I don't have good memories of school. Some, I suppose, here and there. I don't necessarily have bad memories, but I can't say that school was something I liked. I worked hard because that was what you were suppose to do, but most of my memories are angst-filled days being terrified I'd be called on, or wouldn't be smart enough, or would say something wrong. And even if I knew an answer the minute I was called on the answer would slip through my fingers just beyond my grasp. I find this true even today when I'm in certain stressful situations. In college I'd tell professors that I'd rather accept a B than be forced to participate in whole group discussions- even in seminar-based classes.
A colleague just shared an article with me about Susan Cain's book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking. The brief summary of the book hit home, and while it brought back the flood of fourth grade memories, it also explained where my angst came from. Introverts often stop learning when they feel threatened by a classroom environment built around extroverts.
The article also points out the difference between introverts and shy children. Shy children are likely to watch kids play, wanting to engage but being scared to do so, while introverts are perfectly happy to play by themselves.
With half of our population being classified as introverts it is hard to think that we've designed classrooms specifically for extroverts, but we really have. Things are changing- teaching methods that allow for students to reflect, turn and talk to one another, and to process information in small groups or in different ways help meet the needs of all students. But we still have a ways to go.
How often are we forcing square pegs into round holes and calling it an education?