In my leadership studies class, we were told that introverts are people who, after a stressful day, need to be alone to recuperate. Here’s a little personality quiz: Do you prefer to chill out by yourself or with friends? If you chose yourself, you’re most likely an introvert, while extroverts are more likely to pick their friends.
Neither of these things is bad; it’s just who you are. But some teachers seem to penalize students for being introverted and not asserting themselves in the classroom, and I don’t think it’s fair to force introverts to speak in class.
That being said, some introverts are misclassified as extroverts because they speak out in class and, for all intents and purposes, look like extroverts. Introversive people are not necessarily shy people. Shy people are afraid to talk to other people or in large groups. Introverts simply like being quiet and thinking about things.
Sometimes, introverts can be shy. That’s natural, too. But many people tend to lump shy and introversive people into the same category. That’s not all we are. Some introverts can be just as outgoing as extroverts. It just takes an incredible amount of work.
That is why introversive students shouldn’t be made to speak out in class for a part of their grade. In many classes, participation is often a deciding factor between borderline grades, which can have a huge effect on your GPA. This isn’t fair for those students who struggle or must exert a lot of energy to talk even a little bit in class.
Those who are able to talk may get that A with little to no effort. An A should signify that the student stood out from the rest and that they went to great lengths to learn and achieve. An introversive student who gets an A in participation is much more impressive than the extroversive student who gets the same grade. The extrovert didn’t have to summon as much willpower to actually talk, whereas it might be more difficult for the introvert.
Introverts aren’t just quiet people, either. We offer a lot of different strengths that extroverts might not have. My leadership studies class taught that introverts usually have intellection strength, which is when a person sits back, listens to ideas and thinks deeply about them. They may look like they’re off in a daydream, but they could very well be thinking of ways to improve certain plans. Then they tell their ideas to the group, even if they have to shoot down an idea that is completely unfeasible. They think about all the possibilities, which is a great and unique gift to have — the gift of foresight.
I’m not saying there aren’t extroverts who have this skill, but extroverts tend to speak their minds first. This is not a bad thing. They get ideas going and feed the think tank. But often, extroverts speak their mind without thinking it through first, whereas an introvert might deliberate for a moment or two.
Everyone is unique and we all have our own skills that can contribute to society, which is why making participation a key part of class is morally wrong. John Stuart Mill argues in his book “On Liberty” that we shouldn’t make people conform to what we think they should be. Everyone is unique in their own right and deserves to be treated as such.
Making introversive students talk in class infringes on their right to be quiet if they want to be. And I’m not talking about students who are just lazy and don’t want to talk in class.
If teachers still want students to be more involved in class work, they can create message boards. Introverts can write out whatever they want to say without the pressure to speak loud and fast over the extroverts. Here, they can take all the time they want to form a meaningful response. This tool should be used as an alternative means of participation.
Extroverts should also be more considerate of introverts. Think about how much harder it is for us to speak out in class before you blurt out the answer. Most likely, the introvert next to you knows the answer but may not be willing to immediately share it. Give us a chance to voice our opinions.
Jeana Lawrence is a sophomore in English and journalism and mass communications. Please send comments to [email protected]