Enjoying Solitude Is OK — for Kids and Adults

I am an introvert. Yet until I read Mrs. Day’s Class Notes and her review of the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain, I had not thought much about it. I’ve always known, however, that I prefer quieter times and places.

Image from Susan Cain’s website.

Learning and working in social worlds with extroverted people is not a problem for most introverts or for me, and as I think about it, many of the quiet people whom I know tend to think longer about a topic, reach for extra resources, or even pose thoughtful questions in a conversation rather than offer quick answers. I’m looking forward to reading Cain’s book.

Many of the children who drop by my technology classroom in the early mornings or late afternoons may be introverts (though seldom shy or awkward). Often these kids choose to pass the time with a smaller crowd of people, and the computer lab serves just that purpose, allowing one or two people to work together quietly. Sometimes I look around and observe children sitting at a computer but reading a book.

Note to self: Some kids are OK when they choose time alone instead of socializing constantly.

As for me, in extremely social situations — big events or parties where others are happily interacting all around the room — moving around and chatting takes effort. I don’t mind doing it, but it requires concentration. In my work I comfortably interact with groups of students and colleagues, helping them learn how to use 21st Century learning tools to increase learning, but I also appreciate the quiet peacefulness of my office in early mornings or late afternoons and quiet discussions with colleagues. On days off I’m grateful to read books, work at my sewing machine, or putter in my garden.     

Barbara Day’s book review makes me wonder whether we educators need to ensure that our introverted children have at least some time to learn and read and think on their own. Learning to collaborate and work together is important, as Susan Cain points out in her TED talk (ask recommended by Mrs. Day), but so is quiet time.

Check out this wonderful TED lecture by Susan Cain — parents and teachers will gain perspective from the experiences and ideas shared by the author in her talk.

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