Equity & Diversity

Should Introverts Be Graded on Classroom Participation?

By Liana Loewus — February 08, 2013 1 min read
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In the Atlantic, teacher Jessica Lahey makes an argument for continuing to calculate classroom participation into student grades, despite complaints from the parents of introverted students.

According to Lahey, these parents assert that she’s “not meeting their child’s unspoken educational needs” or that she’s “causing serious emotional trauma by requiring their child to speak up in school.” Lahey, a self-described extrovert who is married to one introvert and mother to another, remains undeterred. She writes:

When a parent tells me that his or her child is simply not capable of communicating educational and emotional needs, I see a child even more in need of mastering interpersonal communication. 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.

Lahey goes on to point out that Rosa Parks was an introvert, and yet she “spoke up and claimed her rightful place in the world.”

In May, Education Week reporter Sarah Sparks wrote about ways to improve academic outcomes for introverted students, based on a 2011 study.

Teachers: What are your thoughts on this? Is Lahey right to push students to speak up against their nature—and to grade them on it? Are there ways to teach assertiveness without measuring it?

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.


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