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April 2, 2012 / compassioninpolitics

Is our educational system designed for introverts or extroverts?

I just watched this TED talk too and had some of the same reactions as you….but still some heavy reservations about the nature of her talk:

1) Schools aren’t design for introverts or extroverts–they are designed as systems of mass production. The sage on the stage doesn’t cultivate or teach to extroverts–if anything it turns us into non-speakers. Certainly, classrooms and curriculums are being re-designed to be more human centric and to realize the value. Its probably something to pay attention to in design and even to help make group activities work better.

2) Group work often integrates individual work and solitude. Or perhaps the ability to pair share in addition can help open some introverts up. Ultimately, I think this is a question of design of the work or assignment–not the type of work itself. I hardly think 15 to 25% of work being in groups is a tough requirement for introverts. If it is, they are going to have a very, very hard time in life.

3) Group work may allow an introvert to open up. Maybe more group work would produce more extroversion in introverts (ie movement along the spectrum–not hopping from one group to the other). Introverts need desperately to learn how to work in groups and teams, as teams are a component of business, community, and social life.

To be fair, she has done more research on this topic than I (“Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”) , but hopefully her analysis at least acknowledges #2 above.

——

I believe these two theories may suggest more flexibility in the identifications of introvert vs. extrovert (or even the trait she’s not dealing with–shy vs. outgoing).:

Bandura’s Social Learning Theory
Bandura believed that personality is learnt through our experiences, observing those around us and imitating their behaviour.

Lewin’s Interactionist Approach
Lewin’s theory states that behaviour is a combination of both inherent (built-in) personality traits and environmental factors. The following equation describes the theory:
B = F (P.E)

Behaviour is the Function of Personality and Environment
The theory also states that Personality traits can be used to predict behaviour in some situations, but this is not exclusive.

And perhaps even the work of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi would amplify some of the above suggestions.

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