Teachers, Quit Telling Introverts They Should Participate More

IntrovertDear.com introverted students

I listened closely as my mom reported back to me what my teachers said at the parent-teacher conference she had just attended. The report was always the same—I was an excellent student, I worked hard, and I didn’t have any behavioral issues. My teachers only had one complaint: I should participate more, because, as they put it, they “wanted other students to benefit from hearing my voice.”

At 8 years old, this led me to start subconsciously internalizing a dangerous message: I was too quiet. However, I did not actively try to change my quiet nature. At that point, I didn’t see the point in trying to speak up more. I was convinced that I didn’t have anything to say that was original enough or important enough that everyone needed to hear. And frankly, the thought of speaking in front of 30 other people terrified me.

In middle school, it got worse. We had to do parent-teacher-student conferences which I, the student, had to lead. First, I had to go to all my teachers and talk to them one-on-one about how I was doing and what my strengths and weaknesses were. That was torture enough, but then I had to meet with my parents and advisor and report back, presenting the information my teachers shared with me. Then we had to discuss how I could improve. The whole ordeal was a total nightmare.

Every teacher I talked to had slight variations on my strengths but always said the same thing for my greatest weakness—I needed to participate more. “Participate” quickly became my least favorite word. At one of these conferences, my advisor set a goal for me—to raise my hand at least once per class. We had about six classes a day which meant I would have to raise my hand six times a day. I outwardly agreed to give it a try, but it seemed impossible. It took a lot for me to raise my hand. I had to be sure I was unequivocally correct.

I felt alone. No one else seemed to have this problem. It appeared easy for my friends to speak up in class. Even students who were shyer than me did not seem to have as much trouble as I did.

In high school and college, the pressure to participate intensified. Now my GPA depended on it, because in many classes, there was a participation grade. This grade was the bane of my existence. Even though I did well on tests and papers, my final grade was lower because of my dismal participation scores. In my senior year of high school, my English teacher did these Socratic Seminars in which there was a circle of people on the inside and a circle of people on the outside. If you were on the inside, you had to say something at least three times during the discussion, and someone on the outside kept track of when you talked and what you said. For a shy introvert, this was a living hell. As much as I tried, I could not be the outgoing, talkative person all my teachers wanted me to be.

Stop Trying to Change Introverted Students

During college, I learned to embrace my introversion and look at it not as a character flaw but rather as a strength. Even my quietness was something that made me unique. Instead of feeling guilty for not speaking as much, I began to appreciate the truly thought-out responses I could give. I also began to understand the distinction between introversion and extroversion and the power and stigmatism that come with being an introvert. It took me over 20 years to embrace my introversion, and I didn’t get any help from any of my teachers growing up. I had some truly wonderful teachers but that does not negate the pressure they put on me to be someone else. It should not have taken so long for me to accept the most fundamental attribute of myself.

To every single teacher out there, from those who teach kindergarteners to college students, there is one thing I beg of you: do not forget, overlook, or attempt to change your introverted students. I know you have one of the hardest, most under-appreciated jobs and I do not know how you do what you do. I also know that there are not enough hours in a day to get everything done. However, look at the quiet kids in your class and give them the same amount of attention that you give to others. Teach them to embrace who they are, and above all else, do not try to change them. “Participation” means more than just speaking. It’s paying attention when you speak, it’s completing homework and in-class assignments, it’s being on time and prepared for class. It’s also working with and helping the other students in the class.

We need to change the misconception that those who are the most outspoken are the most intelligent and engaged. There are many ways to be engaged. The child who does not speak in a large group may feel more comfortable in a small group. Break the class into small groups and give quiet students the chance to speak in a lower-risk situation. Or give them the option to write their thoughts instead of speaking them. There are many ways to cater to quiet, introverted students without imposing the extroverted norm upon them.

Most important, appreciate your introverted students. Appreciate their strengths and verbalize this to them. Do not let them grow up thinking they need to change or that they would be better if they were more like their outgoing peers. Introverted children are the strong, independent leaders of our future. Celebrate them.

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Read this: Stop Forcing Introverts to Speak in Class. There Are Better Ways.  retina_favicon1


    • A says:

      I wish that many teachers could read this, it would help so much

    • Omnilord says:

      Except, (and I am guilty of not participating, too) by not participating more, you are setting yourself up for career failure in a world where participation is paramount. Participation is an analogue for societal conformity. Participating is the hallmark of the socialist/democratic socialist/communist societies the world is begging for, so those of us who don’t do our part to participatem we are the downfall of society, somehow. There is also the work-factor: how can you earn a living if you don’t participate in the work your employer does? Participation is a life-sustaining activity.

      And this is something I am struggling with in my current job search. As a software developer, there is the onus on teams, not individuals, to deliver products. They want participation in giant “open offices” where you can hear ever single conversation going on around you. It’s not quiet. It’s not private. It’s constant sensory over-stimulation in a very unquiet office environment. It’s a melting pot of expected participation. People who do not participate and collaborate get fired because there is no room for loners or heroes or mavericks. Conformity to the extrovert expectation is a must or you fail at life.

      And I hate it. I had the unique privilege of working full-time from home with my last job. For two-and-a-half years I worked with a well balanced team of people who were all working from home. We communicated thoroughly throughout the day via asynchronous communication (text, email, skype, etc.) and had some collaboration of effort, but only where it made sense. That “virtual office” was the most amazing thing ever. And in my current job search, I am having a horrible time finding another job like it. Because of so many things, but the whole “participation in teamwork” thing is mantra in software development.

      Therefore, because they will struggle with being an adult if they don’t participate, teachers strive to whip the introversion out of their students by pushing them “beyond their comfort zone” so they will grow. For me, it meant growing more reclusive. And being introverted has never helped me in my career, only led to me being unemployed for the last year when my previous employer went under.

    • Then maybe we need to fight harder to change social norms. Although forced participation in some makes us stronger, it can destroy others. People need to feel supported and understood. It’s one thing to push your own comfort zone and another to be forced into mental instability.

      As for your job issues, you’re projecting. Maybe the universe is attempting to help you grow. There is probably an intended path that you are needed to walk and you are not yet seeing. Yes, part of being an adult is sometimes sucking it up and doing things we don’t like to do, but it’s also knowing your boundaries and not being afraid to tell others.

      Maybe it’s time for a career change. Or maybe you are needed to help others in your field who feel the same as you. In life we have choices. Either you can complain about your problems or you can do something about them. Either you’ll keep feeling sorry for yourself, or you’ll find pride is making a change. Best of luck Omnilord.

    • mindbird says:

      This is more than introversion.. A child noticed for not talking is a child that can feel a continuous feed of the teacher’s attention by — not talking! And the child enjoys simultaneously the rebellion that so frustrates the teacher, who is seeking feedback from a student who may be in trouble or not understanding the material. That’s a real catbird seat — preening with the attention from being “good,” being the quiet child and causing no trouble AND irritating the teacher to boot.

      An introvert would have cringed from that attention. An introvert would have found some question to ask, or something, to slide back into anonymity.

    • You didn’t read the entire article. You missed a crucial point.
      “Participation” does not equal “talking a lot”.

      “Participation” means more than just speaking. It’s paying attention when you speak, it’s completing homework and in-class assignments, it’s being on time and prepared for class. It’s also working with and helping the other students in the class.

      We’re sorry for you that you don’t understand this and that you blame introversion for leading to your unemployment. Given that 50% (yes, that’s correct of All people are introverted, obviously introversion does not immediately lead to unemployment.

      There are many introverts who work within their comfort zones, stretch and grow their comfort zones, participate and collaborate in their jobs… and don’t spend the entire day talking.

      It’s not possible to “whip the introversion out of” a student (or an adult). Introversion is in the brain-wiring. This has nothing to do with “growth”. It’s as abusive as forcing left-handed children to only use their right hand.

    • My comment above was in reference Omnilord’s comment.

    • @Mindbird – I see nothing in Shona’s article about “preening” with attention. Only confusion and remembered pain.

      Just because you would have “found some question to ask, or something, to slide back into anonymity.” doesn’t mean everyone would.

      Please note the part where Shona writes: “It took a lot for me to raise my hand. I had to be sure I was unequivocally correct.”. Read that again.

      For some of us, this is a deep-seated requirement. I’m that sort of Introvert.

      There are (at least) 8 very different Types of Introvert. Do not assume we all think alike.

    • Thank you Shona for the fine article. I would like to add that introverts often make very good listeners, and that is a rare quality in a world where everybody likes to talk. We also tend to think more before we open our mouths, and that’s fine too, especially since so many people are flooding us with nonsense, and they not even care to check the accuracy of what they say. I started off in life as a shy introvert but I did learn a few skills as I got older that do not come natural to us introverts. Those skills do help me with my current job. I still consider myself a shy introvert and I hate to speak in front of crowds but by now I do accept that fact. I do agree, there are many ways to participate and contribute. In your case Shona, you are a good writer. Thank you.

    • Melanie says:

      Wow, that’s nasty-minded. I can guarantee you the introverted child was not ‘preening, from the attention; more like dying.

    • Santosh says:

      I loved class discussions. Class is a safe place and every view point should be heard. Introversion is not shyness.

    • Heather says:

      Thank you so much for this article. I totally agree. I too was told over and over I “did not participate enough”. One teacher even told me at 5 years old that I was “just destined to be a passenger in life)”. I didn’t care really. I still got top marks without participating. Luckily even from a young age, I learned that other’s approval is not the be all and end all; especially when their “approval” involves changing your entire personality. No thanks.

      My dad (another introvert) says that without listeners, the talkers would have no-one to listen to them.

      Thank you for a wonderful article. I am so tired of those who try to make others conform and change and make those who are different feel wrong.

    • Brenda says:

      I wish my teachers could’ve seen this. I wish my MOM could’ve seen this. She forbade me from writing during breaks to force me to talk to people. I was incredibly shy and I hated it. I wasn’t an excellent student but I did my best, always listened and took notes diligently; but no one could make me speak up comfortably.

    • kiwimusume says:

      ““Participation” means more than just speaking. It’s paying attention when you speak, it’s completing homework and in-class assignments, it’s being on time and prepared for class. It’s also working with and helping the other students in the class.”

      I’m suddenly very grateful to the schools I went to (and perhaps my whole country if this is a New Zealand-wide thing), because this is EXACTLY what they did. It was even called an “attitude” grade, not a “participation” one. Grading done right!

    • Ric Douglass says:

      Viki Brown you clearly did not understand what OmniLord was saying. He was talking specifically about being a programmer. There is a methodology called the Scrum method where team members meet every morning to talk their way thru a problem. That statement clearly screams extroversion. Introverts don’t want to say a word until they have a chance to think through a problem and derive a solution. Extroverts talk their way to a solution. Scrum is one of the agile methods that have come to prominence in the last five years, maybe a little longer. It clearly is of benefit to extroverts who typically are the ones managing the groups. Almost all programming groups are moving to some version of the Agile methodology and OmniLord was correct in saying that if you are a programmer this will affect your employment. This is very different from say ten years ago when as a programmer you were locked away in your cubical which was a benefit to Introverts who like to hear themselves think vs Extroverts who tend to avoid silences. You jumped in on OmniLord without seeming to understand the shift that is happening right now in the programming world and yes it will affect his employment.
      OmniLord you probably know this already but there is one agile methodology that can work for introverts. It’s called pairing.

      OmniLord, I am with you brother. I dread those daily scrum meetings. I hate how extroverts change scenarios everyday while they are talking their way to a solution and you don’t want to code anything until there is actually a final solution because it feels like a waste of time.
      Please understand that I am not saying I hate extraverts. I just understand that the process that works best for them cuts my efficiency by 30%. I do get though that the advantage for the customer is that they get immediate gratification.

    • Kudos to the author to have built her confidence on knowing herself truly and building on strengths and also to actually try to participate in talking when asked to do so rather than just rebelling.
      However, i disagree with the request to teachers to stop encouraging participation in talking.

      In my opinion, schools cater to build basic essentials in personality in all students rather than specific qualities in each student. For instance, if an 8 year old student is excited in singing class but can’t do math, schools should not be deciding a singing career for this student at this age, applaud for his singing alone and allow the student to ignore any further study in math.

      In the case under discussion, decision to participation in talking is governed by two aspects, ability and will.
      I would say, if the student is having no issues with ability, well then yes, maybe shouldn’t be forced to talk against will.
      But I believe that is not the case that an 8 year old would have. In that case, isn’t it the teachers responsibility rather to bring up the student’s ability?

      And in this case then, I believe that the teachers did an excellent job in encouraging and hope that they continue to do so.

    • This is 30 years too late for me.

    • Mare says:

      “It’s as abusive as forcing left-handed children to only use their right hand.”
      That was exactly what I was thinking when reading the article. Noone should be forced to say something just for the sake of saying something. And people should never tease or push for the response in front of a group. When pushed, I clam up and will not say a word. Perhaps later, in a different situation or privately, I can calmly give the answer.

    • Catherine says:

      That is ridiculous, getting the student to lead the parent teacher meetings! Honestly!

      Yes, teachers seem to think all kids should be identical but we are all individuals…

    • Marie says:

      You just wrote my whole life at school. I was always forced to participate in class and the worst thing is when the teacher embarrass you in front of the class. Anyway, I love being an introvert and, as a future teacher, I will respect my future introverted students 🙂
      Greetings from Argentina!

      • V. M. says:

        wish that 50 years ago all my teachers were like you

      • Catherine says:

        That makes me so angry to read of teachers embarrassing students. I worked in education for 10 years and I didn’t like the teachers who did that. I would never embarrass a student in front of the class!! Its not professional.

    • Sarah says:

      This is the story of my life! And now I do meditation, yoga, and hypo therapy just to get over my low self esteem and the need to constantly over-achieve in every single aspect of my life.
      This is all because of these teachers telling me my whole life that I wasn’t good enough if I didn’t raise my hand and went all the way.
      It’s hard, thinking that you’re never good enough if you don’t speak up and that people will only like you if you’re outspoken and the ‘life of the party’. Exhaustion-level for an introvert= 110%

      • Catherine says:

        Totally agree. My mum had to tell my teacher to give me a few minutes to think and reflect before answering. He used to ignore me or move quickly on to the next student with their hand up, but after my mum talked to him, he actually listened to me.

    • Crozet Duplantier says:

      While I do not disagree that a lot of extrovert behavior is pushed on introverts, I still think it is important for introverts to attempt to operate successfully in the extrovert world. When I learned German, I had to force myself to work to speak in complete sentences and engage in conversation to better master the language. It was difficult and unnatural at first, but it became easier with practice. If I speak English to a German, he or she may not understand me. I cannot expect everyone to understand English. The same is true with being an introvert. It like being from Finland. Very few people understand you, you have to learn their language(s)

    • Cynthia Marshall says:

      Always a huge problem for me. I actually thought I wasn’t as smart as everyone else because my teachers made me feel WRONG for being quiet. My guidance counselor in HS actually took me outside of my psychology class, which she taught, and said she couldn’t believe how well I did on my SAT’s ! Not in a happy, excited for me manner, but in an incredulous manner. Talk about making me feel complicated. I actually felt bad about my SAT scores for a while…Later in life my now ex-husband used to make me feel horrible for not talking every minute in the car on long trips. Of course, the way my teachers had made me feel years before made me think maybe there was something wrong with me that I couldn’t chatter on and on and entertain him for 4-6 hours…

    • This usually happens to me. I get lower grades because

    • This usually happens to me and it’s quite depressing.

    • Anita Rapp says:

      I was the worst combination of introvert plus lazy student. I would study the texts in the order that interested me; not necessarily with the rest of the class. Basically educated myself. Speaking aloud, in class, was not possible. Tortuous.

    • Casey says:

      I am a teacher of a high school chemistry class. I’ve typically 25 to 30 students, broken up into six small groups. I seldom lecture for long periods of time and I tend to teach socratically, often delegating class discussions into the small groups.

      In a typical class, 4-6 students are responsible for 99% of the whole-class participation. Those same students tend to be discussion leaders in the small groups, where sometimes, others will talk too. Getting them to participate is hard, and I am afraid of destroying their confidence if I call on them in front of everybody. Even when I think of an easy question for one of them to answer and call on them, they get scared and muffle their voice or just mumble something unintelligible.

      So I have resorted to ignoring them and just leading a discussion with six or seven students, because I am afraid of hurting somebody. Normalizing struggle, and exposing them to the occasional failure, would build strength and resilience, but as this article clearly indicates, the long-term consequences on a person’s psyche could be enormous if such an approach backfires. Practicing the virtues of eye contact and open communication and even self-advocacy… have proven to be hazardous. Those 15 and 16-year-olds that don’t participate much are also less likely to come in to tutorials and ask for help. Not because they dislike me or dislike chemistry, but simply because they don’t know how to talk to adults. Or to anybody, as I consistently confirm when seeking out their parents and other teachers and inquiring.

      The writer of this sincere piece doesn’t intend to generalize all introverts as being unable to vocally communicate well. Nor does she intend to pass shyness and reservedness off as personality traits to be honored and cherished like all others. The truth is closer to this, and it ought to be said without fear of being judged: shyness and reservedness are long-term byproducts of fear, and fear comes from prior events that were perhaps traumatic and from which there has not been full recovery. Introversion often has nothing to do with this. I am introverted. I speak with confidence in front of people, sometimes many people, all the time. I am introspective, reflective, and often hyper-analytical about the way I come across when I have just interacted with people. I pay particular attention to the impact I have had, rather than not talking at all and dwelling, with fear, on the consequences of not being perfect in front of people. If introverts forecast dire consequences to speaking up, they often get over it and stick their necks out in situations that could really matter. I am quiet in larger social situations and I avoid idle chatter. I enjoy being by myself. A lot. But otherwise, I tend to get what I want in life through my ability to communicate. And communication is more than just active listening, and journaling, and being quietly creative.

      It helps to actually say something.

      My number one frustration as a teacher in this profession is feeling discouraged from challenging students to cultivate this skill at all, for fear of damaging them somehow. And every year, with the increasing pervasiveness of personal devices, the distraction from having to directly interact at all becomes ever the more heartbreaking to see.

    • Mari Featherman Wahlgren says:

      This makes me so angry bc as a parent of an introvert this is exactly what we heard from every teacher for 13 years. I even went in to argue with a teacher abt a failing participation grade. So glad to see teachers being called out for this

    • Angus_Podgorny says:

      I’m not totally sure how I feel about what you’ve written, and I’m not totally sure how you’ll feel about my response. It may be that we’re in more agreement than we realize. If not, I’m sincerely open to your input. As a teacher, I work hard to support all my students in being who they are, and I have certainly never told anyone that they need to participate more. (With my students, I’m more likely to need to find a tactful way to tell them to participate less so other people can get a word in edgewise.) But if a student is afraid of math or afraid of reading, it’s my job to try to help them overcome that fear, rather than saying “well, that’s just who they are.” Similarly, if a student is afraid to speak in class, I feel it’s my job to help them overcome that, rather than saying “well, that’s just who they are.” It’s a life skill that for many people ends up being at least as important as math or reading. But simply telling a student to “participate more” is not going to help them with their fear any more than saying “do more math” is going to help them with their fear of math. It’s a matter of knowing them and caring about them enough to understand the nature of their fear and to help them with strategies and opportunities little by little in a supportive environment, all the while letting them know you value them as a person no matter which things are hard for them and which things are easy for them. But I chafe a little when you plead with teachers not to try to change introverted students. If I have a student whose self-image is as someone who’ll never be good at math, and I can find positive ways to help them be both good and confident at math, then I’ve changed them, and that’s a good thing. If I can do the same thing for a student whose self-image is as someone who’ll never be good at talking in class, isn’t that also a good thing?

    • V. M. says:


    • MT says:

      Best response I ever heard from a student, “I don’t have anything to say or add on the matter and when I do I’ll let you know.” Many times participation for teachers merely consists of going around the room and having each student parrot the same response and for introverts who benefit from reflection and meaningful discussion it’s an exercise in futility. Adapting teaching styles so thinkers of various types can participate in ways that engage beyond immediate responses would be beneficial for many.

    • Topic_goes_here says:

      First, I listen, then I read, and only when I have a good question, I will ask the question.

      Once, I was told to participate more (7th grade, after a quarterly grade mark-down for not participating). I “filled the airtime” with an unimaginative comment on a point, and lo, my grade improved, revealing to me the b.s. nature of the participation requirement. I hate it. I almost hate myself for making inane comments for the grade.

    • Kristina Lynn Ray says:

      I was sent to the school counselor in middle school because I refused to interrupt my classmates during small group discussions about books that each group had been assigned. I thought it was weird but when I told my mom she said they thought I might be being abused at home. It’s ridiculous that being an introvert combined with good manners gets you labeled as an abuse victim. I wholeheartedly agree with this article.

    • Asjo says:

      I’m confused about the logic behind the message of your post. On the surface it seems fine: Some kids don’t speak up much, but rather use their focus on deeper analysis or playing closer attention to detail. Don’t let this become an overshadowing issue and let them nurture their strengths.

      However, at a closer inspection, it doesn’t make much sense. Just because people are introverted won’t mean that they don’t need to speak up. They need to get at least somewhat more comfortable with it at some point. Yes, a few of them might be able to take a career-path where it won’t be necessary at all, but most will be unable to avoid it. So, if some kids have a shortcoming (being bad at speaking up in front of others), why just call it “being introverted” and accept it? Why not encourage them to work on it and get the chance to get comfortable with it?

      I realize this might not fit with your own experience, but I have seen many kids who were not able to speak up simply because they lacked confidence. They were encouraged to do so, and suddenly found their voice. They were happy to learn that they could go against their previous instincts and still be comfortable. And class rooms normally work much better when you have several students joining the discussion rather than just having 1-2 students doing all the talking. Just accepting that many students will stay quiet is a detriment to the teacher and the entire teaching situation. I would agree that you should think about how much pressure you put on students to speak out and how you, instead, can encourage it in different ways, but I don’t see the logic of just throwing your hands up in the air and saying “everyone is different”.

      • Craig James Conrad says:

        Perhaps we need to teach extroverts to slow down in their rush to talk, pushing the introverts out of the discussion. I like to reflect on a matter and form my thoughts before blurting out. If I am understood to be the expert on the matter under discussion, no problem — either I need less time to reflect (as I already know my thoughts) or others naturally are looking to me for my input. In other situations, particularly in larger groups where extroverts are dominating, talking over everyone, by the time I have my well-formed thought ready, the topic has moved on, or the extroverts don’t allow another voice to join in.

        Just as you suggest introverts need to “get more comfortable with [speaking up]”, I suggest that extroverts also need to get more comfortable with giving the introverts time and opportunity to participate. They might benefit from a more thought-out response.

        • Jeff Grigg says:

          Yes. Exactly.

          If the teacher claims that they need the input from all the students, then I consider it the responsibility of the this teacher to *call upon* those who are quiet. NO, it’s not the responsibility of the quiet students to interrupt, shout over, and dominate the other students. It is the responsibility of the teacher to control the classroom.

          When the teacher blames the quiet students for not talking when the aggressive students are dominating all discussion by shouting down the other students, then to me it’s a clear indication that the teacher is failing in their duties.

    • I’m sorry, I’m an introvert, and one of the most valuable life skills I’ve ever learned is to be able to push through that and say what needs to be said. To conduct an interview. To record a podcast. To make that phone call I really don’t want to make (yes, EVERY phone call).

      All growth requires facing our fears and difficulties. Will it ever come naturally? No. Probably not. But making the excuse of “I’m just born that way so I should never change” is so incredibly limiting.

      Everyone has the right to choose their path. Their level of engagement. I’m a writer because I far prefer it to interacting with people all day long. But when I wasn’t able to pay my bills as a writer, I worked in client/customer service, and I did a great job at that, too. I took all the gifts I could have left buried inside, and I brought them to bear. I have people in my life who’ve pushed me to be what I’m capable of being, rather than just hiding all the time. I’m thankful for those people.

      There’s a concept in this article that caught my attention. The idea that to speak up we introverts need to know that we’re “unequivocally correct.” Yes, that’s certainly a temptation. But I’ve learned, over the course of my career, a valuable secret: everyone is faking it. Nobody is as good at things as they pretend to be all the time. Making a mistake or even embarrassing yourself won’t kill you if you have a self-deprecating sense of humor and a willingness to own it. In fact, it makes you more endearing to colleagues, family, and friends.

      I understand the author’s pain, but “embracing my introversion” is just a way of justifying my own choices of self-limitation and excusing my failure to fulfill my potential.

    • Catherine says:

      For some students yes, for others no. All kids are individuals…

    • manuvet66 says:

      I’m convinced, after many my earlier years, I was not able to find my true self until much later in my life. Actually, as in most cases, it’s a progression of confidence building. For me, it became to be a pivotal moment, sort of an epiphany moment-a moment of terror (waking to a nightmarish revelation, if you will,) this occurring during my military service. I began to reason and seek purpose with the perceived reality at the time and, how illogical it was for anyone to justify the lost of young lives. For what purpose? Seeking to find the answers-this process is what broke me out of my silence.
      The point being-what began as a challenge-to my own existence and dealing with life’s realities-I gradually became more outgoing and engaging and I would no longer hold back and exchange viewpoints. With deliberate and conscious effort-I became very comfortable and the satisfaction, that I too, can contribute and add to the discourse of many topics-we all encounter. Hopefully, for the better.

    • Rachel Fischer says:

      I completely disagree with this article. I am so introverted that I have had hardly any friends in my life. I have nearly lost a job for not being talkative enough. It is important that all kids are told that they need to participate equally in the classroom in order to learn to participate in society in a normal way. There are some classes that I have had of all introverted students where no one talks when prompted and the silence in a classroom seemed so ridiculous that I became the one answering all the questions every day. I hated that no one else answered the teacher’s questions. Participation is a normal part of all aspects of life that everyone needs to accept.

    • Bassam Ahmed says:

      Great addition to what is already a wonderful blog. I’m an introvert I’ve always been that way since I can remember. I just wanna tackle the subject of whether introversion is innate or acquired. Throughout reading various articles here I was led to believe that it’s something you’re born with and may be even related to brain chemistry. My own personal belief that if you look back in the life of an introvert you’ll always find a reason or an indecent that lead him to be that way. In my case I had no brothers or sisters and my parents worked a lot, so I had a lot of alone time, I was also fat and being teased a lot about it by my other peers which made me hate the idea off being around people much.
      I think had my circumstances been different, I might have grown up to be someone else entirely. And If that the case wouldn’t be a school and parents responsibility to seek the the seed of the child willingness to be alone all the time and try to fix it?

      • Strider says:

        I’m sorry, but you’re just wrong on this. There is almost never an inciting incident resulting in a person’s introversion, or extraversion. I am a very strong introvert and my growing-up circumstances were very different from yours (big family, popular in school, etc). And while we’re all shaped by our circumstances, we are fundamentally who we are, and can learn to make that an asset or not. I didn’t and don’t need to be fixed.

    • shelley howard says:

      As an introvert and an excellent student in the classroom, I was terrified of speaking out loud. What teachers don’t realize is that I and other introverts are probably paying attention more than most students in the class. Vocal participation is clearly not a valid indication of the student’s involvement in the lesson.

    • Jeff Grigg says:

      Even us introverts must learn to stand up and present our opinions in front of large groups of people, to be successful.

      This article does have a good point that it’s not fair, appropriate or healthy to force empty meaningless “participation” on the more thoughtful members of a group. Most of these groups have highly dysfunctional norms. The whole thing about children raising their hands and shouting “Pick Me! Pick Me!” is dysfunctional.

      Yes, I’m a strong introvert. Even to this day. And I have 55 years of life experience to back up my opinions. Still, to this day, I am often criticized for being “unable to speak” in meetings where others are “dominating the discussion” by filling the air time — often with largely meaningless words. But I am also a consistently award winning Toastmasters speaker. When I am allowed to speak, I typically do have valuable well thought out contributions to make.

      We do not just have “introvert problems.” We have problems of social interactions where domination of others and a lack of listening skills are rewarded. I have attended many meetings where a person “attempting to find solutions to their problems” dominates the meeting by lecturing and interrupting every other person who attempts to contribute. Often, it seems that they have a different agenda and goals than what one might assume. Some of their real goals may be dysfunctional, to them, and possibly their organization.

      Fortunately for me, I often have information that other people need. I interrupt only enough to let people know that I have information they need. And then I let them learn to resolve their internal conflicts between their feelings of need to dominate all conversation with constant talking, and their need to exercise a few listening skills, to be able to receive the information they need from me. It’s often an educational exercise. And as such, it can often by uncomfortable or even unpleasant for some of the participants — including myself and others. But, over time, improving our “health” and mutual respect in these interactions can be quite valuable.