Quiet by @susancain

February 12, 2016 Leave a comment Go to comments

I just read Quiet by Susan Cain.  As I look at how I treat students, teachers, friends, my own children, I wonder if I am doing all I can for the introverts around me.  I do believe that introversion and extroversion is very situational.  In some situations, I am an extrovert. In others, I am an introvert. I just found her website at Quiet Revolution and took the test.  It listed me as an ambivert – which makes sense.

The introduction discusses the idea that the world would not be the same without some incredible Introverts.  Cain is stating that it takes all kind to make the world go round and we can’t just turn the whole society into Extroverts.  Cain has a short test in there to see which the reader is and she also defines Extroverts, Introverts and Ambiverts.

In the early 20th century, Dale Carnegie begins teaching classes on how to be a great salesperson, which translates roughly into how to be an Extrovert.  Since then, being social has become a skill.  Toastmaster Clubs have popped up all over the country to help Introverts pretend to be Extroverts when they need to.  Harvard Business School teaches their students that if they want to be successful they have to be more extroverted. Harvard Business School is creating leaders and in their mind, leaders must be vocal.

Everywhere you look extroverts are taking over. It describes the Christian Evangelical movement as one that has taken extroverts to a new level. In order to connect people, everyone thinks you need to be an extrovert, but even the introvert Craig Newmark (creator of Craig’s List) created a website that connects people.  The Rosa Parks of the world are balanced by the Martin Luther King, Jr.  Can society have one without the other?  Would Rosa Parks seat on the bus made such an impact if she was an extrovert?  Stephen Wozniak describes himself as an introvert and when he created the first PC, he was always alone.

The Internet’s role in collaboration has also made a large contribution to the ideas of cooperative learning, corporate teamwork and open office plans.   “We came to value transparency and to knock down walls – not only online but also in person.” (p79).   This open office plan idea does not help some creative types that need “deliberate practice” or “serious study alone” time. “Excessive stimulation seems to impede learning. ” (p85)  Studies show that performance is worse as group size increases.   This doesn’t explain Linux or Wikipedia which was a giant collaboration, but people weren’t face-to-face.  Remember to give introverts their time for alone time and the extroverts time for collaboration – this should be flexible.

Kagan did many studies on highly reactive and low reactive children to see how these children become introverts and extroverts.  The studies revealed that the highly reactive children become introverts. Kagan believes that it could be both nature or nurture and this is just one way to see if babies will be introverts. David Dobbs of the Atlantic argues that “many children are like dandelions, able to thrive in just about any environment. But others, including the high-reactive types that Kagan studied, are more like orchids: they wilt easily, but under the right conditions can grow strong and magnificent.”

The author also discusses the idea that even if you are an introvert, if you are passionate about something, you could appear like an extrovert and not even mind public speaking. Schools are propagating the idea that all students must learn collaboration, but for the introvert this can be scary territory.

At the end of the book, Susan Cain gives many resources, including questions to determine how introvert you are, tips for public speaking for introverts, and tips for parents and educators of introverted kids.

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