Introverted learning

Boy, do I get this:

The way in which certain instructional trends—education buzzwords like “collaborative learning” and “project-based learning” and “flipped classrooms”—are applied often neglect the needs of introverts. In fact, these trends could mean that classroom environments that embrace extroverted behavior—through dynamic and social learning activities—are being promoted now more than ever. These can be appealing qualities in the classroom, of course, but overemphasizing them can undermine the learning of students who are inward-thinking and easily drained by constant interactions with others.

The “learning environments” they describe would be a nightmare for me. Extroverts often seem like idiots to me. Unserious and generally incapable of really concentrated work. Group projects are also great for the lazy. Fantastically useful habits of getting others to do the work can be the foundation for a lifetime of managerial work in the public service.

This growing emphasis in classrooms on group projects and other interactive arrangements can be challenging for introverted students who tend to perform better when they’re working independently and in more subdued environments. Comprising anywhere from one third to about half of the population, introverts sometimes appear shy, depressed, or antisocial, when that’s not always the case. As Susan Cain put it in her famous TED Talk, introverts simply “feel at their most alive and their most switched-on and their most capable when they’re in quieter, more low-key environments.”

And do I see this:

Many of my own high-school students regularly request extended sessions of silent reading. Some prefer learning with the fluorescent classroom lights off, instead relying on the softer sunlight coming in through the window. Some admit to enjoying the opportunity to work in a quiet room and are eager to write about certain prompts for as long as I let them.

Talking about what you are doing with others is a genuine benefit. It brings out what is latent and listening to more than one voice trying to explain things adds dimension. But it has to be in an environment when it is possible to withdraw into oneself. I have been very fortunate all of my career that I have been employed to work on my own to produce whatever my workplace required. Collaborative is good sometimes, but it hardly needs to be taught.

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