Dotty Andragogy

The amusing musings of an adult educator in the corporate training world.

The Extrovert Ideal

on October 22, 2014

Ever since reading Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, I have been fascinated with the introverts vs. extroverts topic, especially in relation to learning. Cain posits that Western culture has increasingly adopted an “Extrovert Ideal” over the past generations, favouring the louder, bolder, more effervescent individuals over our quieter, more reserved, contemplative counterparts. In her book, Cain dispels the myth of the Extrovert Ideal, and urges changes at the workplace, in schools and in parenting to embrace and capitalize on the unique strengths that introverts deliver.

Recognizing that I need to create a system that rewards quality over quantity to improve the substance and depth of group discussions in my classroom, I have already implemented several of Cain’s suggestions to encourage the participation of introverted learners.

I also recently learned this questioning technique from a classmate, useful especially to balance the contributions between introverts who tend to keep to themselves, and extroverts who dominate group discussions:

  1. Choose five students at random.
  2. Walk over to each student one by one, while the class is engaged in group or individual work. Tell them that you will call on them soon to answer a question. You can give the question now or wait to give it orally.

As my classmate pointed out, this prompting–even a few minutes in advance–gives students time to prepare (perhaps by asking for help) and increases confidence. If consistently done at random, students won’t be able to predict a pattern, and it can increase engagement.

I’m off to try this out tomorrow!


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