Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop TalkingQuiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking is a powerful and important book.

Quiet heightens my awareness of how extroverted students thrive on group work and class discussion while introverts thrive on opportunities for quiet reflection and expression, either on their own or with a very small group of co-thinkers. I know plenty of educators and others who believe that group work and class discussion are more valuable real-world skills than those offered to the world by introverts. That belief is a myth, and Susan Cain proves it in Quiet through study after study explained in clear, engaging language.

The fact is that extroverts tend to dominate the spotlight and microphone as they shout the glories of their own attributes while introverts tend to avoid doing that. So the societal message that comes through is the extroverted version of things, and then it becomes a convoluted but self-fulfilling prophecy.

The ideas in Quiet also have enormous implications for teacher professional development. In order for introverts to contribute to meaningful collaboration with other teachers, a reflective design is needed. Introverts are likely to contribute more in-depth, nuanced ideas to collaborative efforts, but they need a different model than what we frequently see in PLC-based schools where teachers have no choice regarding with whom they collaborate, what they discuss, or how and when their “learning” is reported. (For teachers and professional development designers, Jane Kise’s Creating a Coaching Culture for Professional Learning Communities (Solution Tree 2010) can be a useful companion to Quiet.)

Quiet also delves into implications of introversion and extroversion for the business world, parenting, and relationships.

If any of what I’ve said here sounds remotely relevant, please do yourself a favor and read Quiet. I saw myself on almost every page.

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  1. Gary,

    I appreciate how you brought this back to the perspective of education. I think our Ning is one way for our more introverted students to find a way to contribute meaningful ideas, but I’m definitely looking for more. As you saw, this is on my to-read list. Thanks for the review!


  2. I often feel like I have a split personality because I feel more extroverted in the professional realm but more introverted personally. I bet this book would help illustrate how/why I may adapt to each situation. Just added this to my Goodreads to read list!


  3. Wow, thanks for the review! Sounds like I definitely need to read this, both as an introvert and as a teacher of introverts.


  4. Glenda Funk says:

    I’m so glad you like “Quiet,” Gary. I think about the book often as I feel increasingly challenged by the “noise” many promote in the classroom. Even though my NCTE session is about promoting classroom conversations, I think Susan Cain’s book has important implications about how to do this, too.


  5. jaclynderose says:

    Just added this book to my to-read list. I had heard about it and was very intrigued, and you sold me. This book sells me even more (if that is possible) on the value of blogging, collaborative discussions on the Ning, journaling, and self-selected independent reading. I also makes me reconsider midterm comment choices like, ‘Needs to participate more in class discussion.’ If we are using a wide variety of tools, there are plenty of ways to participate for every type of student. As someone who was painfully shy and quiet her freshman year (friends joke that I talk like I’m still making up for lost time), I know how difficult it can be to raise your hand. I remember those internal monologues with myself, “Just do it! Come on. Raise your hand. You know this! it’s not a big deal.” But for me, it was. I would receive those ‘Needs to participate’ type of marks on my progress reports, and I was always somewhat frustrated because I was participating. I was engaged. However, just to play devil’s advocate with myself, those comments did encourage me to step up a bit and push myself. Otherwise, I have no idea how I’d be a teacher today. Still, much of that introvert remains. Participating at staff meetings and (EEK!) Writers Week still eludes me. Someday.


  6. Pingback: My Books for 2012 | What's Not Wrong?

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