Thinking Space - Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

Questions To Consider:

  • How do you define introvert, extrovert, and ambivert?
  • Which are you? Does it depend on the context? Which are your family members and friends?
  • What are the affordances of being an introvert? What are its constraints?
  • How are schools/classrooms designed for introverts? What would be less comfortable for introverts?
  • What affordances/constraints are there for introverted teachers? Administrators? Do districts tend to hire one more than the other? Should they?
  • What do introverts find challenging working with extroverts and vice versa? (Think students first, then staff.)
  • What is Groupthink? How does it play out in schools/classrooms? What are the affordances/constraints of collaborative work? Individual work?
  • Where are the "restorative niches" in schools/classrooms?
  • Should we help kids become "someone else" at school ...?
    • Can introverts learn to be extroverts? Can a tiger change their stripes?
    • If a tiger can't change their stripes, is it fair to grade the tiger on their stripyness or lack thereof? If they can't change their stripes, how much should we ask them to camouflage themselves? Should we teach those skills explicitly?
  • Does role playing changes things for introverts or extroverts?
  • Does introversion and extroversion play out differently online than in a regular classroom?
  • Is pair work as challenging for most introverts as whole class? What about small groups of 3 or 4? Does that depend on how well they know the class? How "safe" an environment the teacher creates?


  • 1/3-1/2 of your students/colleagues are introverts
  • Introverts acting extroverted can take a toll on their energy
  • Introverts really feel most energized when they're in quieter, lower key environments. Extroverts need larger amounts of stimulation to feel at their best
  • "Shyness is more about the fear of social judgment, and the assumption that people tend to be judging you negatively."
  • Workplaces are being designed more for extroverts. What about schools?
  • Process has gotten lopsided toward too much groupthink
    • "This is not to say that we should abolish groupwork. But we should use it a lot more judiciously than we do today."
  • "...if you have a real problem to solve, a creative problem. For example, you want to send people off by themselves to brainstorm on their own.
    And then once they've come up with their best ideas, then bring them together in a group and exchange those ideas. But it's crucial to have the solitary aspect first."
  • Many creative people have deep introverted streaks
  • Another strength is introverts' level of concentration
  • "... introverted leaders deliver better outcomes than extroverts do when they're managing proactive employees.
    And the reason is that they are more likely to let those employees actually run with their great proactive ideas, whereas extroverts can kind of get so excited about what's going on, and they're more dominant. They put their own stamp on things more. So other people's ideas don't as easily rise to the surface."
  • Western culture values extroverts over introverts. A culture of personality has replaced a culture of character
    • "In our society, the ideal self is bold, gregarious, and comfortable in the spotlight. We like to think that we value individuality, but mostly we admire the type of individual who’s comfortable “putting himself out there.” Our schools, workplaces, and religious institutions are designed for extroverts. Introverts are to extroverts what American women were to men in the 1950s -- second-class citizens with gigantic amounts of untapped talent." - Interview
  • "Many introverts feel there’s something wrong with them, and try to pass as extroverts."
  • Parents and educators should encourage/nurture introverts' talents, be patient with their inwardness, but still challenge them to grow/learn/try/stretch as much as they can in a way that works for that child
  • Introverts are not anti-social, just differently social
  • Jon Berghoff "But in sales there's a truism that 'we have two ears and one mouth and we should use them proportionately."

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