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Principal’s Book Club – Quiet

The second book Principal Perry will be reading and discussing in this year’s Principal’s Book Club is Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Principal Perry was fortunate enough to correspond with author Susan Cain this week via the social network Parlio:


Dear Susan,

I read your book a few years ago and it affected me very much both personally and professionally. As a person who ‘tests’ as an extreme extrovert, I loved considering my own need for quiet & restorative niches, particularly as a Principal in a very ‘front-facing’ role. My role at our girls’ school includes considering how to ensure that girls & women- and particularly those who have introversion tendencies- have their voices heard. If you had to choose one or two key considerations for us as we educate thoughtful and bright women- extroverts and introverts- what would they be?

– Martha Perry

Dear Martha,

Thanks so much for this thoughtful question. There is of course so much to say, and I’m in the process of developing a course for educators on just this topic! But for now, I’ll suggest re-thinking two increasingly common practices in education:

—Grading on class participation. What about moving instead to thinking of classroom “engagement” rather than “participation”? There’s a real danger that we’re sliding into rewarding students simply for talking, without much regard to what they say, or how much empathy or leadership they show as they say it. Engagement is a much more holistic concept that includes good listening; being helpful; being thoughtfully energized about a subject; writing; one-on-one conversations; and so much more.

—Group projects. Students are increasingly required to do their work in groups, which is burdensome to so many students who prefer to work autonomously. I really worry that we’re squelching the spirit and the love of learning for so many introverted students. One young woman told me that she wants to go to grad school but has elected not to because, after a lifetime of education, “I just can’t take the group projects anymore.”

Ironically, too, it might be extroverts who suffer the most from too much emphasis on group work. Many young talents flame out early because they can’t handle the solitude required to really master their skill — whether in athletics, the sciences, music, or beyond. We need to teach our extroverted students to tolerate, if not enjoy, their solitude.

– Susan Cain

Please join us and Principal Perry on March 30, 2016 to further discuss this intriguing book!

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