“The terms ‘introvert’ and ‘extrovert’ were first made popular by psychologist Carl Jung in the 1920s and then later by the Myers-Briggs personality test, used in major universities and corporations.” (Goudreau, 2012, para.5). According to Susan Cain, introverts typically prefer less stimulating environments and are more inclined to enjoy times of quiet concentration. They have tendencies to think before they speak and typically prefer to listen more than they talk. Conversely, extroverts crave large amounts of stimulation and are energized by social situations. Extroverts tend to be assertive multi-taskers, who are boisterous and prefer to think out loud and on their feet. (The Power of Introverts, 2012).
Cain also shares with us that a third to one half of the population are introverts and that we as society need to be aware of this and make room for them both within our classrooms as well as within the workforce. We need to be aware of the introverts need for solitude, giving them the time and space required for them to thrive.
With the way in which education and workplace settings are organized and run today, it would seem like it is very much an extroverts’ world. Educational and workforce settings all seem to promote this vision of extroverts in the constant collaboration and sharing of ideas. This, however, can all be very detrimental to the introverts who require solitude and their own personal space to recharge and be innovative. As Cain mentions some of the most innovative people in history were introverts and without these people our world would not be what it is today.
Susan Cain also speaks about the fact that people are never exclusively introverted or extroverted but fall somewhere within the framework of the introvert extrovert spectrum. This is important to note as different traits may be more noticeable in people during specific situations, so one must not make an assumption as to the personality traits of others based off one particular interaction. I wholeheartedly agree with Cain in that it is necessary to make room in society for people who fall in all different ranges of the introvert extrovert spectrum as each individual brings their own unique perspective and traits to the table thus providing us with a more diverse and well rounded society.
The reason I so passionately feel that there needs to be room in society for those who fall in various points along the introvert extrovert spectrum is because I would consider myself to be an ambivert, someone who falls in the middle of this spectrum. In certain aspects of my life or in various settings I can be extremely extroverted and I thrive on the social interactions with others. However, each and everyday I also need to take time to just be by myself, with my own thoughts and recharge. I have recognized these as my own personal needs and I believe that it is because of this that I am compassionate towards my introverted students and try to accommodate their needs as best I can.
Studies have found many differences between an introvert’s brain compared to an extrovert’s. One key difference is that information travels a longer pathway through an introvert’s brain. This causes [them] to process information more deeply and is likely why [they] take longer to verbalize [their] thoughts. (Chung, 2017).
Due to my awareness from my own personal ‘introvert’ needs, as well as from information gained while completing readings for this assignment, I am even more aware of my need as an instructor to allow my introverted students to have the personal time and space they need. That being said, I still feel that it is necessary to promote collaboration with their peers so at this point I do not think that I will change my practices much as I already utilize various strategies to allow for different participation methods for my introverted students.
When I have whole class discussions planned, I like to incorporate the think-pair-share teaching strategy first as I find this is a way to allow introverted students the time to digest the material and share their thoughts with only one other classmate. Due to the fact that my introverted students have now shared their ideas with their partner, these ideas are then often shared by the partner with the whole class once we open the discussion up. This helps to ensure that the introverted students’ ideas and insights are still being shared with the class which helps to enrich the conversation.
Another strategy I use when having class discussions is to hand out a copy the questions we will be discussing. This gives introverted students a chance to see what we will be discussing ahead of time, giving then the necessary time to formulate their thoughts. If any students do not feel like openly sharing their insights with the class that day I allow them to hand in their written reflections instead. I then summarize these students’ reflections and share them with the class, as this contributes to the whole classes learning. Utilizing the above strategies allows me to ensure all students are participating but allows students to participate in a method that is conducive to their own personal learning style.
Chung, M. (2017). What is an introvert. Retrieved from http://introvertspring.com/what-is-an-introvert/
Goudreau, J. (2012). The secret power of introverts. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/jennagoudreau/2012/01/26/the-secret-power-of-introverts/#2bf22a327cdf
TED [screen name]. (2012). The power of introverts| Susan Cain. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0KYU2j0TM4