Are Introverts at a Disadvantage?

Many Believe They Are


Photograph by G Bruce

Who has the advantage in the classroom: introverts or extoverts?

Produced by Giuliana Bruce

Do students who consider themselves extroverts have an advantage here? If you’re an introvert, do your grades suffer? Does our school subscribe to the “extrovert ideal”? In this thought-provoking report, journalist student and Spartacus staff writer Giulianna Bruce asks teachers and students who they think has the upper hand in the classroom.

In a recent survey sent to upper school students asking them to identify as “introvert” “extrovert” or “ambivert”, nearly 80% of those participating responded that they consider themselves a solid introvert or a mix of both. Only 20% identify as being extroverted. Clearly many students, therefore, have more quiet tendencies. While this isn’t surprising, it does lead us to question why teachers force group collaboration and use methods like  “Socratic seminars” which favor those who speak loudest. It also leads to the question: Is our learning environment as balanced as the personalities of our school body?

Author Susan Cain describes what she calls the “extrovert ideal” in her book Quiet. The ideal “self”  is one who is gregarious and comfortable in the spotlight and is something, she argues, that has become an American ideal. This belief has been embraced in classrooms across the country and may put some students at a disadvantage.

Sophomore Mia Batista feels that “after knowing that only 20% of our students feel they are extroverts, I believe that the learning environment at MCDS is not representing our demographic.” She feels that the participation points in some of her classes, which count on one’s being outspoken in class, put those who are quieter at a disadvantage. Freshman and “A” student Sophia Tilis considers herself “more of an introvert” and feels anxiety about speaking sometimes hurts her. “If I’m pressured to get called on, I’ll freeze and maybe panic and I won’t be able to answer the question.” The other side of this, however, may be that high school is a time for students to reflect on the kind of learning environment that suits them best. In order to know that, one needs to experience all kinds of situations. But perhaps there is a better balance.

Produced for Spartan TV at Miami Country Day School, Miami Florida.