Thanks to Liz Burns who led me to the article “Introverted Kids Need to Learn to Speak Up at School.” written by an extroverted middle school teacher. I’m an introverted middle school teacher, shy on top of it*, and so have a very different take on this. First of all, not every part of the world or culture necessarily views outspokenness as necessary as we often do in the United States. I’ve had teachers complain about children who do not look them in the eye when those children come from cultures where doing so is considered impolite. Secondly, as someone who feels her best way of communicating is by writing, I think it is important to acknowledge and respect all ways of sharing our views and knowledge. Of course, we teachers do need to support all our students, provide safe ways for them to speak up, to help those who are reticent to feel confident to make the occasional comment, but to make that a requirement, to grade it, to privilege that as something necessary for success, I don’t agree.
* My admission of being shy may be a surprise to those who know me in the children’s lit world, but out of my element, in a situation where I don’t know anyone, I am very different.