I’m starting to worry.

The title to this is a teeny bit misleading, I know. I always worry. It’s part of who I am.

Given that, the title should be “I’m starting to worry about all this collaboration-focused education doing disservice to the introverts in schools” but that wouldn’t fit. I just posted a new Tangential last night, and it deals with Introverts and Extroverts and Lord of the Flies. But that got me thinking (again) about how we accomodate those two personality types in the classroom.

We’ve been putting a tremendous amount of faith in the power of collaboration in the classroom- and I’m not saying that’s entirely a bad thing. There’s a lot of good that comes out of collaboration, and there’s a lot of collaboration that goes on in the working world. It’s an important skill, and it suits the extroverts in the room well.

But our rooms aren’t full of extroverts- they’re full of a mix of extroverts and introverts, and with all the focus being put on the extroverts in the room, I worry about the smaller group of introverts being ignored. Susan Cain makes a good point surrounding this in her TED talk on the subject- and while when that came out there was a bit of nodding and agreeing on the subject, I haven’t seen anything actually done about it. I wonder about the spread of introvert vs extrovert among classroom teachers- are we overwhelmingly extroverts? Is the performance aspect of what we do attracting significantly more extrovert and therefore skewing our ideas about teaching the general population?

Maybe I’m sensitive to this sort of thing- maybe years of being put on the spot in classrooms has made me overly shy about doing the same thing to a student. Maybe the current view is that students that are introverts need to be trained how to be more extroverted in the classroom. Maybe extroverts need to likewise be trained to be more introverted in classrooms.

I don’t know why. I’m not sure why each group can’t be taught to use what they have as a gift and work with it. I’m not sure why we have to be compelled to try to change the fundamental nature of how student function.

I think the better plan is to teach students how to exploit the way they work- teach the introverts to embrace the introversion and the extroverts to use theirs. It seems obvious- as they’ll want to function that way in life anyway. The ambiverts in the room can practice moving between the two.