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.