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Topic: Early childhood
Pam01
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Posts: 1
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Early childhood
on: Apr 15, 2012, 8:46am

I have not yet read Susan's book, but I am very excited to learn of it. As I talk with parents about their children, I have found myself on both sides of this discussion.


One extroverted mom laments, "why is he so shy!?" (and she goes on to talk without waiting for an answer) To her, I reassure. He is fine, it is just that "extrovert" tends to be valued more in our society – both are just dispositions and different ways of being in the world.


But to another family, I express concern about their introverted daughter, who is not comfortable speaking up for herself. We are on the same page – all aware of how much she takes in by watching and listening, how well she does working by herself even amidst a busy preschool classroom, but concerned that she is not comfortable speaking up when others draw on her paper or take her materials.


It seems extroverts are equated with confidence, introverts aree seen as insecure or low self esteem. The problem as I see it is there is some truth to these assumptions??


preschool teacher, 20+ years

Red Dog
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Posts: 192
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Re: Early childhood
on: Apr 15, 2012, 3:33pm

Quote from Pam01 on Apr 15, 2012, 8:46am


But to another family, I express concern about their introverted daughter, who is not comfortable speaking up for herself. We are on the same page – all aware of how much she takes in by watching and listening, how well she does working by herself even amidst a busy preschool classroom, but concerned that she is not comfortable speaking up when others draw on her paper or take her materials.


That may be a feature of cultural expectations.


It seems extroverts are equated with confidence, introverts aree seen as insecure or low self esteem. The problem as I see it is there is some truth to these assumptions??


This calls to mind a true story from when I was in kindergarten, over 50 years ago. My mother raised me to be a mannerly child and be polite: not be pushy, grabbing things, loudmouthed, etc. After a few months in kindergarten, the teacher reported to my parents that I must have a severe psychological problem because all my drawings were done in black or brown crayon. So (fortunately!) my mother asked me why, to which I replied that after the other kids mobbed the crayon box and took all the colored crayons there was nothing else left but black and brown to use. Obviously it didn't bother me as much as it did someone else.


Isn't it remarkable that teachers of young children think they are qualified to make such psychological diagnoses with such certainty and authority? It probably would never have occurred to the teacher to ask me why, or that there might be another simpler, benign reason; the implication is that young children are not considered capable of expressing themselves and saying what the problem is. That in itself is a form of bias or prejudice.


Well, I never forgot the experience and many years later I painted paintings in a palette of pure, vibrant colors as a 'tongue in cheek' way of having the last laugh. <LOL>. If Rembrandt had been in that woman's class he would have been considered to be disturbed, too, for preferring such dark tones.


Part of assertiveness is having the awareness of the possibility that one may be wrong.


Watch out for those assumptions… icon wink Forum


manylander
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Posts: 4
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Re: Early childhood
on: Jul 23, 2012, 7:48pm

Red Dog said


Isn't it remarkable that teachers of young children think they are qualified to make such psychological diagnoses with such certainty and authority?


Yes, let's watch out for those assumptions indeed!


I'm sorry to hear you had an unfortunate experience 50 years ago with an early childhood educator who misinterpreted a situation and then communicated it ineffectively to parents. Thanks to your mother, hopefully this teacher learned from the experience and was better able to meet the needs of her subsequent introverted students.


But, while teachers of young children may not be qualified to make psychological diagnoses, we ARE qualified to document a child's development and initiate conversations with parents about how best to work with a particular child's strengths and goals. Please refrain from making sweeping assumptions about the entire field of early childhood education because of an isolated incident that took place 50 years ago.


manylander
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Posts: 4
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Re: Early childhood
on: Jul 23, 2012, 9:32pm

Disclaimer: I've not yet read the book, but plan to as soon as it's turned back in at my local library.


I didn't create an account to pick a fight with Red Dog (but when you use a story like that to validate stereotypes that diminish the professionalism of my career – them's fightin' words!)


What I logged on to do was to talk about the role of introversion on teaching teams. For fun, let's rattle off a few assumptions about good preschool teachers:


The stereotypically good preschool teacher is:

- Female

- Bubbly

- Outgoing

- Affectionate

- Patient


…or, in short, extroverted with a pinch of patience.


I think it's safe to say that some variant of these features (save "female" which has no bearing on an individual's ability) are helpful skills for a good preschool teacher to have. But more and more research shows that what sets apart exceptional preschool teachers from good preschool teachers is the ability to listen to and observe students. These strike me as skills that might come more naturally to an introvert.


An extroverted teacher can, of course, masters the art of listening and observing much in the same way an introverted teacher can become skilled in leading large groups and developing relationships with parents.


But the beauty of a preschool classroom is that, more often than not, classrooms are run by a teaching team – a group of two or three people working together. This means that you could potentially have one person who embodies all the strengths of an extrovert (outgoing, affectionate, comfortable having conversations with uneasy new parents), and another that embodies all the strengths of an introvert (a keen observer, comfortable letting children take the lead, exuding a sense of calm).


It would be facinating to learn more not just about the strengths of introverts and extroverts, but the dynamics of these two types of people working together. What kinds of environments are conducive to good introvert/extrovert interactions? How do power relationships usually unfold between these types of people, and are these power relationships maximizing everyone's skill set? How can people responsible for hiring identify individuals to compliment teachers already on their staff?


Red Dog
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Posts: 192
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Re: Early childhood
on: Jul 25, 2012, 12:53pm

Quote from manylander on Jul 23, 2012, 9:32pm

Disclaimer: I've not yet read the book, but plan to as soon as it's turned back in at my local library.


I've seen quite a few people on this list admit that they haven't read the book, yet they offer comments. I don't understand why someone would join a list about a specific book and comment about a topic involving a book they haven't read. It seems presumptuous to me.


I didn't create an account to pick a fight with Red Dog (but when you use a story like that to validate stereotypes that diminish the professionalism of my career – them's fightin' words!)


I don't believe in the concept of "fighting words". I do believe in the old adage of "stick and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."


As for diminishing the professionalism of anyone's career, perhaps you should consider taking things less personally (QTIP). There are still good teachers and bad teachers in the world today, just as there the good, the bad and the ugly in any profession.


Besides, I like teachers. I've been married to a teacher for 32 years… and I get to hear lots of stories about them. icon wink Forum


manylander
Member
Posts: 4
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Re: Early childhood
on: Jul 25, 2012, 5:37pm

Red Dog, you're right to be bothered by my use of the phrase, "Them's fightin' words." It was a poor choice on my part, and I shouldn't have used it. But your description of early childhood educators did make me feel attacked, even if you didn't mean it that way. My reaction to your statement is owed in part to my sensitivity (Chpt. 6 in Quiet – I was able to get my hands on the book) but also in part to a pervasive assumption in our country that early childhood educators are not as intelligent or capable as educators of older children. According to indeed.com the average salary for a kindergarten teacher is $46,000, whereas the average salary for a preschool teacher is $29,000. Infant and toddler teachers get paid just $25,000 to $26,000. I share these figures not to complain but to argue that as a nation, we don't value the work being done by early childhood educators.


I think this is so because people don't really understand young children and the work of an early childhood educator. Many people unfamiliar with the field imagine glorified babysitting and lots of women in aprons using sing-songy voices. Not too long ago I was at an ivy league school's social function and a man asked me what I did for a living. When I said I was a preschool teacher, he snorted and replied, "Well, isn't that cute." If cuteness and babysitting are what comes to mind when people are given the choice to vote for or against increasing taxes that will support state subsidized pre-k or Head Start that's a very serious problem. If cuteness and babysitting are what come to mind when talented young people are deciding if they want to become early childhood educators, that's a very serious problem. And perhaps worst of all, if our current early childhood educators have internalized these stereotypes to the point that they don't believe themselves to be anything but babysitters of "cute kidz" that's a real tragedy.


When someone makes a statement that undermines the abilities of early childhood educators as a collective I react strongly because I think that kind of discourse does a disservice to the young children I work with. This is not to say that we shouldn't talk about bad teachers. Yes! Let's talk about bad teachers! But let's also be sure to talk about the cultural, political, and economic systems in which they work. Rather than ask, "Isn't it remarkable that teachers of young children think they are qualified to make such psychological diagnoses with such certainty and authority," let's instead ask,


- How can we educate teachers of young children to better document potential areas of concern?

- How do we strengthen communication between teachers, parents, and pediatricians so children are receiving appropriate and consistent care?

- How can we encourage reflexivity in the field of early childhood education?

- How can we change policy so that every early childhood educator earns a living wage?


So, did I take things too personally? Perhaps. But, getting back to Quiet, as a sensitive person I tend to take things personally. Some may see it as a weakness, but I choose to see it as a strength. I empathize strongly with my students and fellow teachers and I am outraged by the injustices I see in the field of education and early childhood education in particular. Taking things too personally does have it's downfalls (I get upset and say unproductive things about "fightin'"). But one's perception about whether or not an individual has taken something TOO personally as a lot to do with their position in relationship to power. Extroversion's hegemony over how and to what extent we are to express our emotions to others is precisely what Quiet strives to dismantle. In other words, as a sensitive preschool teacher living in a culture that strips power out of the hands of introverts and educators of young children (a field dominated overwhelmingly by women – an underpriviliged population), I am justified in taking remarks that belittle me personally. My professionalism is not compromised by my sensitivity. It is strengthened.


I realize the tone of this response could be interpretted as overly combative, but I hope that it is not read as such. My goal in writing this was to make explicit the reasons behind my prior reaction. I think these forums should be a space where we strive for better understanding and open communication especially when people’s opinions differ and emotions become involved. If the tone of anything I’ve said in this post or others has caused offense then I am sincerely sorry.


BrittanyLG
Member
Posts: 3
 Forum
Re: Early childhood
on: Dec 6, 2012, 6:09am

In one of the prior post someone mentioned introverts and I extroverts working together. I think of myself as an introverted person. To some who may be surprised i work best with people who are extroverted. I feel that the two different types of personalities when working in an educationally environment work well together especially in the early years. Growing up i was an introvert while most little kids are extroverts as where and are parents to this day. I was not the type of child who got up to dance during freeze dance, or the one who raised my hand to answer the question. My personality was a little different than your typical 4 year old. However whenever i was paired up with someone who was an extrovert it help me to come out of my shell.


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