Where Do Introverts Fit Into Group Work?

By David Cutler posted 12-14-2016 01:35 PM


Dear Colleagues, 

I am eager to hear any thoughts on my most recent article for Edutopia, which you can access by clicking HERE. I've included the first few paragraphs below...

In Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, the best-selling author raises a topic I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. In the chapter “When Collaboration Kills Creativity: The Rise of the New Groupthink and the Power of Working Alone,” Cain quotes Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak, who endorsed working alone in his memoir:

Most inventors and engineers I’ve met are like me—they’re shy and they live in their heads. They’re almost like artists. In fact, the very best of them are artists. And artists work best alone—best outside of corporate environments, best where they can control an invention’s design without a lot of people designing it for marketing or some other committee. 

What can Wozniak’s views tell us about teaching and about pushing introverts, who typically prefer to work alone, to collaborate? John Aime, assistant head of school at Santa Catalina School in Monterey, California, may have put it best. “It’s not whether teachers should have kids work alone or in groups,” he told me. “The point is that both methods of coming to some understanding about an unknown topic are valuable. One approach should not be emphasized to the exclusion of the other.” Still, I struggle to find the balance in my classroom.