What’s the best educational environment for young introverts?

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A 28 year old educator from Texas submitted the following:

This question goes out to introverts who remember their school days and parents of introverted children in schools. Having struggled a lot in my schooling with the extrovert-oriented environment (from lots of games and speaking/reading aloud in the earlier years to group projects and “class participation” grades in later years…not to mention the full school days of non-stop peer interaction!), I wonder how other introverts have fared. As I became a teacher myself, I’ve noticed that a lot of other teachers tend to be extroverts and can harshly criticize and misunderstand introverted students, making frustrated comments like, “So-and-so doesn’t talk!” or “This class is too quiet!”

Has anyone found an introvert-friendly K-12 educational environment (thankfully, I’ve found education beyond that to be *much* more balanced and introvert-friendly)? Or, if you were to create such an environment, what would it look like?

Photo credit: Elizabeth Albert

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31 Comments

  1. I think more educators should be aware on this so they will become more sensitive on this matter. From what I experienced in college, I think my professors dealt with class’ introverts quite well by asking those who wants to participate to talk and respect those who choose to keep their opinions within their selves.

  2. I’ve always HATED discussion groups of any size. The thought of talking through issues irritates me beyond belief. I prefer the “I do, we do, you do” type of learning whereby the teacher will demonstrate something, then do it with me, then let me do it on my own. When I’m doing it on my own is when I make mistakes and that makes me learn the most.

  3. Why would you want them to become extroverts? It’s not a life choice!! It’s a scientific difference. Introverts are the smartest people you could expect to meet because they are deep natural thinkers. Why would we want to become extroverts who can not keep a thought to themselves and exhaust those around them by speaking every damn thought they have.

  4. During my school days I was also a very introverted. My teachers would really favor me though and sometimes gave me special treatment! It was usually the extroverted students who talked a lot during class that were punished for acting out. There was one thing that we had to do during class that really helped me get over being so shy though. It was this thing where all the students would form a big circle facing each other and compliment anyone else in the class one by one.
    Diana´s last post ..How to Do Reiki on Youself

  5. My child is an introvert. I tried so hard to socialize her and she simply wont. The teacher is always asking if she was studying her lessons and I told her that she there was no problem with this area and is actually better than other students. She just don’t show it to others since she is an introvert. I gave myself as an example of an introvert individual that has been very successful in life despite being socially handicapped.

  6. I think my professors dealt with class’ introverts quite well by asking those who wants to participate to talk and respect those who choose to keep their opinions within their selves.it’s kind a new for me i should come back and read some updates too
    Melan´s last post ..You and Your First Job

      • Personality problem? What exactly is wrong with students who are naturally bright, tend to listen and observe their environment, and don’t insist on constantly talking? Just because we prefer not to yammer about doesn’t mean we have a problem. It’s people like you that create these false perceptions.

    • You realize that introverts don’t have social issues right? We just don’t do small talk. If we have something to say, we say it, and if we don’t we observe and learn. That’s how we work. We analyze while the rest of the world is busy being the center of attention so that when we do talk, we know what we’re saying. I hate it when people assume I’m anti-social simply because I prefer to listen instead of rambling.

  7. Sometimes, the introverts are the choice victims of the bullies. The teacher should be alert to signs that the bullies are zeroing in on anybody. While I believe that being an introvert is a type of personality which, realistically, will take quite some time to change, the teacher can take measures to draw them out of their shells. Pairing the children off to those with lively personalities can help to slowly make them socialize with the classmates.
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  8. I have been to several schools so far (various levels) and I’ve yet to find one where introverts are treated ok…Even in my last school, introverted kids who didn’t like speaking up in class had points deducted from their grade, even if they had a perfect score on their written assignments.

  9. What would it look like?

    Teachers would not call on students “out of the blue” to answer a question.

    Teachers take 10 minutes with each student every month to better understand what makes each student “tick” and to answer any questions or concerns they might have.

    And last, but not least…NO MORE GODFORSAKEN GROUP WORK. 😉

  10. I’m not an educator or expert in this field, but there’s one thing that I have realized. Introverted children need to be encouraged to pursue activities that they enjoy and are passionate about. By doing so, they will meet others with similar interests.

    My 10 year old niece is an introvert that has a passion for art and poetry. Last year she participated in an after school poetry group that she loved attending. To reduce her fear prior to her first class, I sat down with her and she wrote a few poems about nature for children. I posted her poems on my hobby poetry website and that gave her the courage for her first class. I gave her my laptop and she was not focusing on her shyness but rather on showcasing her work.

  11. I think with the social networking sites around, there is so much more for an introvert child to express and that may find it very comfortable to write and express, rather than spanking and communicating face to face.
    Binny´s last post ..Certified Medical Assistant

  12. Ugh I always hated school. It’s so much easier to learn on my own when people aren’t always talking and giving me suggestions on how I should do things. Honestly, I wish people could just learn on their own if they wanted to. It would be far more efficient and it wouldn’t waste 8 hours of nonsense everyday. I’m just glad I get to work in a quieter environment these days.

  13. Freedom is the number one essential environment for an introvert to flourish. The moment that too many restrictions start to come into play… that is when it all starts to go downhill.
    I’m not sayin that some kind of restriction isn’t needed. But the minimum is the best. The least amount of have and have nots is best.
    I thrive best when i have a bit of a structure but also enough freedom to implemnet the structure that fits for me. It’ so essential in my own life that I make sure that my kids have plenty of freedom themselves.
    I teach my boys to give space to each other so they can thrive.
    All the best,
    Eren
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  14. Here are my suggestions:
    first, recognize that not all introverts are the same (as these comments demonstrate), so begin by LISTENING and watching them. Some introverts will have one or two close friends … there’s your answer: let them do group things with ‘their’ group.

    Second: remember that introversion sometimes is a barrier to success. Maybe it shouldn’t be a problem to be overcome, but in some ways it is. I know a girl who was accepted and nurtured by a sub-group of kids who later chose hair and clothing styles that are fine personal expressions, but will never do much for getting them a job or being able to operate with confidence in the larger communities of “normal” people. If a child’s introversion makes it harder for her to succeed, she’ll need extra help. If her avoidance of social interraction is due to fear – then sometimes the noise of that fear is so loud she won’t even hear lessons or be able to develop communication skills that will serve her.

    Finally, let the child know you “see” him, you like him, and he can trust you. Then never betray that trust. Give him time with yourself – and don’t put him in a situation where he’ll have anything to fear. Extraverts don’t need this – they have each other. But the introverts will flourish when they’re getting special, private winks and nods and help from the teacher. And through you, they’ll come to know that there are a few people they can really work with.

  15. Most of my teachers worked well with both extroverted and introverted students. I feel lucky that I had so many wonderful teachers from elementary school all the way through college.

    There were a few, though, that didn’t get it. One teacher actually joked, after a student had a problem with my being so quiet, “You know there are homes for people like you?” That happened in junior high, and I’ve obviously never been able to forget that comment. It hurt so much. Sadly, I’m sure she treated other students that way.
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  16. I found the consstency in my early classmates was key. I went to a small school and though we had a few people come and go there was a core group of about seven or eight of us (out of a class of fifteen at most) who grew up in the same community and went to the same classes for playschool to grade nine. The early years were difficult but we all grew used to each other. My teachers didn’t always understant (actualy outside of a select couple none realy did), one actualy had me labeled as mentaly handicapped or retarded. But my classmates knew me. They learned to tell when I was ‘on’ or ‘off’ and for the most part respected that(kids will be kids). We learned about each other and while we may not all have been ‘friends forever’, we knew and respected each other. Group work was also easier as we knew each others strenths and had to spend less time on the chit chat getting to know. That was the worst part of group work in highschool, the chit chat. So I think small consistent classes, with a core group of students. It worked for me. Hope this helps!

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  18. When I was in grade school I used to be an introvert. Doing things , eating in the school canteen alone. I’m good in school so there are a lot that want to be my friends. However, I still want to be alone. However, as time goes by and as I grow old I learn on how mingle with other people. BTW, the good thing is I haven’t encounter a teacher like that..

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