Quiet Learners

I just read a terrific article on characteristics of introverted learners that I felt I had to share with you. If you want to read the full article, please do–it’s terrific! One reason I love this article is that after reading it, I think I might be the mother of two introverted learners. It’s comforting to know that there’s a recognition that these students are out there, even though they may be very quiet in their learning process. I’ll try to provide some highlights here.

Introversion and shyness aren’t the same thing. Shyness is about being fearful of embarrassment or humiliation. Shy people can be either introverted or extroverted. Introverts need to re-energize themselves in a quiet place and by themselves. Extroverts need to be around others to re-energize. The key is to know which one a student is. If they’re shy, we want to minimize their pain and discomfort by not singling them out or putting them on the spot. If they’re introverted, we want to be respectful of the slower nature through which they process information.

Introverts need time. The brain chemistry in introverts is markedly different. “Processing pathways in introverts are longer and more complex than pathways found in extroverts.” Yet in the classroom, we tend to focus on filling up days with work that keeps high-energy extroverts busy. This causes introverts to easily become overwhelmed and possibly shut down.

Introverts need space. Since introverts re-energize through solitude, it’s important to provide a quiet space or two in your room for them to retreat to when they can. They may also benefit from being seated on the outside of the room rather than in the middle of all the action. One other way teachers can help introverted students is by providing them with a set of headphones to use when the room noise is distracting.

So now that you’ve gotten a taste of quiet learners, let me ask you this. Do you know any quiet learners? Were you a quiet learner? If you’re a teacher or anyone who works with kids, how can you use this to acknowledge and respect the quiet learners of the world?

God bless,

Cindy McKinney
Director of Academic Excellence
The Lutheran Schools Partnership