stop talking and engaging students to get them to think and contribute, something I wish teachers had done more of in my day.

  107. randy on 17.03.2012 at 00:09 (Reply)

    How on Earth did J.K. Rowling make it on the same list with “great thinkers” - even Spielberg hs no business on there

  108. Dom on 17.03.2012 at 00:53 (Reply)

    I was an introvert.

    High school was like a four year prison bid.

    and that’s all I have to say about that.

  109. Dave on 17.03.2012 at 01:01 (Reply)

    I started first grade as a seven year old, which was one of the few advantages I had over my classmates. Dealing with an excessively introverted student with a learning disability was a real adventure for all concerned. That first year I was an ace in math and science but failed miserably with grammar, spelling, and social studies. I begged my parents to try something else and, not being adverse to risk, they agreed to try homeschooling for one year given that private school was too expensive for a lower middle class family of five on one income. What followed were eleven years of homeschooling and some of the most rewarding experiences of my life. During those years, I developed ways to compensate for my learning disability and overcome the limitations of being an introvert.

    PS. I graduate in May with an M.S. in nuclear engineering.

  110. Lynn on 17.03.2012 at 01:02 (Reply)

    I am an extrovert and my husband is an introvert. We have four children, two of whom are very shy, introverted students. My oldest is very much an extrovert, and it remains to be seen with my youngest who is not yet in school. My two middle children are amazing people and wonderful, intelligent students, and it angers me when I hear criticism of their personalities and natural tendencies. I am very concerned for my third child, a ten year old boy, and how he may be treated and perceived by teachers and fellow students. He is extremely shy and tongue-tied when it comes to speaking in public. Many times, he has shared his frustration when he is ready to answer, but the extroverts make it impossible. Thank you so much for writing this, as it was very helpful to me.

    Funny story….while at parent-teacher conferences for my straight-A eighth grade daughter, I stopped by her honors math teacher’s station to see what she wanted to tell me. This is almost a direct quote: “She’s doing great. I really don’t have anything to say. Ummm….actually, I will probably mark her down a little if she doesn’t start to participate more in class.” I asked, “How would you like her to participate more? Is she unwilling to answer your questions?” Her response was ridiculous: “Oh, she’ll answer questions, and she understands the material, but I’d like her to SHARE more in class.” It’s MATH! What in the world is she supposed to open up and share with everyone in a MATH class?

  111. Ce LA on 17.03.2012 at 01:59 (Reply)

    good article…I’ve always been an introverted and I consider myself a deep thinker - always thinking about every vintage point on any issue - but I’ve learned to understand as well that my voice matters and if I don’t speak up I won’t be heard.

    It has hurt me a bit socially and professionaly because I wont just say anything right off the bat to answer a question to a topic I have not put a lot of thought in but I have earned a lot of respect because I don’t bs when I am not joking - although I must disclose that I am not a comedian and that’s one reason why I’ve not left my day job.

    I think in my own personal experience, shyness is rooted out of fear of reprisal or unacceptance for speaking one’s personal thoughts and not going with the flow. But its linked to introversion, because we like to think a bit more about our thoughts on any matter before we give any answer. Shyness does not equal introversion…

  112. Amber on 17.03.2012 at 02:05 (Reply)

    I am an extremely introverted person (still in high school) who at times was so quiet that several teachers had accidentally marked me as absent just because they didn’t notice me in the class at all.
    High school (as far as I can tell) is always rough on introverted people and if it wasn’t for my best friends and several amazing teachers, I probably wouldn’t be here to post this. I think one of the only other things that has saved me is my artwork and poetry, through which I can forget about all my problems if only for a small moment.
    As far as the class participation grades goes, I have failed one class and barely passed two others due to teachers believing that you must participate in class discussions to learn something.

  113. Kathryn on 17.03.2012 at 04:04 (Reply)

    I am still surprised how little we accept or at least tolerate each other’s uniqueness.

    On another note, Ward you don’t think a creative story writer is not a great thinker?

  114. A. R. on 17.03.2012 at 04:42 (Reply)

    I was an introvert,especially in high school. Yes I had teachers who misunderstood my “quietness”. They didn’t know that I was thinking about the stress we were facing at home. The mentally ill mother who could not support us financially. The angry father who abandoned us and showed more concern for his own brothers and sister than our trivial needs for a peaceful,loving home with encouraging parents. Thinking mostly about how to pay the bills with our meager paychecks working 2 jobs in highschool to put a roof over the heads of my sisters and mother. Just trying so hard to forget my burdens and focus my attention on what was being taught was difficult enough. Unable to relate to the high functioning peers around me was also difficult. I was quiet but put all my effort in obtaining the highest grades I could because that was all the control I had in my life! My “Speech” and “Physics” classes were the most difficult since the expectations were much higher. The other children in class came mostly from middle to high income homes with great support from their parents, were articulate and extroverts and openly verbalized their disdain of my poorly performed “speeches”. My only support was approval from my teachers. This is why I was quiet to avoid negative attention. I am now a nurse with a successful career,proud of the fact that I did not deviate from my goals but quietly reached it,still climbing to reach higher goals (quietly)!

  115. Kimberly Bachmann on 17.03.2012 at 04:45 (Reply)

    I am a teacher and I believe the problem is that as a “system” we decide what kind of child will be successful and with what skills. Common standards and lots of testing drives out individuality. Even teacher evaluations require us to “engage” (usually interpreted as make all students speak out in class.) I think we need to support individual students and their individual talents. In my opinion, my job is to help children be the best versions of themselves. Students do need to learn to step out of their boxes a bit (extroverts should know how to sit back and listen when needed and introverts should know how to speak up when needed) but I think students should be able to express their knowledge in ways that are comfortable for them. There are some horrible teachers out there because teachers come from the public at large and there are some horrible people out there. However, I think you will find that most good teachers appreciate the differences in our students and wish that our system would do that as well.

  116. that student on 17.03.2012 at 06:34 (Reply)

    Hello About the shy students I was one. I was one of those who literally had to study, Got out of school and as soon as I got home hit the books till bed time. I studied so hard just to keep my grades up and Felt Misserable when I would Fail a test which was often. My school never offered me a study haul till my 11th grade, Where my study haul teacher helped me. She was very kind and helpful. My report card was always between C’s and F’s, But with her help my 11th grade year was one of my best where I had A’s and B’s. After 11th grade I sure though my senior year I challenged myself so did everybody else that I would be number 1 student when I graduated with this teachers help. I dont know what happned but she was no longer teaching my senior year No clue if she was fired or what but my grades were like they always were. I was so nervious and afraid I wasn’t going to graduate with my class. So afraid when it came to my last test which was Biology and we all know how that was back then. I barely made the grade by 2 points of failing my senior year. I was literally in tears my last day because I finally made it. Yea I wish schools would really look into helping students like me, This was 11 years ago. I have 2 younger friends who couldn’t make the grade and basically quit school. I just wish everybody had a teacher that would help. I know of one teacher. She was an algebra teacher who hated sports beliving sports should not be a part of school. She was go over todays lesson on the board and before we were confident we knew how to do it, SHe would give a 5 question quizz on that. I failed so did everybody else. Then the lucky students who were into sports -me. If their grade went below some average they couldn’t play. So thats why she did those 5 question quizzes. Yea its not a teacher problem in schools. Its literally Everybodys problems we need to remind ouselves just who we are and what actions needs to be taken place. I had no friends in school. I couldn’t go out and enjoy myself. My average day to talk with friends was my lunch. The rest was kept in books. If you see somebody strugling at least lend them a hand trust me It would make their day so much better.

  117. Daniel on 17.03.2012 at 07:02 (Reply)

    I am a “Chameleon” and adapt to the situation. I believe that my tendancy is to be an introvert but to be successful in the business world often requires extroversion. In one job that lasted 18 years I was thought of as the wise old sage that didn’t speak up often, but when I did something profound tended to come out. When told this I realized that what was happening was that 9 out of 10 times the comments being made by others were usually of a common sense nature, and I had thought of them too, but my introversion slowed my response time. I usually ended up listening to comments that were in line with what I was thinking. Only when others hadn’t thought of the same thing as I, did I end up having my voice heard. It’s funny how introversion can mimic brilliance.

  118. paul on 17.03.2012 at 07:21 (Reply)

    A lot of the mind set for me dealt with the lack of real concern one way or the other from my parents who seemed to be too involved with their lives as far as whether I was on honor roll or failing,. didn’t seem to matter…hnmmm? but then again I am looking from a perpspective of a child…..

  119. rs1201 on 17.03.2012 at 07:31 (Reply)

    I was an introvert up until I was into my 20s. I was painfully shy and sometimes would never say a word all day while in class or outside of class. I just observed and thought…and thought about everything and anything around me. Both teachers and kids liked me and were very protective of me and that sort of reinforced the idea that it was totally OK to be the way I was. I was just a quiet, very pretty young girl always impeccably dressed and groomed. My demeanor and quiet manner did not stop me from excelling in school. I was placed in the second half of the 9th grade at 11.5 and proceeded to graduate from high school 3 months short of my 15th birthday.I entered college and found that I excelled in math and chemistry…both sciences that required a lot of alone time with the books and suited my personality very well. I graduated and went on to a doctoral program in biochemistry. I completed all the coursework and was just starting my research when I met someone, got married and had my first child.I was awarded a masters degree for all the work that I had done and my advisor extracted a promise from me that I would return to get my PhD. I never did. I concentrated on raising my two sons who are now extremely accomplished in their own fields…one a prominent attorney and the other one an MD/PhD surgeon. I joined the work force when an ophthalmologist I was seeing for an eye problem asked me what I did with my time. My answer “nothing…I’m raising my two sons” infuriated him. He literally ordered me to either go back to school and get my PhD or get a job in academia or in the pharmaceutical industry.I did both. I worked in the research division of an Ivy league medical school for over a decade and was the first person without a PhD to be appointed to the faculty of the biochemistry dept of that school. I was recruited by the R&D division of a pharmaceutical company and after 20 years at that company…I’m now getting ready to retire. So, that little girl who never opened her mouth and stayed in the background at all times…accomplished much more than most of the other kids who were the preferred “extroverts”.

  120. Donna on 17.03.2012 at 07:53 (Reply)

    An earlier post suggested that teachers are self-selected extroverts. Perhaps for younger years-I cannot say. But College and University professors are largely introverts who preferred researching in their subjects in an advanced way, and for most of us, I dare say we had to learn to be extroverts to survive speaking to hundreds of people at once every semester. Students panic over public speaking and presentations; they have no idea that sometimes their professors do the same thing. Depending on my mood, this can strike on any day as I walk to the classroom. But I love my subject, and I shake it off and “perform”-I become an actor on a stage, and I am lively and excited. My students wrongly think that I am an extrovert and that it is easy for me, that it comes naturally.
    Thus, I think a lot of this conversation is asking and thinking about the wrong issues. Who we are and what we prefer are different from what life and work require of us at times, and we need the skills to be and do many diverse things, even if these are not preferences.
    We need each other, yes. But in a learning setting, we need the extroverts to develop the ability to be silent and listen, and we need the introverts to speak up and prove they have something going on inside their heads. I sometimes have students who do not differ much from the chair they are sitting in: introverted engagement and extroverted disengagement look pretty much the same from the front of the room. The worst kind of education happens when the teacher just pours out a lecture to the silent, passive, bored-looking student. I challenge students to speak up because I know they need this skill in life. At whatever their job-even to get a job-they will need to make eye contact and speak their opinions out loud in front of others. College is a good safe place to practice this skill. And it is important for them to distinguish themselves as thinkers and readers, as achievers in some way. I learned this lesson in high school when I asked for a recommendation for a scholarship. My teacher didn’t remember me because I had sat in class, mutely getting a good grade. He looked in his record book and found me, but he had nothing to say about me. I was an invisible A. I learned that lesson and began working on myself….even if I approached the teacher after class and made a comment or asked my question quietly after class, it was a start. My job now requires me to meet strangers and glad hand and network and recruit. I would rather do anything else, but I am good at it. Conquering fears and meeting challenges outside the cliched ‘comfort zone’ is one of the best ways to build confidence…at ANY age. The extrovert and the introvert just have different fears and different starting points. Both need to acquire social graces and skills-and some of these skills are self-control and self-determination. Just because we are born with a tendency or inhibition, does not mean we are frozen for life.

  121. Steve on 17.03.2012 at 08:12 (Reply)

    My wife and I are like that. Extroverts by day, (exhausted) introverts by night. People are surprised when they see my real life away from the college classroom. I tell them that I only play an extrovert on TV.

    I also think that teachers tend to subonsciously praise and reward students that are like them. While that works for those studying hard, we have to be careful not to penalize students who are different - for just being different.

  122. D.G. on 17.03.2012 at 08:13 (Reply)

    Sadly, most (not all) teachers are classic underachievers. From kindergarten through graduate school I was fortunate to learn from some truly great teachers, but their number is few and can be counted on one hand. The great ones taught me to think, and were not so concerned about either my personality or my willingness to parrott back whatever they happened to say on any given day. When I disagreed with them, they challenged my thinking, forcing me to defend my ideas. These few even allowed their own thinking to be challenged and changed by their students. Munro is unfortnately more typical, likely the product of one of our schools of education that focus on everything but true education.

  123. Good Blog Post Example | Lewis University's Art of Blogging on 17.03.2012 at 08:52

    [...] is an interesting blog post called “What Do Teachers Really Think of Quiet Students?” by Susan [...]

  124. Fox on 17.03.2012 at 08:58 (Reply)

    I’m glad to read that you have such a good handle on this situation. When I was in HS, introverted kids were treated like inferiors. The attitude of most,(though not all) of the teachers was that if you wern’t outgoing, aggressive and athletic, there was something defective about you, and you were treated as such. I was one of those, and I hated HS. To this day, I hate athletics. I was forced to play in “games” I couldn’t excell at, then belittled when I didn’t. At 65 years old, I’ve never been to a class reunion, and never will go to one. It’s a chapter of my life I’d just as soon forget, though I never will.

  125. Mala Sangre on 17.03.2012 at 09:04 (Reply)

    sure they want the kid to be extroverted until Jr. points out a mistake or tells them they aren’t there to be talked down too etc,

  126. N. Barnes on 17.03.2012 at 09:08 (Reply)

    How does the saying go? If you want people to think your intelligent its better to keep your mouth shut than to open it and remove all doubt. One of my daughter’s teacher downgraded her because she didn’t participate in class. I asked her my daughter about this and she said “Mom all the questions that needed to be asked had already been asked, there was nothing left to discuss.” Picking on an introverted child illustrates the state of our education system. Perhaps if they discussed something intelligent then the intelligent would have something to discuss.

  127. Dan Trout on 17.03.2012 at 09:16 (Reply)

    The truth is, it’s the teachers job to help these students. I was an introvert most of high school, but I had great teachers who cared about me and help me get past my fears and hangups. Now I am doing the same thing, helping my students see that high school can be very rewarding and a very important time of their lives. Getting them to participate and seeing them mature into adults is what teaching is all about. This teacher needs to find a new job, because she doesn’t have what it takes!

    1. sonata on 26.03.2012 at 01:52 (Reply)

      By “help these students,” it is implied that there is something wrong that needs repair. Not so. It was my observation that my daughter could have helped those teachers if they had been interested. She was often criticized for her quietness — “withdrawn!” She suffered disapproval for her need for silence and solitude — “doesn’t interact with the others!” And on and on. She didn’t need help, she needed to be herself. She has good friends, she was diligent about her work, she played hard at recess. It wasn’t a problem at home. Like me, she will have to find work that suits her. So does everyone.

  128. Natalia on 17.03.2012 at 09:39 (Reply)

    I remember in High School, which was a little more than 2 years now that I have Graduated. Speech class was a requirement and I waited until the last moment as a senior to complete the credit. I did not mind the class at first, the teacher was amazing and kind. She did not focus on your nervousness or your lack of confidence while speaking in font of some of your unkind peers. She found out what we were interested in and what we would be willing to talk about while putting ourselves into the spotlight. I am an introvert, painfully shy during elementary school years and was made fun of for it. I learned to adapt in order to fit in to a loud socialization environment such as High School. Everyone from middle school on knew me as talkative and well extroverted. Anyways, I didn’t mind speech until my schedule was changed for no reason other than this amazing teacher’s classes were too full and they were downsizing. -+

    1. Natalia on 17.03.2012 at 11:55 (Reply)

      Posted the comment before I could get to the point, sorry everyone! Well to continue, the speech teacher I was switched to was originally the dance coach and gotten fired but was still allowed to teach other classes, doesn’t make sense but it was allowed. She was vain, ignorant and she knew what embarrassed her students and made sure that everyone else knew too. Like I said I was an introvert, I was also slightly heavy(150lbs) but I loved the way I looked and didn’t care. My new speech teacher knew this. So whenever we had to read a paper aloud standing in font of our peers she would intentional mention my weight, just before I started my speech. “Hmm, those pants are not as tight as they were last week, have you lost weight?” is just one of many comments that have affected me. Thus hurting my feelings and causing my introversion to show. I would immediately start stuttering, look at the ground because I was so upset, every time I read anything aloud I would be embarrassed by someone you are supposed to trust. I know she he did not do this to teach us or as a lesson because she singled certain people out. I was not a prep or into cheer leading, dance or sports and those were the people that did not even have to finish assignments let alone be harassed.

  129. Musica53 on 17.03.2012 at 12:18 (Reply)

    Hello. I am mostly an introvert by nature in my private life. However as a teacher of 36 years, I have learned to be an extrovert. I chose to teach a subject that has been my lifelong passion…..music. (Perhaps that passion for an “expressive” subject, drew me in and keeps me going each day when I meet with my students?)
    In my experience, with class sizes steadily growing, combined with the fact that I only see each class once a week, the challenge becomes, “sorting out,” WHY a particular student “appears” non-engaged. Is it attention deficit? Family problems? Peer problems? Introversion? (I teach in a very large “urban” school system.) How many introverts am I not engaging, who, like me, feel a deep connection to an expressive art? My fear is that I am missing my quieter kids, and that they will slip through the cracks, un-noticed…

  130. Jay Martin on 17.03.2012 at 13:08 (Reply)

    I believe that no child should enter school in any form, whether kindergarten or whatever, until the age of six. Until that age, they should have NO STRUCTURE, and be allowed to play. This will develop them better than anything. It will lead to more creative children. It is okay, however, to read with and to children from the age of two and up. Go over those ‘highlights’ type learning books/magazines with the child. They are learning constantly even at the age of two. They absorb information at an incredible pace during those early years. But structure is not needed until the age of six and above. Structure too early will rob them of and suppress their creativity.
    Also make sure they are taught Truth. Don’t waste time teaching them myths or legends.

    1. sonata on 26.03.2012 at 01:54 (Reply)

      Read to them only after the age of two? While I agree with some of what you say, it is surely over rigid and isn’t really about how teachers feel about introverts.

  131. Daphne on 17.03.2012 at 14:02 (Reply)

    I can definitely relate to this article. I was very, very quiet and shy as a kid. Even thought I did well in school, I didn’t like going at all. I hated it when the teacher would tell the class to pick a partner or form groups. I was rarely picked and it hurt. I can remember a health ed teacher who did tons of group projects and I hated it because I didn’t have any friends in the class. She would tell me to be more social. She wrote on my report card that I needed to work on my social skills. Because I wasn’t very good at small talk many people just assumed a lot of things about me that weren’t true. I can remember several tines where I was asked, “Why are you so quiet?” It was said in a tone that implied that being quiet was a disorder.

    Ironically, thanks to a brother and parents that love to debate, I never had much trouble speaking up in class discussion but I struggled socially. I felt very out of place most of the times. I felt like that teachers loved me because I was quiet and obedient and for little or no other reason. I have noticed that many teacher love the quiet kids because they are quiet, obedient and don’t cause trouble. The sad part to me is that so many of these kids are not nurtured intellectually. They just pass through because the teacher assumes they are fine because they are quiet and well behaved. Then, those quiet kids are told to be “more outgoing.” It is so maddening and ironic. Then on the other end, many teachers play favorites with the extroverts for different reasons. I feel like I fell through the system in many ways.

  132. Bruce Holbert on 17.03.2012 at 14:48 (Reply)

    I am a teacher and writer and introvert. I have followed this site for quite a long time and sympathize with those people who have suffered in classrooms because their introverted nature didn’t match a teacher’s style or the educational systems general values (which are misguided in many regards), but I have to say that too many of the recent posts have been out and out attacks on teachers in general (teachers as underachievers, bullies, inept, uncaring, inattentive, etc…). I think Ms. Cain’s next book could easily be on the destruction of teacher’s self respect by constant attacks of this kind (they are everywhere. Teachers are truly treated as second class citizens by the media and the public, in general). It is no more unkind or inaccurate to typify teachers as losers than it is to do so to introverts, and those of you who are are engaged in the kind of non-productive hyperbole that maintains the status quo on all fronts. It moves us no more near a solution and instead just works to invalidate another group of people. It is time, as Lincoln said, to listen to the better angels of our nature.

    1. sonata on 26.03.2012 at 01:56 (Reply)

      I agree, and have veered into that same criticism in my posts here. I apologize. I can only explain that after so many years, the wounds are still sore. Thanks for posting.

  133. Joe Anstett on 17.03.2012 at 20:37 (Reply)

    I teach English as a second language in Peru. My job description, to convert Spanish-speaker introvert into English-speaking extroverts.

    1. Danielle on 23.03.2012 at 15:39 (Reply)

      You sure have your work cut out for you. Good luck with that.

  134. Cheez on 19.03.2012 at 18:59 (Reply)

    This article and some of its posts are funny. Most introverts are very self-aware, but it sometimes takes hearing examples from others to put their experiences into context. What strikes me is that I imagine extroverted children are easy for a teacher. Extroverts rarely internalize ideas, they often just hear, accept, and repeat. Introverts may understand the basics of an idea right away, but it takes longer to process it, apply it to their experiences and beliefs, compare, analyze, and then finally accept it and file it away. So the introverts are often the true thinkers, the ones that teachers should be trying to reach the most, but instead they cast them off as shy and uninterested, or worse, uninteresting.

    But the other part that’s funny to me are the posts where people say “I used to be an introvert…”. News flash - if you were ever an introvert, you are one right now, and you’re always going to be one. You don’t just change a personality temperament. Introversion and shyness aren’t the same, you can’t just “overcome” introversion. Introversion or extroversion a fundamental part of who you are. You can overcome some of the weaknesses common to introverted people, particularly shyness, but you can’t just decide to become an extrovert. Likewise, if you’re an extroverted person, you can’t just decide to be an introvert.

  135. CivilDiscourse on 23.03.2012 at 10:18 (Reply)

    I read this with interest as my daughter was a very bright, creative, kind, and introverted child, now off to college. At the first parent teacher conference of every year I would be told by nearly every teacher that she needed to participate more in class in order to be successful. I’d just smile. At the second parent teacher conference of the year they’d always be singing the praises of this same quiet child. One such teacher was particularly down on her quietness at the first conference of the year. At the second he was absolutely gushing about what a leader she is - albeit a quiet leader. He very seriously advised that she should write a book on how to succeed in high school (despite the fact that she was just as quiet as always) and that he’d love to write the foreward for her book. While the teachers were rather quick to judge her on her quietness, they would start to realize that she was quiet because she was very observant and thought everyone had something more interesting to say than she did. She absorbed information like a sponge because she was listening rather than talking. Yet, when everyone least expected it she would come out with something profound because she’d been mulling it, analyzing it, connecting the dots while others blathered. She’d write papers so thought provoking or eloquent that teachers were astounded that one so young could write so well. It was very common for them to ask if they could keep her papers because they were so amazed by them.
    An example of her quiet leadership: As one of her academic teams prepared for competition they were asked to present their work to the local media as a way to work the kinks out. Just as the judges would do later, the media was told to ask questions at the end. The extroverted kids were answering all the questions while my daughter let them take the lead. But then a particularly difficult question was asked and an uncomfortable silence filled the room as the kids struggled to come up with an answer. Then the “quiet leader” in the back of the group piped up with a wonderfully constructed and well thought out answer, saving the day. It drew loud applause and the presentation ended. The other kids immediately turned to my daughter and said simply, “Wow! Just WOW!” No one ever again doubted her importance on the team.
    The only “teacher” she had that completely failed to ever learn an appreciation for her introverted nature was a coach. He constantly railed at her for her silence, interpreting it as selfish, not being part of the team, etc. He never understood that she completely threw herself into the sport precisely because she wanted to contribute - and contribute she did - moving to varsity within a week of joining the team. She was always quietly encouraging her team mates, urging them on when they were exhausted, having quiet side conversations to calm their nerves, urging them into the limelight while she stepped back. She never believed in tooting her own horn so never defended herself when the coach railed at her for being so quiet. In his mind there was only one kind of team player and it was a loud and extroverted one. She eventually had to leave the team for her own well being despite being, by that time, the top athlete on the team. He doesn’t understand his failure as a coach to this day. But she’s moved on and continues to excel at college, quietness and all :)

    1. Danielle on 23.03.2012 at 15:31 (Reply)

      Coach’s loss. Too bad he hasn’t smartened up yet.

  136. dave on 24.03.2012 at 03:33 (Reply)

    It amazes me how people cling to terms like “high functioning” even when we’re not talking about autism. Way to let TV indoctrinate you to the new normal. Stop slapping these labels on everything and everyone and we’ll instantly have a better society.

  137. Luna on 24.03.2012 at 10:57 (Reply)

    I’m so happy to stumble upon your Ted Talk which lead me to here. I plan to purchase your book as soon as possible and I can’t wait to read it. I’ve struggled with various lables throughout the years, shy, not assertive enough, too sensitive, introvert, quiet… etc. etc. I am now 36 years old and you would have thought I would have grown out of this but I still struggle with finding my way in the work world. As you mentioned high school for me was pure torture and the worst years of my life. I was bullied and ended up in what was known as the geek crowd with other intelligent introverts. It however started with me as early as elementary school. I remember being taken out of class and sent to special sessions with the school counsellor because I was quiet. I remember at the time being surprised and having no idea that there was something wrong with me and wondering why I needed to see a counsellor. I remember him asking all these probing questions, i.e. was anything wrong at home etc. and thinking, no nothing’s wrong?? I really hope that with increasing awareness about the power of introverts through your book and other mediums that this stigma will decrease. I don’t want other children to grow up feeling completely alienated and like there is something wrong with them as I did. It’s tough growing up feeling like you are not accepted and you do not belong. It was only when I was in my mid-twenties that I started doing research to try to find out what was wrong with me that I realized, a large portion of the population is this way and I am not alone and furthermore there is nothing wrong with us. We may be quiet but we are often very dilligent and creative and have great ideas. I feel that introverts make great employees but are often seen as not being team players because they are overshadowed by the loud, more outgoing extroverts. I have had to learn how not to be nervous making presentations and attending networking events but I have a quiet voice and demeanour which means I’m often talked over, overlooked and overshadowed. I hope reading your book will help me find more ways that I can shine and thrive in a society that unfortunately does not value us.. yet. :) All I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you! The world needs introverts like you to speak up and bring awarness to this important percentage of the population and that we have many gifts to share and as you say the world needs us now more than ever I think.

  138. Katie on 25.03.2012 at 20:45 (Reply)

    I agree with this. I don’t necessarily believe that they are singled out or hated, they just aren’t noticed. I was shy and introverted throughout school. Teachers didn’t notice me, didn’t praise me, and though I got As and Bs I never really succeeded. I think that this was because I have trouble explaining things to people which makes it hard to write good essays and do projects. Anyway, one time I was singled out, for a gifted and talented program. Technically, you were supposed to have several teacher recomendations, but I didn’t have any. The only reason I was in was because I scored the highest in the school on the cognative abilities test and on the MAP science and reading tests. I was miserable. The class focused on projects and papers, and if there were grades, I would have failed. The rest of the people in the class were all extremely popular and it became a haven for gossip. Plus, they were all good at communication, and expected me to be as well. When I failed to write a one-page paper in a night, or struggled with a project, they treated me like I was incapable and stupid. Eventually I just stopped going, and everyone assumed that I had dropped out or was kicked out or wasn’t smart enough to stay in. Sometimes I thought that I was stupid.

    In highschool, that changed. My teachers actually noticed me. My english teacher(of all the teachers to support me, English? what a wierd world) convinced me to sign up for advanced language arts in my sophmore year. She told me that though my essays weren’t great, my Ideas were. She also noted my reading level.

    I have a lot of teachers to thank, and a lot that, well, weren’t too great.
    This article was interesting

  139. Dev on 26.03.2012 at 03:38 (Reply)

    hi, this is Dev. I’ve always been an introvert in life. i have finally landed a full-time job as a content writer from home which perfectly suits my temperament. No office boss breathing down my neck, no back-biting of colleagues, etc. I just sit at home before my computer and meet my weekly deadlines in relaxation.

    1. mysocalledextrovertedlife on 26.03.2012 at 14:46 (Reply)

      Dev, I want to be you. I have a lot of stress in my life because I am in an extrovert world - even on a personal basis. I work in communications, an extrovert field, I have an extroverted husband will zillions of friends and who insists on doing something every weekend. I don’t have a group of friends so his friends are it, and I can’t stand most of them, btw. I love him, but I hate the pressure of having to do something every weekend which often turns out to be sitting around someone else’s home small talking with people I don’t particularly care about or sitting in a bar somewhere because he needs to talk to people. From my perspective I can sit around my own house read a book or watch movies, which I love. But to him, watching movies is something you do when its lousy out or there’s absolutely nothing else to do that’s social. So in short, if an introvert can fashion their life to suit their tendencies, both work wise and in the personal arena it is best. Ideally introverts should marry their own and mostly be friends with their own. They should also choose work that is more with things and ideas than people. I’m sure I would be better off.

      1. Dev on 26.03.2012 at 22:29 (Reply)

        it’s sad to know that most of the time you’re compelled to do something that doesn’t suit your temperament. you can do something about it. tell your husband to learn more about introverts from the internet. let him know the psychology of introverts so that he’ll understand you better and not force you to do something that goes against your nature. All the best!

  140. Dienekes on 26.03.2012 at 20:14 (Reply)

    As a card-carrying introvert from a very young age I always viewed school as a form of indentured servitude; early on I became suspicious that much of what my teachers told me (“You’re going to need to know this someday”; “algebra will teach you how to think”, and other noble lies) was just not so. It was also apparent that most teachers liked students that made them look good without really trying; and that extrovert types got most of the attention by sucking up most of the available oxygen. To a very great extent that pattern holds in our culture right up to old age. Just watch a table full of elderly blowhards at their morning coffee at Hardees for proof…

    Like Lucky Jack Aubrey, I was blessed by being prickly and hard to eradicate, and my introvert advantages have served me well. Much of “what everybody knows” turned out not to be exactly right and a lot of the roads others went down were dead ends in reality. I had some interesting conversations with my father and my son about the value of American educational methods in which we decided that the last 100 years of educational theory was pretty much baloney. It’s pretty much hostile to normal kids, verging on child abuse. My new grandson is probably going to be home schooled. He may or may not continue the family tradition of introversion, but in any case he’ll be treated as an individual and loved for himself.

    This team playing stuff is for the birds anyway.

  141. Daniel on 26.03.2012 at 21:34 (Reply)

    I saw that and thought the same thing, though the rest of the post and the comments (so far) have mitigated my over-analytical, negative, and generally snarky nature.

  142. Daniel on 26.03.2012 at 21:36 (Reply)

    Sorry, that was a reply to Ward Kendall on 16.03.2012 at 11:16 (Reply)

    J.K. Rowling is a “great thinker”?

    Rich, successful, entertaining…but certainly not a “great thinker”.

  143. Daniel on 26.03.2012 at 22:29 (Reply)

    I totally agree with this post. Whether introversion came as a result of genetics or environmental factors is ancillary to the fact that we have to deal with the fact that “living social” is something that us introverts must accept and try to work on. Even in my profession-research science-the most successful are the ones that are most adept at speaking up and selling themselves, even if they are not the most talented. Keep faith, these are skills that can be feigned if not learned.
    I used to dread giving presentations; way back in high school I remember having to do one for an English class and feeling like I bombed it. Luckily I had a teacher who was likely an introvert herself and was supportive. It was likely not as bad as I thought it was at the time. Now I can give a presentation in front of hundreds of scientists-including Nobel Laureates-and not get nervous.

    High-school wasn’t good or bad, but life can definitely get better afterwards.

  144. Kathleen on 27.03.2012 at 10:45 (Reply)

    When I was in elementary school I was deemed slow even though my reading scores said otherwise. My parents pointed this out and I was put in a more appropriate level class.

    But yes, from day one and even after, it was held against me for being contemplative and thinking through my answers before vocalizing them. Then later in middle school, I had a teacher say accuse me of daydreaming and not paying attention.

    ‘Am I homeschooling my kids?(Do you even have to ask?) :-)

  145. Bernadette on 27.03.2012 at 19:18 (Reply)

    I was extremely shy and introverted at school. What made it worse was that halfway through primary school my family emigrated from South Africa to The Netherlands so I was uprooted and chucked into a foreign environment which made me feel even more strange than I previously had. Primary school was worse than high school though.

    What really got me through this difficult period was my fathers unconditional support. My mother was the one running around and organising/forcing play dates. My father was the one reassuring me that it was completely normal to be introverted and that it ran in the family. He really made me understand that the last thing a person should want is to be sucked up into the main stream of society (not that I’m some drugged up rebellious hippy now, I just keep my head down, don’t atrract any attention to myself and waddle off home where I really do enjoy myself).

    This guidance from my father made me more willing to stand up my principles in a social setting and to hate doing things ‘just because they are fashionable’. I’m still extremely introverted but thanks to my fathers support of my natural character that same quality has become a tool to make me stronger when dealing with social situations.

    Maybe schools should try this approach as well.

  146. Jen on 28.03.2012 at 09:19 (Reply)

    When I was young I was terribly shy in school and in general. When I was 16 I started work as a cashier at a local store which brought out a more talkative side of me. Being shy is crippling at times because extroverts try to force you to convert to there world. They may even think something is wrong with you if you don’t.

    I think a shy person needs to feel comfortable and ready to be more outgoing when the time is right for them at there own pace. I am 35 today and I consider myself both an extrovert and an introvert it depends on the day.

  147. Susan on 29.03.2012 at 07:28 (Reply)

    This teacher was 100% wrong to say what she did. She should not be teaching at all.
    However it is the job of a teacher to ask her students to participate in class. Teachers are trying to prepare students for college and the real world. It is also the job of the parent to encourage their children to participate in class. Imagine a class where no one spoke up but just wrote down their answers? Why are these students so shy? They have to come out of their shell someone. I have seen students quiet in class but yelling in the halls and cafeteria. Many do not want to give a wrong answer in front of their friends and be seen as making a mistake. I have also seen them ecel in sports or music. It is not asking too much for the student to participate. It is dreadfully wrong to make fun of students in the teacher’s room, facebook or say anything to discourage them in any way. Most people always remeber the the teacher that humiliated them.

  148. Ter on 29.03.2012 at 07:42 (Reply)

    Really enjoyed learning that my “problem” in school was being an introvert. As a young adult I joined a church that I now recognize is chock-full of extroverts. I have learned to cope but it is difficult for me. A few years ago I was asked to ‘do girl’s camp’….I’d never been to one first of all; didn’t relate to the activities required second of all; didn’t enjoy the enforced camaraderie third of all. There were two girls who, I was told, did not participate in the activities and they (the leaders) couldn’t figure out what was wrong with them. So I created alternate activities with them in mind. While all the other girls went horseback riding and participated in group activities, these two “problematic” girls and I sat and learned how to make baskets and other quiet activities. They told me later that it was the most enjoyable girl’s camp they’d ever attended. I explained to the leader afterward that there was nothing wrong with the girls….they were just quiet and there was nothing wrong with that and they preferred quieter activities. I could see the light bulb go on. I didn’t realize the three of us were introverts. But, to me, the very best part of the whole camp ordeal was the comfort and enjoyment of those two girls. Since then I have become too ill, physically, to attend church often and I don’t miss it. I miss the learning but do not miss the extroverted masses. It is, indeed, exactly like a cocktail party without alcohol. I lol’d at that description.

  149. Leland on 01.04.2012 at 21:24 (Reply)

    Why was I so quiet in school? Why did it become much of the worst time in my life? Because I was surrounded by idiots, that’s why.

  150. Linda on 02.04.2012 at 03:58 (Reply)

    I, too, was an introvert while growing up. In school, I always made good grades and paid attention to everyone around me. I was never teased, just left alone. I would have liked to be “popular,” but that might have meant breaking out of my shell. After college, I began teaching kindergarten, then moved up to 1st grade, then 3rd grade, then middle school special ed. where I taught “math lab.” I eventually moved into counseling in middle school and continued that for 23 years, until I retired. I loved my students and my job - never a dull day! I seem to be a good listener and observer. So there is a place in life for us all. Every entertainer needs an audience.

  151. Dan on 02.04.2012 at 06:37 (Reply)

    Sometimes a child is quiet due to issues at home. I remember our 6th grade teacher giving us time each morning to write in a journal. At the end of each quarter, we were tasked to read two entries to the class. I was reluctant. I actually only read one during a quarter and received a negative mark. I always wished my teacher asked me why I was so reluctant to share what was going on at home… It would have been nice to talk to someone about it. I do not blame her for not asking though. That is the difference between a good teacher and a great teacher.

    I also had several really incredible teachers in school. They are out there and they stick with us as we continue through life. I am truly grateful for their passion to help us grow.

  152. Ann on 03.04.2012 at 07:37 (Reply)

    So glad I spotted this article. I spent much of my life wondering “what’s wrong with me.” All through High School I would look at the popular outgoing students and wonder “why can’t I be like them?” I felt like a failure. My home life was dismal and that didn’t help. I felt sorry for the girl in the article who the teacher critized for just sitting there for 90 minutes. God only knows what else is going on with some of these students. While taking a management course at work I took the Myers Briggs test and came up as a strong introvert. I think they said that in the USA 75% of the population is extrovert. Once I learned about this I was better able to understand myself and others. I always found extroverted people to be exhausting to be around. I can rise to any social ocassion with the best of them but I find the experience tiring and need time alone afterwards to charge my batteries. I think it was one of the reasons that I avoided teaching because I can’t always be “on”. Just watching politicians interact on TV is overwhelming. I always wonder how people can talk so much and stand being around a lot of people all the time. I thought that there was something wrong with me because going to Disney World just wasn’t the greatest time of my life. Today I know that I need to watch for sensory overload and avoid certain situations and people who can just be too much. I’m 60 now and it’s taken me a long time to accept who I am and to be comfortable in my own skin. I found it comforting to read an article that understands the introvert and to hear from fellow travelers reminding me that I am not alone and that I’m OK. Thanks.

  153. Jack Norris on 03.04.2012 at 07:50 (Reply)

    Teachers love stupid kids and bullies. Act like a violent sociopath every day of your life and “oh he must come from an underprivlidged background that makes him act that way”. But be a little quiet OH MY GOD HE’S THE NEXT SCHOOL SHOOTER.

    I asked why school shootings are so much worse than the shootings on the street committed by “bullies”. The only answer I recieved from you morons was “N-word this” and “n-word that” and “they’re jsut a bunch of n-words”.

    Right because the 8-year-old who was shot in Detroit in his own bedroom while doing his homework is an “N-word” even though he’s white. Shows how educated you really are.

    And I’M the one who has “no respect for human life” for asking that question?

  154. Bill on 04.04.2012 at 06:31 (Reply)

    While in school and through life in general I’ve always been characterized as being quiet and shy. People, including my parents and wife, thought something was wrong with me. That feeling of something being wrong with me infiltrated into my own thoughts about myself. My wife says I’m rude because I’m quiet and beacuse don’t like being around a lot of people. It’s caused problems in our marriage. I have very little tolerance for blurting, loud, obnoxious, outgoing people. I sit in the back of my church, movie theaters, buses, classrooms in college (it was a terrible feeling in Grade school and High School when I was forced to be up front in the classroom). It was not until I started seeing a Psychologist and getting to know more about myself, that I found out that there was nothing wrong with me. It was a good feeling and now I actually feel like I’m in an exclusive club. I have a son who’s an introvert and I can relate and understand him totally. I’ve also told him he’s OK and to feel good about himself.

    We just want people to leave us alone.

  155. spockmonster on 04.04.2012 at 08:00 (Reply)

    The majority of people are non-compos. It is no surprise that the majority of teachers think that extroverts are the ideal student, Monkey see, Monkey do. But the majority wins, so the introverts suffer shame and social abuse in school by the majority.

    In a dumbed down society, intelligent people are regarded with suspicion and contempt.

  156. chris on 04.04.2012 at 10:37 (Reply)

    I fit neatly into the category of shy introvert . I was a kid who got 100-106 A’s in school up to 8th grade . I completed all class materials and did extra credit . In 9th grade however, class participation was introduced into my world and I quickly became a 66 F student . i took an iq test administered by the state 5 years ago and scored a 168, but could not even get a passing grade in school . I sincerely wish more people would be more aware that there are people in our society that simply choose not to speak up, but are not ignorant . My personal opinion is that I would rather not engage in “common” chit chat . I simply do not care who got kicked off American Idol this week …

  157. trobinspire on 06.04.2012 at 23:37 (Reply)

    I love my introverted students! However, the challenge I face daily is to figure out whether my quiet, reserved students are truly introverts or simply not engaged. You see, the line between the two, at least outwardly, is very fine. Both students may look uninterested, unfocused, lost in their own world. But the introvert may be right there with me, thinking deeply about what I’m teaching, trying to fit all of the pieces together in her head. The other student is on vacation somewhere. But outwardly, they often look the same to me. So if all I do is evaluate (ok, judge) a student based on what she looks like, I risk losing a golden opportunity to connect with an introvert who might really stand to gain something from my teaching. And so I have to find ways to break the class down so that there is time for me to approach those quieter students individually and see where they truly are. I confess, when I get tired, I don’t make that necessary effort like I should, and I wonder how many opportunities I’ve missed to really connect with those students.

    1. INTJgrl72 on 15.04.2012 at 23:42 (Reply)

      Wow, at least you acknowledge the validity of introversion! I had a few great teachers like that, but it did not erase the pain and shame I felt by the way several others treated me. To this day, I would seriously feel compelled to “take down” some of these teachers if I saw them again, since I’m no longer shy whatsoever-and then, I’d turn around and tell them to read “Quiet”!

  158. yvonne on 08.04.2012 at 05:30 (Reply)

    I always knew from a young age that I wasn’t like most of the other kids in my class. I liked being alone. I liked quiet pursuits like reading and reading and I was good at them. But I did feel as though I was being judged by teachers for being quiet. At the end of every year I would take home my report and my grades were average to good depending on the subjects, but in the box at the bottom of the report, marked for “other comments” many teachers would put “Yvonne is very quiet in class.” It felt like a judgement not praise. Every time I read it it was like “Yvonne is very quiet in class…” “And? So what? What about it?” Why did the teacher not praise me for my quietness, why did they not thank me for getting on with my work when other kids were acting up and making a racket? Teachers may complain about noisy kids but I think the majority of them still think that the noisy kid is at least a normal kid. The quiet child is viewed with suspicion and/or concern. In high school the situation only gets worse when your grades start becoming dependent on your ability to stand up in front of the class to do the infamous “talk”. But at least when I was in school if you didn’t do the “talk” or you did it badly and got a bad grade you could pick up your overall English grade by doing an amazing piece of creative writing. Now it seems that if you don’t do the “talk” you get an automatic fail for the entire subject. That is disgraceful. It would be like if in studying maths you got a failing grade for the entire subject for not understanding algebra, even if you were a wiz at trig and geometry. If kids aren’t good at talking just let them write. They are both perfectly good, valid forms of communication. Let people do what they are good at, and stop berating them for the things they can’t do. Being quiet is not a crime, or a sin, or an illness. I don’t need help. I don’t need fixing. I’m not in a shell. Please let me be who I am. I can’t be something I’m not. I’m an introvert and I’m fine. :-)

  159. Ann on 10.04.2012 at 09:26 (Reply)

    I find it didn’t get much better in college. I was raised to think before I speak. I find as in introvert this is how my mind works anyway. In high school and college (and beyond) I always wondered how can people have so much to say and know so little? I need information before I can make a statement, so my time is spent observing and learning. In college courses both in class and on-line I would hear/read so much blah, blah, blah and wonder if these people ever “think before they speak.” It’s like you get credit for making/writing noise but does the teacher/professor actually pay enough attention to realize the nothingness of what was said/written or are they as focused on “checking the block” for participation as the student is to get credit for it? I will so thou that when someone speaks with some attempt at intelligence even to be honest enough to say “I don’t undertand” then I listen. I find the extroverts are commenting while I’m still digesting the question. Oh well, I’m glad that I finally understand me as that is all that really matters in the end.

  160. Paula on 12.04.2012 at 16:48 (Reply)

    I could not resist downloading the ebook! A highly readable study on introversion and a great many of its overlooked facets :)
    I’m excited to be an introvert - I’ve always known that I was one, but the book helps me be excited and happy about it! After all the years of being bullied by my own brother and told to just not react, all the social freak outs when I’d say something unexpected and feel so judged, all the difficulties of small talk and keeping names with faces, I know now that I am just fine.
    I was homeschooled from third grade to graduation - not as a social, academic, or religious measure, but as a time management measure. My parents ran a business that required both of them to travel, primarily during the school year, and it was either miss so many days we’d be perpetually in third/fourth grade, or bring the books. I thrived academically and even socially, with all the traveling and having so much free time to pursue what I really cared about, I was able to shine.
    Having my introversion crossed with a rather fiery temper, some teachers were baffled by me. Evidently, my warning cues to certain class members to stop pulling my hair or talking over me or looking at my answers were too soft, and I would explode into a loud tirade - completely uncaring that I’d just turned myself into a target for a spanking. um… No wonder I was so much fun for my brother to torment! But I did, and still do, stand up for other people too. My friends were the outcasts, and nobody was allowed to be mean in my group. I just seem to lack that social filter that lets other people pass by those in trouble - and now I can see that can be a good thing.
    Now I’m a mom, and a writer, and an artist, and I don’t care about the things I’ve never cared about, and I still care about the things I’ve always cared about. Wealth and fashion and status are what the world chases after - I pursue truth and beauty and relationships. If that makes me weird, then weird is wonderful :) I am very happy that so many others are like this as well. The world needs us, and is better for us being in it. :)

  161. INTJgrl72 on 15.04.2012 at 23:31 (Reply)

    I am reading “Quiet” right now and loving it-very interesting. This post about teachers and introverts really caught my eye due to some very negative experiences I had in high school.

    One history teacher would repeatedly force us into “teams” for group projects. I was painfully shy and hated this, and she was always snapping at me with comments like, “C’mon, Jen, this is how you make new friends!”. If I had a question for her, I went up to her desk and waited quietly for her to notice me, being so shy (and fearful, knowing she hated me!)-which would result in her looking up at me with a mocking, exaggerated, bug-eyed expression-as if to say I was staring blankly at her. One day, she actually gave us the option of working alone, saying “I know some of you prefer working alone” and I thought, wow, she finally gets it! Two of us in the class chose to work independently. Then-this teacher turned right around and forced us to team up! When I protested, quoting her “work alone” option back at her (by that time I had developed some attitude), she rolled her eyes and said “Some things never change” in an exasperated tone of voice.

    Another teacher liked to do things like slap the desk when I wasn’t looking and shout “HI JENNIFER!!!!!”, then laugh when I acted startled. Frankly, this is a cruel thing to do to a highly sensitive person and just unprofessional in general. This was a history teacher too, so I’m pretty sure the extro history clique at my HS really had it in for me. Oh: the desk-slapper is now the principal or maybe even superintendent of schools now!

    I’m almost 40 and am finally learning not to loathe my introversion. In fact, I’m starting to attempt educating people about it, which is liberating!

  162. Jamie on 16.04.2012 at 06:02 (Reply)

    My daughter was always quiet in school and every time we went to a parent teacher meeting we would hear the same things: lovely girl, smart, listens and does well on her tests, but she doesn’t speak up enough and never asks questions. In our schools extroversion to the point of peer aggression was prized. By the time she entered Junior High, a tough age for any child, she was miserable in school, losing self esteem, her grades were declining and she was constantly under pressure to speak up when she had no question to ask and had no desire to be the loud-mouthed center of attention in the classroom. We couldn’t stand to see her suffer through this and went searching for a new school. We are not wealthy, but we decided it would be worth every penny to pay private school tuition if it would save her from her situation. We found a home for her in a local Waldorf School where they have greater appreciation of individuality.

  163. Vicki on 16.04.2012 at 14:30 (Reply)

    > I also know how hard it is for teachers when students are reluctant to participate in class.

    I am an Introvert and happy to be one. In elementary school, I was quiet but also bright and, shall we say, opinionated. Apparently I asked a lot of questions.

    My 6th grade English teacher (who, up to that day I liked) said to me one day “You ask a lot of questions.” (She may have said “too many”; my memory is fuzzy.) In any case, this wasn’t said in a positive, admiring tone. It shut me down for the rest of the school year.

    Some of us learned to be reluctant to participate because participation “our way” wasn’t rewarded.

  164. jake on 04.05.2012 at 18:21 (Reply)

    Im glad im not the only one who realizes that alot of these teachers might as well be your childs classmate.

  165. Paula Prof on 10.05.2012 at 12:05 (Reply)

    What do students really think about Quiet teachers/professors?

    Having survived the pressures in school described by many posters here and went on to graduate school and succeeded in becoming a college professor, I have found academia to be particularly unfriendly to “quiet types.” As a graduate student it was not enough to be able to write about your subject matter and speak in class but one must also always be pushy and competing; altruistic behaviors are viewed as “unsophisticated” and not understanding the power structure. The students who challenged (read bullied) the professors got their grades elevated.

    Over the course of my career as a professor the student evaluation of teaching has become the standard used to judge classroom teaching and they tend to work like a middle-school popularity contest with extrovert behavior and speaking style and general demeanor the expected norm-i.e. extroversion is equivalent to good teaching.

    All the elements described in the chapter about the business school were also present for my graduate program in the social sciences-social pressure, a schedule that is “on” 16+ hours a day, and class activities that reward extroversion only.

    I thought I had chosen the life of the mind!

  166. MeiMei on 16.05.2012 at 00:25 (Reply)

    I am shy. I liked school but it was lonely most of my life. I graduated 2010 from high school. Elementary school I don’t recall having any friends. My memory of before 10 years old is fuzzy and I can only remember bits and pieces. I may be shy because with my bio mother I was abused at home. I remember I had one nice bus driver that made my day in 3rd grade I think. The last day of school he gave away his beanie baby collection to us. I still have the pumpkin in my room. When I lived at the homeless shelter with my bio mom their were a couple of people of adults that would interact with me which of course being shy was glad someone talking to me. I was put into foster care (same family adopted me :D ) after that and in 5th grade I had my 1st friend I remember names Katelyn. The other students ignored me or cut in front of me when going to class and wouldn’t invite me to play but Katelyn let me joined in.Her mother was great too. Then we moved and 6th grade no one would talk to me. 7th grade some girls came up to me and started talking and I made friends with them. I hanged out with them. My foster family (wasnt yet adopted til halfway through 7th grade) thought I had no friends til my bday. I did my best to invite a couple other people I semi talked to but only those 3 showed up. I still have the stuffed frog they gave me. 8th grade they split apart and I had seperate classes and didnt see any of them. 9th grade all alone. 10 grade I met someone at a bus stop, it was all because she decided to say hi and we talked. We became good friends. Then my adoptive parents had us move to north carolina. Only reason I had friends for my last 2 years was because I met my number one best friend. She was the only person I met where I could act myself right away. I don’t know why but I am still great friends with her. Being shy in school sucked. I was scared to speak up, I was scared to go into class when I am late because I knew when your late people will stare when you enter the class, it usually took me about 5 minutes before walking in to gather up some courage. But being shy had its advantages. I never had to deal with fake friends. All of my friends were the good kind. I can talk to people easily online because I can’t see them but with in person, I am crazy nervous. I hate being left out but my fear of ridicule keeps me down and when I do open up its either they like me or don’t. Some don’t because I am “weird” or “loud” . But I did prefer being alone and read. I don’t mind company but I do need myself time instead of talking to people which tires me out. Even now when I think I am talking loudly, I am never loud enough for others. I can’t talk to long because I am not used to talking alot. I like to watch others have fun, but I do like to join too. I am trying to work my people skills so I won’t be so nervous. Wish me luck :D

  167. Hannah on 29.05.2012 at 18:13 (Reply)

    I’m in high school now, and I can say, being an introvert is not fun. Everything is too loud for me. I’m required to participate in Spanish, and it is excrucating for me. I start panicking if I have to read a paragraph in lit. I’m also painfully shy and have difficulty looking people in the eye. Several teachers have noticed and commented about it in ways that were not helpful. I’m not trying to be rude, it’s just the way I am. I think that introverts have difficulty fitting in. I’m seen as arrogant, rude, dull, and there’s a lot more unpleasant adjectives.

  168. matias on 04.06.2012 at 17:06 (Reply)

    very goog I agree

  169. Kenny on 04.06.2012 at 23:34 (Reply)

    I used to be a very quite person. As I kid, they were many of my peers picked on me due to my behavior. In fact, having a friend was too hard to do. I did not want any kids from my environment, neighbors, or schoolmates. Of course, I had pets, and I’ve never tortured them. I thought that they were my playmates. However, as I get older, communication was an important skill in my person growth development. I was around 16ish or 17ish when I started making friends. At the same time, I was a working student. I studied at night, and I worked at day time. My employer was a CPA. According to her that I have to communicate to people, especially at work. Well, I’m very proud of myself due to the fact that it did change my life. One example that changes my life is that I learned to speak another dialect in my country. As I get older and older, humans interest me. I get more curious. On the other hand, I still prefer to do things or isolate myself when possible. Exposure in public drains my energy. In contrast, I know how to balance my energy these days. Even though I get addicted to a life of an extrovert, I always crave isolating myself. I still enjoy being alone.

    In fact, being extrovert doesn’t mean you’re a dumb person. There are many introvert people who excelled very well in their lives.

    It’s a matter of engaging yourself in something that is challenging, or suck the life out of you.

  170. Kenny on 04.06.2012 at 23:37 (Reply)

    In contrary, there are some teachers who insult people who ask a lot of questions.

    This is not fair to people who have a million of questions in their mind, and they want to find out things.

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