Teachers and Introverted Students
Introverted Students Are Often Misunderstood or Worse!
One in three students can be classified as introverted. However, the educational system is geared to the extroverted student majority. The school environment has a rapid pace which requires and rewards quick thinking/analysis, group interaction/participation, and competition. While the school environment reward and applaud the extroverted student, the introvert student is often at a loss in this type of school system.
Introverted students are often the odd students out in this type of school system. Introverted students often have a different mindset, interaction, and learning style from the extroverted student. Teachers often do not or fail to understand the introverted students in their midst.
To many teachers, introverted students are viewed as outside the paradigm. Introverted students are often viewed by teachers as abnormal, backward, withdrawn, and lacking in the social skills. Teachers are under the impression that extroverted students are more normal, savvy, and self-aware than their introverted counterparts.
Many teachers believe that children should be boisterous and social. They consider the extroverted student to be the "idea student". However, there are some children whose typology classify them as being introverted. Introverted children often prefer solitary activities such as reading and sketching to more extroverted activities such as playing in a group. Many teachers simply do not understand the preferences of their introverted students.
Oftentimes, teachers misdiagnose their introvert students as needed psychological help to enhance their social skills. Many introverted students are classified by such teachers as socially retarded and are often retained or left behind until they acquire "reasonable social skills and elan", especially at the preschool and elementary school level, because it is believed that these children are not as socially advanced as their more extroverted peers. Many introverted students are often seen as less developed than they actually are because they are not as interactive with their peers like their extroverted counterparts are.
I was reading a parent blog on the internet which a concerned parents indicated that although her introverted son at the elementary school level was gifted, the teacher decided to hold him back a grade and not to promote him because he was "too quiet" in class. The mother reported that her son was a high academic achiever who read a couple of grades beyond the elementary school level. It was the teacher's assessment that the student was "slow" because he did not participate much in class. Clearly, this teacher did not understand the concept and typology of introversion!
Teachers often express concern to the parents of introverted children. These teachers view the issue of their particular students' introversion and quietness negatively. These teachers often recommend that the parents enroll their introverted child in a myriad of activities to "get them out of their shell" so to speak. However, enrolling an introverted child in a myriad of activities would only do a disservice to him/her. The introverted child is content either to be alone and/or to indulge in only a few activities.
There are some teachers who view introverted children as less intelligent and slower than they actually are. They are absorbing societal mandates that extroverted people, including children, are more intelligent because they are more vocal and outgoing. Even though the introverted student have demonstrated himself/herself to be an extraordinary and high achieving student, the teacher still considered him/her to be inadequate. Many teachers value social skills over academic skills.
There are some teachers who actively dislike and bullying introverted children. According to these teachers, introverted children need to "person up"., "toughen up", and to get out of his/her own shell. Oftentimes, these teachers have the participation of more extroverted students in their egregious acts to help "make the introverted student more sociable".
There are teachers who believe that introverted students are wallflowers and have no personality to speak of. They further believe that these students do not possess the willpower to be successful and dynamic in their lives. They reserved the idea of being dynamic and successful to their more extroverted students.
Many teachers further contend that their introverted students are either psychotic or worse. They do not have the concept that there are students who are more serious, insightful, and less gregarious than most. There are teachers who refer their more introverted students to psychiatric counselling or worse! They just do not believe that children and/or young people actually prefer to indulge in solitary and/or intellectual activities and/or to have few or no friends. To such teachers, these are atypical and abnormal actions!
However, there are some teachers who embrace the typology of the introverted student. They know that many introverted students are quite gifted and all they need is encouragement, not derision of their typology. They also know that the introverted student have special gifts such as being a deep thinker and insight which the extroverted student often do not possess. Many introverted students also follow the path of the different drummer. Introverted students are individualists, not crowd followers. It is the rare teacher who appreciates and nurture the uniqueness of the introverted student.
In summation, introverted students comprise one-third of the student population. However, the school system is geared to the needs of the extroverted student. This makes the introverted student the odd one out. Many teachers oftentimes do not or fail to understand the introverted student.
The introverted student is often viewed by teachers as socially slow and inept. Although the introverted student can be extremely gifted, he/she is viewed by many teachers as being developmentally slow. Oftentimes, many introverted students are misdiagnosed because of their typology and are often held back a grade until they require "reasonable social skills."
There are some teachers who actually dislike and bully introverted students. These teachers believe that by doing this, they are toughening up their introverted students and preparing them for the real world. Some teachers actually view their introverted students as pathological and in need of deep psychiatric therapy or worse.
However, there are some teachers who understand the typology of their introverted students. These teachers viewed their introverted students, not as failed extroverts but as a legitimate personality type to be respected and nurtured. Of course, such teachers are rare but it behooves us to understand the personality of the introverted student in the classroom and to nurture his/her gifts to his/her ultimate human potential.
Books on the Subject
© 2011 Grace Marguerite Williams