Allowing room for introversion in education
Nov 2, 2015-Outstanding results, Mr Khanal”, said the school coordinator, with a copy of my mark-sheet from a recent exam held gently in his hands. “You have outperformed our expectations, once again.”
Though it should have been a matter of pride for me, standing in his cold, scentless office that day, I was more perplexed about it than I was proud.
After all, nobody would ever get called to the coordinator’s office for breaking the school’s score records.“But the teachers have been complaining about your class-participation, Ujjwal, and I’m not sure if you can continue your winning streak if you don’t change things soon enough. A tad more interaction with your teachers, are we clear?”
“Yes, sir,” I mumbled, and walked away.
It was an act of pure, almost parental concern from the school’s side for which I couldn’t possibly admire them more, but as I left the office that day I couldn’t help but be saddened at how they too had made an all-too-common error that several institutions and teachers have been making all along my 15 years of schooling—mistaking introversion for shyness.
Shyness is a fear of social judgment, while introversion is a natural affinity for solitude coming from within. Introverts feel most alive and capable when they are in quiet, low-key environment, whereas extroverts require stimulation from extensive social communication. Regarding education, several researches have shown introverted students to perform better than their extroverted counterparts, which isn’t surprising given the amount of time introverts spend within themselves.
Contrary to this empirical finding, however, the ideal student for most teachers has always been an extrovert while introverted students are often met with prejudice and judgment. Particularly in our education scene, quiet children face an irrational bias against them, which results in them feeling that their natural tendency to remain reserved is a matter of sympathy, requiring immediate correction. As a result, a pressure to act more like their extroverted counterparts develop, which may prove lethal to their inborn creativity.
A growing majority of schools, unfortunately, have been modifying their educating process to better suit the need of extroverts to communicate. My own school’s kindergarten class, which had rows of benches and desks before, has now been replaced with two giant tables around which the students sit and ‘discuss’ the possible solutions, forcing ‘groupwork’ even in subjects like mathematics where individual intuition is needed most. This lack of suitable thinking environment barriers the creative thought processes in introverts.
Considering the fact that they occupy a third to a half of the world population, this is ultimately leading to a world with less ideas. None of this is to say that social skills or group dynamics isn’t important. But as problems rising in our society get more complex by the minute, it is mandatory that we find a way for introverts and their creative energies to reach an easy and accessible outlet. Immediate changes in our schooling institutions and more so in our attitude are thus a must to achieve this state of balance where, hopefully, both introverts and extraverts can contribute to their world to the fullest.
Khanal is +2 graduate from KMC Higher Secondary School
Published: 02-11-2015 08:04