07 January 2013

quietly inspired

Once an avid reader, I let that part of me fade to the wayside in the past several years. Sure, I'm always, always, always reading, but I turned to long pieces in magazines to a smattering of blogs to quick young adult reads for some time now. And, oh-my-word...how many books have I read aloud to this child of mine? I reached the point that I couldn't do both or couldn't find the time or make the time or...lots of excuses.

In the last six months, the lust for longer works has returned, and I even started a local book club with an eclectic mix of smart woman at the urging of a friend and now find myself refreshed and excited once again. It's back. It's nice.


A recent find that I would like to recommend is Susan Cain's, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking.  Likely, you've heard of it, maybe read it. It's been on my list but not until it was also on all the end-of-year "Best of" lists did I finally download it.

This is perhaps the most exciting thing I've read in a long time. It is a piece that validates so much of what I believe, what my husband believes, and what my child, above all, is. This book is so smart and so important, I encourage everyone to read it.  I'm frankly sick of living in a society that places so much value on loud and fast-talking over thoughtful responses, that encourages teams over individual effort and that views introversion as a weakness.

Did you know that study after study proves that students do not learn more when working in a cooperative group? Yet, we continue. And...the incidence of using this methodology is more common among our youngest teachers, meaning it will not fade soon. The same holds true of committees and teams in the work force. A team is not greater than an individual.

Introverts? They despise, DESPISE these teams. We call them the anti-social weirdos "unable to work cooperatively with others."
Not so, proves Cain.

Cain traces the growth of these values in our culture, skillfully weaves the research of eminent social scientists, and puts forth a call of action for change.

We need to start celebrating the beauty and the value of the introvert again...and frankly, the extroverts just need to shut up, already...at least until they count to ten (or fifty) and formulate a meaningful thought. (That last part is not exactly the message of the book, just my personal feelings; Susan Cain offers a much, much more intelligent discourse. I couldn't help it.)


If you find yourself with twenty minutes to spare, Susan Cain gives a great TED talk. If you have a bit more time, I suggest you find a copy of the book at your local library. 





If you have read it, I'd love to hear what you think about it!


13 comments:

  1. I read it and found it very validating for myself. Until I read it, I hadn't realized how much I chastised myself for my shyness, for looking for reasons to avoid large social settings, for feeling awkward at small talk. Even as I thought I had recognized myself, good and bad, this book made me realize I attached too much judgment to those qualities. And then it REALLY validated what I see in my eldest, the one with lots of anxiety. And what surprised me was how much I learned about my second daughter, the extrovert. Her behavior sometimes baffled me in the past, but it turns out I just don't understand extroversion at all :)

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    1. This part about the judgement was meaningful to me. Though I am mostly an introvert, I'm not a shy one, though. I really appreciated the difference between being shy and being an introvert. My daughter also has lots of anxiety; the book helps me to understand her...to lift her!

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  2. I haven't read this, but I'll be putting it on my list. Nothing stressed me out more in school, than having to work with a team. To this day, I loathe working in teams. I'd much rather work by myself.

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    1. It's not entirely about team work, but Cain does effectively dispel the widely held belief that group work, committees, and teams are the way to go.
      I hope you enjoy it!
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  3. Your book club and my book club read wildly different selections. We read mostly fiction--Sarah's Key, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Unbroken (so, so interesting), The Joy Luck Club, The Devil in the White City (which I hated). Quiet... is a book that I wouldn't typically choose to read. I know I defninitely fit into the introvert category, though. I always have been an introvert and feel uncomfortable in large social gatherings which is why I opt out of most social functions like the school Christmas party. In my own schooling I HATED speeches and acting and disliked group work because I always got stuck with the lazy kids. As a teacher, I do mostly individual work, but have been trying to incorporate more group activities. I just finished my Masters in December. Cooperative learning was a HUGE part of what they taught us. In fact, the cooperative learning class I took (Kagen Publishing) was one of the best and most interesting classes I took. It introduced me to a totally new way of thinking about my lessons. If this is what other education students are learning, cooperative learning isn't going anywhere. Oddly, I've never heard of the research that contradicts CL. I guess I never thought to look at the opposite view point. Maybe I'll have to look into it.

    Leslie

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    1. Les,
      We haven't read this one together yet, but I did recommend it to them!
      I think you should read it; it will empower you!
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  4. My son would not be too sad to see the group projects go! While he doesn't mind working with others the other students usually take advantage of his ability to do what it takes to get a project done. He is also very smart and ends up doing most of the work. My husband loved this book because he is an introvert. What she writes makes so much sense. I believe it should be required reading for every educator.

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    1. Me too! Required!!! Of everyone!
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  5. My husband is one of those introverts whereas I am not. We make a good pair - if we go to parties or out with another couple he can sit back and I do enough talking for the both of us. I know he appreciates this. For my part, I am grateful to be able to sit in quiet when we are at home. We can spend long stretches of time together without feeling the need to speak. After spending all day with over a thousand teenagers (yes, I am a teacher) I really appreciate the downtime he gives me. And BTW, I do plan on reading this book.

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    1. Diane,
      I think you will gain some insight from the book, either about your husband or those thousands of teenagers. It was most powerful for me as it relates to my daughter and all those quiet kids. I enjoyed reading about the reasons American society values the extrovert over the introvert; it hasn't always been this way. Meno male.
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  6. ok, just reserved this at the library--number five hundred and something in line!!! they have quite a few copies though, i shouldn't have to wait too long. i am terribly shy and introverted as well. definitely something that i feel most people do not get. hear, hear on less group work. UGH! ALWAYS hated that.

    On another note, loved following your paris travels on instagram, and living vicariously through you! glad you guys had a good time.

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  7. This book has been on my radar for a while - thanks for the encouragement to read it. As a member of the "quiet" community and having 2 daughters in that community seems like this book would invite understanding and acceptance. On a side note, I've often wondered if most bloggers are introverts. Blogging allows for reflective communication without the interruptions of others - a dream!

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    1. I think you will find it validating as well, Katy. The book does reveal that introverts often perfer written communication and that using the web as a social medium works well for them (us!)
      I hope you get a chance to read it bc at some point the concept of the highly sensitive individual is addressed as well.
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