Striking a Chord

On the trail, when you take that first step, you never know where it is going to lead or what you are going to find. Will you end up in snow-frosted grove of hemlocks? At a babbling, bubbling frenzy of a brook rushing past a craggy rockface? On a summit with a 360 degree view of the autumnal splendor? Will you stumble across some funky fungi, wildflowers or wildlife?

It’s the same way with this blog. I had no idea when I wrote my post, Some Thoughts on Introversion, that I would have struck such a chord with my readers or that I was posting about such an au courant topic. The inspiration for the post was a TED talk that was a year old. And yet, it seems that this important subject is on the minds of many today. Within hours of posting I had heard from a fellow blogger who referred me to an article in The Atlantic (unbeknownst to me, published just the previous day), “Introverted Kids Need to Learn to Speak Up at School”, had a conversation with a neighbor who is currently reading Susan Cain’s book, got a Liebster Award from The Introvert Files and recorded more views than any previous post.

And then, this morning, in my Twitter feed, I came across this post on the blog Read, Write, Reflect-Speaking Up in the Classroom, Katherine Sokolowski’s response to the Atlantic article. I could have written this myself. Her closing sums up the article, but please take a moment to read the whole thing:

“Education should not be geared only to the kids who speak up because those quiet kids in the back, the ones slinking down in their seats, they have something to contribute too. We just need to let them find their own way.”

I believe that there may be some juggling of apples and oranges in the Atlantic article. In it, Jessica Lahey stated:

“If anything, I feel even more strongly that my introverted students must learn how to self-advocate by communicating with parents, educators, and the world at large.”

I applaud the idea of self-advocacy, but that is an entirely different animal than class participation. To me, self-advocacy is being able to speak up in a small group or one-on-one situation when it is critical to be heard;  it is not the ability to speak in front of crowds. Let’s also remember that introversion does not equal “shy”. The original premise of Susan Cain’s talk and the impetus for my previous post was that introverts often do their best work in quiet, solitary explorations. It is not just a matter of shy vs. outgoing. It is how individuals recharge, what they need to do their best learning.  So, I am going to watch my silent kids a little more carefully from now on. If they’re not paying attention or fooling around or being lazy, they may get called on. But, if they are just quiet, I’ll remind myself that silence is golden.

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One Comment on “Striking a Chord”

  1. nrkellner says:

    This SLJ blog post is worth reading: http://blogs.slj.com/teacozy/2013/02/08/speak-up-already/
    (and not just because my blog entry is listed at the end!)


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