Susan Cain, author of The Power of Introverts, spoke recently at the TED event about the virtues of introverts. Though they’re made to feel like outliers and pushed to participate in groups, both in schools and at work, Cain says introverts often produce great, creative, thoughtful work.
In schools, specifically, Cain says classes are designed for “extroverts’ need for lots of stimulation.” Kids work in groups on subjects like math that require solitary thought, she says. “Kids who prefer to work on their own are seen as problem cases or outliers,” she says. “Teachers think the ideal student is an extrovert.”
But there’s “zero correlation between the best ideas and the best talkers.”
Though kids do need to be encouraged to work together, she says they also need to learn how to work alone because “that’s where deep thought comes from.”
“We have a belief system that all creativity and productivity comes from an oddly gregarious place,” she said.
And for those who are introverts, she wishes them the “courage to speak softly.”