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The most articulate comments pointed to my lack of understanding about the nature of introverts, and the least articulate informed me where to shove my computer keyboard.
Unlike the comments that made me feel upset and defensive, two thoughtful responses elevated the discussion and led me to dramatically change my thinking: Katherine Schultz’s Washington Post article “Why Introverts Shouldn’t Be Forced to Talk in Class” and Susan Cain’s “Help Shy Kids, Don’t Punish Them” in the Atlantic.
I tucked myself away in a quiet corner of Dartmouth’s Baker Library with these interviews and my thrice-read copy of Susan Cain’s Quiet, its margins filled with my notes and its pages decorated with post-its, and wrote my Atlantic article.
I was feeling pretty confident when it went live the following week.
Our communication had disintegrated over time to the point that I feared we would never reach a mutually satisfactory conclusion.
At the time, class participation was a small but symbolically significant part of my grading.
I’m not talking about the value of communication as it relates to grades here; I am talking about the value of communication as it relates to personal health, happiness, and safety.
A student who is unwilling to stand up for herself and tell me that she does not understand the difference between an adverb and a verb is also less likely to stand up for herself if she is being harassed or pressured in other areas of her life.
The impact of this grade was not, however, the point.I learned that while it can be inconvenient to accommodate different personality types, it’s worth it.