an interesting take on "silent" students ...

Mary M. Reda writes in her Chronicle article, "What's the Problem With Quiet Students? Anyone? Anyone?" that "speaking out" is a "complex negotiation" rather than simple "boredom, confessions about being unprepared, [and/or] angry litanies of alienation."

Comments

julieannstella said…
It's interesting that quiet students are considered so much a problem. I'm sorry to hear they (we) cause so much frustrate among instructors and professors.

I think it's important to remember that the loudest and most outgoing people do not necessarily have the market cornered on valid opinion or analysis. Just because they are loud doesn't mean they are correct. As well, consensus is not truth--it is merely consensus.

There is nothing wrong with shyness. There is a place for shy people in the world. We cannot all be extroverted, and sometimes shyness is a simple personality trait. It may have little to nothing to do with self-confidence or social anxiety.

I take a lot of online classes, and sometimes I reveal the fact that, if this were an online class, you would never hear from me. My classmates just laugh (actually, they LOL). They can't believe it's true.

The reason is--I'm a good writer and I can type very fast. I have an easy time putting my thoughts into written words. I am less talented putting my thoughts into spoken words. Written words allow me to plan and manage my thoughts better than does speaking (where there is no backspace key!).

But this situation is not about good/bad professors or teaching. And it's not about good/bad students. It's about fitting your learning style with the education you seek.

I'll graduate with a 4.0 in my MA program in technical communication and rhetoric. I've been asked to submit proposals to conferences, I've worked as a TA and a GA. Shyness has not hindered me in any of these areas.

So, please don't worry too much about shy people. I would posit that if they seem to turn in excellent quality work and seem to be listening in class, things are fine. They're just not huge talkers. If you can recognize their excellent work and offer constructive help on their less-than-excellent work, I would expect they would greatly appreciate it. Shy people want to achieve great things. They're just not going to ever shout it to the world.