The Disadvantage in Education for Introverts

Kyra Bergerud, staff writer

Extroversion and introversion can have a significant impact on a student’s thought processes and learning methods. While an extrovert gains energy by being around other people, introverts are energized by spending time on their own. As a result, extroverts and introverts often have drastically different learning styles and preferences. Due to these difference, introverts are disadvantaged in the school system.

According to a study from Forbes, approximately one third to one half of the population are reportedly introverts. Despite this, many functions of society still favor extroverts. One of the most prominent examples of this is the school system.

Extraverted individuals are by nature more outgoing and energized in groups. This means that in the classroom, extroverted individuals are stimulated by their surroundings. Thus, they are much more likely to participate in class discussions and group activities.

Whereas extroverts focus on the external world, introverts focus on ideas that are more conceptual and less tangible. Hence, in group settings, it can be difficult for introverts to contribute. Introverts spend a large amount of time gaining internal stimulation. This means that in a large group of people, introverts feel energy-drained and unable to access their deep thinking skills. Unlike extroverts, interaction in groups is not stimulating for introverts.

As an introvert, I have always been told that my deeper reasoning capabilities were advanced, but that I needed to speak up. For a long time, I tried. I spoke up, desperately hoping to fulfill the extroverted expectations that had been forced upon me. Every time, I was left only with the feelings of stress and exhaustion. I didn’t understand why I had to force myself to articulate my reasoning when it seemed so effortless to others.

From the time children begin their education, there is a push towards extroversion. Children who are more introverted are singled out and made to feel as if there is something wrong with them. Often teachers convey through parent-teacher conferences starting from a young age their student’s “personality flaws,” or a critique of how the introverted child functions. This trend continues in both primary and secondary education. Shy children are told they just need to apply themselves or be more willing to participate. Throughout school, blame is pushed onto the student for something that is genetically and biologically a part of them.

In high school, these inequalities are further entrenched with large focuses on things like group projects and discussions. Introverts feel large amounts of pressure to conform to the inherently extroverted act of class participation, when in actuality their true strengths lie internally. The idea of challenging all students is often observable in classes, but more often than not the challenge is for introverts who are forced to go against their neurology.

Especially in high school, there’s a large emphasis on working with others. This can be very detrimental to students who are more introverted because the focus on job training doesn’t take into account that there are multiple paths and outlooks people take. So when these students are put into group projects, they can be left feeling rejected, and isolated from their peers.

As an introvert, I eventually found solace in writing. Unlike class discussions or projects, writing didn’t make me feel lost. Instead, it gave me an outlet to find my voice. I could articulate what I wanted to say the way I wanted to say it. As an introvert, it wasn’t forcing myself to be extroverted that made me learn best, but cultivating my individual talents that really gave me a voice.

The school system’s push toward group work and discussions means that students with certain personality traits are hurting, while others gain a large advantage. These inequities between extroverts and introverts further entrench societal expectations and pressures.