In the Classroom: Thoughts on Ice (Buckets)

I have been very appreciative of the occasional attention given to introversion in the classroom for students and teachers of late. It helps me to clarify what I know already — I’m very introverted. I need quiet, recovery time, and all those other things that are so often typical of introversion. And as I consider how I can be a good teacher given this and how I can also support my students, introverted or not, I have been considering something else. This is the pleasure so many get when a teacher performs. Those that happily dance on the stage during an assembly, who willingly wear a costume all day for a cause, who do the Ice Bucket challenge and other things of that sort. So often I see a video of such a teacher along with comment after comment about what an amazing teacher he or she is and I think, “There is just no way I can do this.” The very idea gets me all scrunched up.

It isn’t that I’m uncomfortable with all forms of public presentations. I enjoy public speaking about teaching and learning or Lewis Carroll or Alice or Sierra Leone or Africa is My Home or something else. What I don’t like at all, what makes me terribly uncomfortable, is having it focused on me. That the looking is at me and not about my work or something else. And I wonder — what is this? Is it introversion or something else? Social anxiety? (While I am very lively in social gatherings with people I know, I’m extremely shy in those where I don’t know anyone.) Comfortable as I am knowing this about myself,  I still feel horribly guilty when saying no to a request to do one of these public acts. I feel that I must appear really selfish for being so unwilling. Or that I’ve disappointed my students who watch other teachers happily dance and be silly.

So this isn’t about throwing ice on these sorts of public activities. Bravo to those who can do them. But what about those of us who appear perfectly able to do them and say no for the reasons that are not necessarily visible?  Teachers and students alike. How do those of us who have this aspect to our personalities navigate a world that so adores Ice Bucket challenges and similar sorts of things?

7 Comments

Filed under In the Classroom

7 responses to “In the Classroom: Thoughts on Ice (Buckets)

  1. Jennifer A

    Monica, I’m with you. (Introverts Unite – separately, in your own homes!) Because of projection, I make the assumption that these ice bucket videos are self-aggrandizing. I know that’s an unfair characterization, but the introvert in me sees that kind of activity and automatically labels it “show off,” because that’s what it would be if I did it. For more extroverted folks it’s perfectly natural and well-intentioned, but it does leave the introverts in the awkward position of spoil-sport. I remind myself that I don’t support philanthropic causes to get attention, and that if I want to spread the word and raise awareness there are effective ways to do it that don’t involve making a video of myself. I have to be satisfied with that and just keep doing what I’m doing. Extroverts always get more attention – so what else is new!? I have no problem explaining my decision if it’s a disappointment to the person who asked – hopefully that will suffice.

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    • Laura

      Dear Monica and Jennifer, I can completely understand your reluctance to participate in a public display, and I’m for it. It seems to me that the line between private and public life has been broken and frayed by social media–by many kinds of media, in fact.

      However, Jennifer, I don’t think the ice bucket video participants are self-aggrandizing. The thing is, many of us have friends with ALS, and we have to stand by and watch them get weaker and there is absolutely nothing we can do. There’s no cure; there are no drugs; there are no treatments. So the idea of having a bucket of ice dumped over our heads is downright appealing–it’s SOMETHING we can volunteer to do. We can even scream hysterically while we’re doing it, which releases a little bit of tension.

      It is also perfectly acceptable to forego the ice and just send the check. The ice just creates a context.

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      • Jennifer A

        Laura, I only said it seems self-aggrandizing – that is the nature of projection. We ascribe our own motives to others’ behavior. I know many people have done it for the best possible intentions. One of the hallmarks of introverts is to think – or overthink – situations, rather than cheerfully jumping onto bandwagons. Overthinking and bandwagon-jumping are both effective methods, but they appeal to very different people and they attract different kinds of notice.

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  2. Laura

    Dear Jennifer, you are right–I didn’t read carefully enough. I guess I had a knee-jerk reaction, and I expressed myself badly. I think under ordinary circumstances, I’d be saying, “Why do they have to dump buckets of ICE over themselves, for crying out loud? Why not quietly send a check?” But this time I’m on the other side of the fence, because there’s something about the absurdity and humor of the ice bucket challenge that has caught people’s imaginations. A woman on PBS said that the ALS Society gained 53 million dollars in August alone–which is unbelievable. And the silliness of the challenge is giving people hope. So for once, I’m with the people with the video cameras and the Tweats and Twitters….Misery makes strange bedfellows.

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  3. I hope this post didn’t come across as a criticism of the Ice Bucket challenge. I agree with you, Laura, about it having caught folks’ attention in a good way and have gotten quite a kick out of it all. This post came from me being more and more worried I’d be tapped to do it and trying to figure out what I’d do if that happened and then extrapolating from that.

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  4. Thanks for this post. I couldn’t have put it into words, but the idea of doing the ice bucket challenge horrifies me, personally. I’m fine with other people doing it, but I don’t like the idea of pressure to do it. Especially having it videotaped. Shudder, literally and metaphorically. I think the main reason that I eloped instead of having a big wedding was that I didn’t want to be the center of attention :-)

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