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Quiet Appreciation

August23

This summer I read a book titled Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain. As an introvert myself, but, ironically, one who can’t stop talking, I found the title intriguing. A trend in education today is toCapture4 use collaborative learning in the classroom. Advocates contend that it prepares students for the workplace (making me wonder how today’s employees adapted to working in groups without the use of this technique during their years of education). Other claimed benefits are better retention of knowledge and the production of more creative ideas.

Group learning is designed for extroverts, people who like to talk and who are energized by being with other people. Introverts, on the other hand, are more sensitive to sights and sounds, and tend to withdraw when over-stimulated by being with groups of people. They are energized by being alone with their thoughts. Extroverts are spontaneous, speaking out immediately, while introverts are more thoughtful and deliberate. Introverts don’t share their ideas with just anyone. Thus, even without the explicit use of group learning, classroom education is designed for extroverts. The classroom itself is a large space with many students. Class participation is highly valued. Students who do not raise their hands to answer questions are encouraged to do so to get a good class participation grade. It is difficult to give time for quiet reflection. After all, how can one think deeply about a problem or a new idea with so many people all around?

Susan Cain says both experience and research demonstrate that group work does not necessarily lead to better learning and more creativity. In fact, observation of group dynamics reveals that the first to speak (the extrovert) usually gets his way, whether his idea is the best or not. Group brainstorming actually leads to conformity. Better students often dislike group projects because either they end up doing all the work (with everyone else sharing the credit) or they cave in to group-think and settle for mediocrity.

So what is the answer?  Should we stop using group learning techniques?  I don’t think so.   Educators need to meet the needs of all students, both the extro-  and introverted ones. However, at a time when extroversion is so valued and promoted, parents and teachers need to be sensitive to the needs of quieter students. We need to understand, accept, and value them. We need to recognize, for example, that class participation doesn’t consist only of speaking up and answering questions. An introvert’s quiet, focused attention on the subject being taught may be more productive than the extrovert’s facile but somewhat off-topic comments during class discussion. Certainly introverts need to learn to cope in a society that values extroversion. They need to know when and how to speak up and be assertive. But we need to affirm and nurture the positive side of their quiet nature—their sensitivity, loyalty, and thoughtfulness.

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Farewell to CCA

May15

Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father

and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son,

will be with us in truth and love (2 John 1:3).

                From the time I started first grade—and perhaps even earlier—I have always wanted to be a teacher.  Since I was educated in public schools and received my BS in English education from the University of Wisconsin,  I did not fully appreciate the importance of Christian education when I first began teaching at CCA back in 1986.  As a committed Christian believer, however, I soon learned the meaning and the importance of Biblical integration in the curriculum, and today I cannot imagine leaving my faith at home when I teach.  Jesus prayed that God would sanctify His followers by the truth, and then stated that God’s Word is truth (John 17:17).  As an English teacher, I love words and know their importance.  And as a human being living in a broken world, I value truth.

                Over my years at CCA I have been privileged to work alongside parents who also value God’s truth and entrust their precious children to my moral and academic instruction.  I have been blessed to work with other teachers who have the same passion that I have for Christian education and for our students.  And how could I not love CCA students?  They are a special group of kids.  I appreciate my husband, who has encouraged me in my teaching, even though he would have been just as happy for me to stay at home.  Every weekday morning he prays that I will be an effective teacher.

                I have worked under five administrations at CCA.  I am thankful to them for giving me the flexibility to work sometimes full time and sometimes part time over the years as the my circumstances and the needs of the school required.   During this past year, I have been especially indebted to their kindness in allowing me to take off several days a month to accompany my husband to Baltimore for his doctor appointments. 

                I have always envisioned being a teacher until the day I die; however, God’s plans are not my plans, and it is apparent that I now need to be fully available for my husband in his illness.  God has given me a surprising (at least to me) gift of peace in the making of this decision.

                God has been gracious to give me a job I have loved for the past twenty years, and a husband who has loved me for the past forty-one years.  As I leave CCA, it is my hope and prayer that my students—both those I have taught and those I had hoped to teach someday—will pursue truth in every area of their lives, whether academic, theological, or spiritual.  Jesus Christ says, “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:32).  He is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).   Seek Him and His truth.

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I am a Christian, a mother and grandmother, a sister, a daughter, a teacher, a widow, a friend. . .  My life is first of all defined by relationships–to God, to my family, to my students, to my friends. Of course, I am many other things: a reader, an e-mail writer, a piano player, and a somewhat reluctant traveler, for example.  And now I am a blogger.  I’m not sure why, except it seems to be a logical next step for someone addicted to e-mail.

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