Floating around the interwebs is this article, written by a self-professed extroverted teacher. She writes about complaints she receives from parents of introverts that she requires her students to answer questions in class. She says she has done research about the different needs of extroverts and introverts, and has come even more strongly to the conclusion that her introverted students need her to require their class participation in order to prepare them for the world.
I have taken issue with a few items in this article. First, the basic premise of what she writes is that introversion = quiet, and quiet = incapable, and extroversion = loud, and loud = successful.
When you google “introverts cartoons” you get thousands of humorous responses, most of which can inform you quickly that introverts are not “just” quiet people. Let me quickly say that as an extrovert myself, what I write about introverts is from the outside-looking-in, and from what my exhausted friends and family members have told me. This cartoon is one of the best illustrations on what can happen between extroverts and introverts, and something I’ve been on the outside of a dozen times.
It’s simply a matter of where a person gets their energy from, and what drains them.
In the mental health field, I am frequently talking to people about how to be their best. How to feel their best, think their best, and act their best – in whatever sequence that happens to come in. A lot of it is about recognizing patterns – “oh, I realized that I am tense and stressed out every time I spend the entire day out with other people.” or “If I stay inside by myself I get depressed and then stay in bed all day and it’s a vicious cycle.” Increasing your awareness of what helps energize you, or fills you with satisfaction, is a crucial part of emotional well-being. Can you imagine being in a classroom where a)you are probably not encouraged to discover the best ways you work, b)it doesn’t matter what you already know about yourself because her way is the right way, c)there is something wrong with you if you can’t or don’t want to be loud, d)you will be made to do something about it, in the most public way possible and then there will be a parent-teacher-conference in which the shaming continues. This sort of behavior, even though the teacher thinks she is preparing the students better for the outside world – is part of why so many people seek therapy later in life. They were taught, by people who are supposed to know better, that the way they function best is incorrect, bad, wrong, and will lead to failure.
At best, it’s disrespectful. At it’s worst, it causes damage to our self-esteem, to our sense of self, our ability to trust what we know is right for us, and our ability to advocate for it. Which is ironic, since that is what she thinks she is helping with. This author places such a premium on the qualities and characteristics that have served *her* well, and ignores the benefits of what an introvert possesses. Her values (to be successful, you have to want to talk out loud, frequently, and with authority) are being coerced onto children (whose values might be; it is better to watch, listen, and learn that way.)