Introverted? Or Something Else?

I’ve been reading and thinking about this article from The Atlantic magazine, “Introverted Kids Need to Learn to Speak Up at School” by Jessica Lahey. Specifically, she talks about asking questions and the difference between the “extroverts” and the “introverts.”

This is no problem for the extroverts, who live for the opportunity to talk about their ideas. However, I also teach introverts, who live in fear of being asked these sorts of questions.

Hmmm… back up the truck here for a second. Introverts “liv[ing] in fear of being asked these sorts of questions”?

I knew a lot of classmates who were introverts, and never recall them being terrified of being asked a question that required more than a “yes” or “no” answer. I remember kids (both intro- and extraverts) not being prepared and not wanting the teacher to call on them. I remember kids whose classroom participation drew snickers and giggles from some of their classmates. I remember some kids being bored out of their minds and drifting off, only to be shocked back into reality when the teacher suddenly asks them, “So, what do you think of that?” There were kids who, hearing that good students are quiet and studious (but mostly quiet), took it to heart. And there were the kids that were scared not to write down everything the teacher said, for fear that they would miss something that might be on an exam, and were so busy scrawling notes that they weren’t prepared to be called on. At one time or another, I was the kid in each of these situations, and I would guess that most of you were, too.

Being introverted is not about being a shrinking violet. Where an extrovert is energized by being with people, introverts are energized by time spent alone. That doesn’t mean introverts don’t like people or are intimidated by them. The difference is, where an extrovert relaxes by talking with his or her friends on the phone or participating in after-school activities, the introvert relaxes by reading, doing homework, pursuing a hobby, or watching TV.

The point is, being introverted isn’t the same as being shy or unwilling to participate in class. There are kids that have to be drawn out of their shell, but they aren’t all introverts. There are extroverts who want nothing to do with class discussions. Not every extrovert lives for the opportunity to share their ideas.

There might be a study about this already and I’m just not aware of it (hey, I can’t know everything), but it would be interesting to give students the MBTI and compare the results on the introversion/extroversion facet with the qualitative assessment of the teachers who see the kids every day. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a correlation, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if the correlation was not statistically significant, and that other factors were a better predictor of classroom participation.

That’s my two cents. What do you think? I’d be interested to know.

Pray For Peace Today

Today in the US is the day we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., civil rights leader, great orator, and advocate of nonviolent protest.

Sad to say, maybe the people who need prayers for peace and understanding are Dr. King’s three children, Martin, Bernice, and Dexter. They are currently locked in a legal battle over some of their father’s property, namely his Nobel medal and his travel Bible. The boys want to sell the items, while Bernice wants to hold onto them.

The King family has always been protective of their father’s likeness and intellectual property. I have no problem with that. He might be a national hero to us, but he was their father, and when their mother was alive, her husband. The last thing I want to see happen is for Macy’s to decide that Dr. King’s holiday is a good excuse to have a sale. He was a spiritual leader above all else.

I don’t know Dr. King’s children, but they live in Atlanta, and are contemporaries of mine. When Dr. King spoke of having a dream where white children and black children went to school together, I think how his kids and I might have gone to school together. I’m fond of them, and I hate to see them fighting.

When Mom made me her executor, she told me, “it’s just stuff.” But I know how people get attached to things that once belonged to relatives. My family holds on to the belongings of family members who have gone before them as though they were sacred relics. And they are. But the most precious thing to Dr. King, even more than the civil rights he fought so tirelessly for, or his Nobel medal, or the Bible he carried with him when he traveled, was his family. It would be a tragedy if they were to lose that.