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We are a noisy bunch, the society of today. We collaborate to problem solve, we are often made to work in teams and learn in groups. This in itself is not necessarily bad, in fact it’s ideal for extroverted kids, the ones who thrive off the dynamics of group energy. But I’d like to shed light on those quieter voices, the ones who actually become less productive and less energised by these environments – the introverted kids.
Between one-third to a half of the population falls into the personality category of ‘introvert’. Introvert is different to being shy, it’s about how you respond to stimulation. Introverts feel more connected and switched on when they are in quiet environments. It is in peaceful conditions that introverts do their best problem solving, creating, thinking and learning.
Think for a moment about the average classroom. It’s often rowdy, noisy, desks are set up in pods and often learning assignments are prescribed in group formats. Take this further down the road to offices and work places, which are often open plan and team led. You will see that we are somewhat stacking the odds against the introverts.
Research shows that in groups, people tend to adopt the opinions and ideas of the loudest member of the group, this doesn’t necessarily mean they are adopting the best ideas. We tend to promote more vocal people, socially and professionally. But introverts have a lot to offer in leadership roles. Eleanor Roosevelt, Ghandi and Steve Wozniac who invented the first Apple computer, were all introverts, sharing their quiet voices with the world.
We owe it to our kids, to foster the best learning environment most conducive to their zone of stimulation. Whilst we can’t control the set up of every classroom and assignment, we should be mindful to accommodate both the introverts and the extroverts. So aside from all of the sociable learning and role play and team work, here are some ways to help introverts find their zone too:
• Help build deep meaning into learning – introverts tend to be deep thinkers and like to attach deep meaning to their understanding.
• Give them time to formulate their thoughts, alone – this is where the magic happens for them, in solitude.
• Give them alternate means of participation. Perhaps a written report, or a pre-prepared video presentation is more comfortable for an introvert.