Tag Archives: Education

Great Podcasts for Education

Early this year my car radio decided to quit and I haven’t had chance to fix it yet. Given I work an hour away from home, this could make for some very long and boring commutes to and from school. Luckily there are a whole range of interesting and informative podcasts that I’ve managed to track down, and I thought I’d start to compile a list of suitable educational ones here on this blog.

Are there any educational podcasts that you love? I’d like to keep expanding on this list so please let me know!

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Learning to lead…first steps

What does it mean “to lead”? Or to be “a leader”? Or to show “leadership”? These are words and phrases that we  use often in students’ reports and that we include in CVs and cover letters. But what do they actually mean? To me, leadership has always been about initiative, collaboration, communication and action. But others may see things differently. Perhaps we think about people who have been famous leaders and use them as a symbol of our definition of leadership. But what makes them leaders? Is it who they are, what they do, how they go about it or why they do it (or a combination of all of these)?

Throughout the past four weeks, I have engaged with an online course titled ‘Leadership: Identity, Influence and Power.’ Presented by Randal Tame from the Macquarie Graduate School of Management, this is an introduction to leadership skills and strategies available free of cost through Open 2 Study (an initiative of Open Universities Australia).

There are four modules to the course, with a week allocated to the completion of each module and its assessment.

1. The Romance of Leadership

2. Leadership Theories

3. Leaders and Followers

4. The Practice of Leadership

For me there have been two main take-aways for this particular Professional Development which have helped start to refine my definition of leadership. Firstly, the four rules of leadership and secondly, the three skills of leadership.

The Four Rules of Leadership:

1. Be one of us – someone who is seen as an effective leader is seen to be “like” the group they are leading. Leadership theory states that the most influential person is an in-group prototype who is adaptable to changes in the group identity.

2. Do it for us – a leader must be the champion of the group’s interests. They do not treat themselves differently from any other member of the group and are perceived to be fair, respectful and creating a vision with the group

3. Craft a sense of us – a leader helps to form a sense of the group’s identity and to help members understand who “us” is. They are representative of the group. There are three aspects to this – the leader’s use of language, how they structure activities and actions, and how they harness the energies of the group.

4. Make us matter – a leader builds credibility within the group by making the group identity important and acting in a way that benefits the group.

The Three Skills of Leadership:

1. Reflecting – discovering what really matters to the diverse sub-groups within the group

2. Representing – Communication, collaborating and motivating. Working with each sub-group to attend to their visions and values and bring them together in a cohesive approach.

3. Realising – helping the groups to accumulate things that are of value to them, and working with them to create a social world within the organisation in which they want to live according to the collective values. This involves goal-setting and using relevant policies and practices to achieve the defined goals. It is important that these goals are S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-Bound) and that the strategies are R.I.T.E (Relevant, Implementable, Timely, Engaging).

As a young teacher who has had some leadership opportunities and whose role increasingly requires working with and leading staff in EAL strategies, I am interested in further developing my skills and practice and this course has provided a great theoretical starting point. At the beginning of the first module, Tame recognises that the course can only scratch the surface of leadership theories and practice, but it is certainly a useful foundation for further study.

 

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ASFLA Conference 2013 – Day 1

After successful pre-conference workshops yesterday by expert linguists Sally Humphrey, Susan Feez, David Rose and Peter White, the ASFLA Conference was officially opened this morning by Professor Clare Wyatt-Smith, the Executive Dean of Education at the Australian Catholic University.

This was followed by the first key note speaker Emeritus Professor Frances Christie, with a paper titled ‘Seizing the moment: the case of English literature studies.’ Christie unpacked how students are expected to adopt a particular ‘gaze’ or knower code in order to respond to literature. The paper was heavy in systemic functional linguistic terminology such as semantic waves, semantic gravity and semantic density, which are rarely – if ever – used in teacher education or in the classroom. However, as the talk unfolded, it became apparent that as teachers we refer to the same or similar elements of responses to literature that Christie was discussing, but we use different terms that are more accessible in a classroom setting or to those whose training is not in the field of systemic functional linguistics. These new concepts acquired through Christie’s presentation were very useful for coming to a deeper understanding of how students need to create meaning in their responses to texts.

After morning tea, delegates broke off into concurrent sessions. Len Unsworth’s presentation considered ‘visual grammatics’ through a study of student interpretive responses to images in picture books. The data was collected and divided into three kinds of responses:
tactical – seemed like students were simply tying to find something to say
mimetic – students were aware of interpersonal meaning but did not technicalize awareness
semiotic – three levels within this response 1) descriptive of interpersonal meaning, 2) technical naming of interpersonal meaning, 3) interpretive, where students relate interpersonal positioning in an image to thematic concerns of the story

The first round of data collected was simply written responses, and very few students from the sample of Year 4 through to Year 10 managed to go beyond the mimetic or early semiotic responses. Interestingly, however, the second round of data, in which both written and oral responses were collected, showed that students could begin to express the interpretive response verbally even at Year 5, when they struggled to express it on writing. This raises questions for educators in terms of how we help students to express the same meaning in an interpretive way through writing. It’s not that they are not capable of the necessary thinking skills , but they don’t necessarily have the formal written language to express these ideas.

Another fascinating concurrent session was that of Lars Salomonsen and Winnie Østergaard, titled ‘Developing a language-based teaching of Maths in primary school using the mode continuum as a teacher planning tool.’ This paper followed how the presenters worked with trainee Maths and Danish as a Second Language students in Denmark to enhance the learning of Year 1 students through language. The presentation provoked fascinating discussion between linguists and educators of varying backgrounds, but a general understanding was met that language, visuals, and symbols are equally important to student learning in mathematics, reaffirming the importance of a cross-curricular approach to literacy.

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More concurrent sessions followed after lunch before the first day concluded with the second key note speaker, Peter White. White spoke about “issues associated with authorial identity or persona.” This identity is often seen as flexible – constructed, produced or performed through language according to the requirements of specific communicative events.

Day One of ASFLA’s Conference was engaging and stimulating. The conference attracts delegates from a range of backgrounds, providing the opportunity for academics, linguists, educational consultants and educators to come together and understand the practicalities of each other’s work. This is crucial given that the work of one does, in fact, impact upon the work of the other. What better opportunity to bridge gaps, come to better understandings, translate academia into practical classroom approaches and celebrate the amazing work that is going on in our universities, education departments and schools.

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Blogging and your online profile

Question: If you were to do a Google search on your own name, what would appear on the results page?

I ask this for a reason, not simply because I want people to satisfy their inner narcissists. Through the rapid increase in social media, people’s lives have become more and more public. As a result of this, it has become increasingly common over the past decade for potential employers to “google” the names of applicants to their organisation. Decisions can be made about that applicant and their suitability for the company based on what the search engine digs up about them.

Scary, right?

Maybe. But maybe it also presents an opportunity for individuals to take control of their online reputations in a powerful way. As educators, we spend so much time teaching students about their own digital footprints and online reputations, but is everybody also walking the talk?

Our digital profiles can paint a picture of us as individuals and as professionals in one of three ways:

1. Over-sharers of personal information who should review the privacy settings of our personal (insert name of relevant social networking site here) page.

2. Technology-savvy professionals who use social media, blogging and other tools effectively to network, collaborate, share ideas, and create.

3. Or…non-existent (at least according to cyberspace).

Personally, in a professional world so driven by local and global connections, I know which I would prefer….

Today I presented two short workshops to staff at our school about the place of blogging in education. I started by explaining how I began my ed-tech journey, which has been discussed in a previous post on this blog, and then launched into the question: WHY BLOG?

In researching this presentation, I came across many reasons that people blog professionally and academically:

– facilitate reflection on learning (for students and teachers)
– record professional development
– promote collaboration
-connect with others locally and globally
– writing practice for students
– share ideas and resources
– authentic audience
– share class news
– a digital display of learning

I have posted the link to the Prezi for my whole presentation below, but there are a couple of points I wanted to focus on in particular here.

The Australian Curriculum is now upon us and has been for some time for English, Maths, History and Science. In my opinion, it seems to call for greater metacognition and reflection on learning than we have seen formalised in curriculum documents prior to now. It also recognises through the General Capabilities and the Cross-curricular Priorities the increasingly connected world our students (and our teachers!) exist in. The public but moderated realm of the educational blog means that students can connect with an  authentic audience, engage in discussion and productive critique, share ideas and connect with others locally and globally – all the while continually learning, unlearning and relearning in an authentic manner as the AC proposes they need to be able to do. Of course, the achievement standards will be met in different ways in different subject areas, so it is open for collaboration and negotiation between teachers and students to set the parameters and expectations. These blogs are also the beginning of a personal profile that students can present to future employers as evidence of a vast range of skills needed for the workforce of today and the future.

In regards to educators, blogging is a fantastic way to engage with and reflect on professional learning, connecting with others from outside of one’s usual group of colleagues. These reflections and new knowledge can then be shared through professional networks on social media such as Twitter, Facebook and Linked In. Also, with the AITSL National Professional Standards for Teachers now in many educators’ minds, it is a great time to recognise where educational blogging helps teachers to meet these standards. Not only is a blog a great record of professional learning required for re-registration, but it specifically ticks the boxes a number of the standards. Take the highly accomplished teacher standards for example. A professional blog goes a long way to achieving the requirements for the following:

2.6 Information and Communication Technology (ICT) – Model high-level teaching knowledge and skills and work with colleagues to use current ICT to improve their teaching practice and make content relevant and meaningful.

4.5 Use ICT safely, responsibly and ethically – Model and support colleagues to develop strategies to promote the safe, responsible and ethical use of ICT in learning and teaching.

6.2 Engage in professional learning and improve practice – Plan for professional learning by accessing and critiquing relevant research, engage in high quality targeted opportunities to improve practice and offer quality placements for pre-service teachers where applicable.

6.3 Engage with colleagues and improve practice – Initiate and engage in professional discussion with colleagues in a range of forums to evaluate practice directed at improving professional knowledge and practice, and the educational outcomes of students.

So, I want to finish with the question: the next time someone “Googles” your name, what will they find? And what do you want them to see? Over-shares of your private life, the internet’s equivalent of white noise, or a connected professional who engages in life-long learning and development with colleagues from across the country and world?

Full Prezi: http://prezi.com/x6riavwg9tkn/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy&rc=ex0share

Pressed for time…

After an email from a parent tonight, I was left in a bit of a pensive mood. I reflected on the fact that teaching is one of the few professions where there is an unwritten expectation from some people that we fix the problems of all of our clients, 30 young people at a time in a 45 – 90 minute time slot, as well as helping them learn skills and content. That’s a tough ask, and made me feel a bit disheartened. Then I did the maths.

As a secondary school teacher, I teach approximately 150 kids across 7 classes. Let’s say I’m in the classroom for 5 hours a day. That’s 300 minutes of face to face time. Now, I usually see about 90 of those kids per day on average. Divide 300 minutes by 90 and mathematically speaking, each student should get 3.33 minutes of time with me per day. Oh, but then subtract the time I spend instructing, talking to the class, dealing with behavioural issues, supporting the students who are struggling the most. Time is whittled down until some kids don’t get any one on one time at all.

This disheartened me even more. Until I let the maths go and thought about it from a social/emotional perspective.

This is the reality of secondary teaching, but the kids cope. They may not all get equal one on one time with us (as much as they are entitled to, in my opinion) but that doesn’t mean they’re not watching us, learning from and with us and engaging with us. It doesn’t mean we’re not helping them in one way or another just because we don’t spend 3.33 minutes standing by their desk, just for them. Hopefully they develop the capacity to become the independent but connected problem solvers they need to be out in the big wide world. Because it’s not the teachers who need to solve the kids’ problems – but we CAN help them with the skills to find solutions.

So to get back to my opening point: no, teachers cannot fix all of the problems that kids face. As much as we’d love to, there’s not enough time in the day. But what we do manage to achieve in that average of less than 3 minutes per kid per day – knowing them, caring for them, nursing them – is pretty darn amazing and something we can be proud of!

iPad mirroring on a budget

I’ve been a little quiet on here lately. To be honest, things have been flat out with planning, teaching, marking, parent-teacher interviews, professional development, study and finding time to have a bit of a life in there somewhere.

But I wanted to take a moment to plug an app I came across last night. I’m planning on investing in an Apple TV in order to mirror my iPad wirelessly onto the projectors at school and display a huge range of cool audiovisual content. However until then, I’ve been on the hunt for some way of mirroring on a budget. So imagine my excitement when I found this handy little app.

Air Whiteboard is selling on iTunes for just a couple of dollars. It allows you to project the documents on your iPad onto other iPads or computers by streaming to a web browser. Simply connect the devices to the same local area network, type the web address provided on your iPad into Chrome or Safari, and away you go (theoretically). You can use it as a blank canvas to write or draw on, or mark up documents uploaded from Google Drive or Drop Box.

Whilst lagging a little, the app worked beautifully when connected to my home internet streaming to my laptop, and reasonably well on the school’s internet streaming to my Year 11s’ laptops. But they are an exceptionally small class, and it didn’t function quite so well when attempting to stream to the classroom projector or with a larger class. These are issues I will continue to investigate and post about later if a solution reveals itself. However, for the cost of the app, it does most of what I would have hoped for while I wait patiently for my new techno toy in the form of Apple TV. That’s when the fun will really start!

School Improvement: we all want it…but what does it actually mean?

During a conversation this afternoon, our principal asked a colleague and I to define “school improvement.” After taking a moment or two to consider my response, I realised that he had essentially asked us a trick question. And I thank him for that, because it really got me thinking.

The term “school improvement'” is one that is used often in current political, social, cultural and educational debates and agendas. From politicians to social commentators to principals, teachers, parents and sometimes even students – we all want improvement, yet it seems that we can’t necessarily come to an agreement about what that means. But during today’s meeting, it hit me that perhaps the reason we can’t seem to come to a common definition is because we are all looking at it with different hats. So we need to consider the perspectives of all stakeholders.

The government seems focused on standardised tests and funding. It seems like a cold, heartless approach. However they need evidence that they are allocating money effectively in order to provide the best possible education for all Australian students. Many would argue that they may be misplacing that funding. I’m not going to enter into that debate here, but what I do want to acknowledge is that whilst I, as an educator, may cringe at the anonymity of standardised tests such as NAPLAN, the government needs tools of some sort to gauge how millions of Australian students are progressing.

If we consider individual schools, the focus moves to ensuring that students have the opportunity to access appropriate pathways upon leaving school. There is also a focus on developing leadership and positive citizenship. What we see here is the holistic education of the ‘whole child.’ This becomes even more so when we narrow our focus to examine what is going on in individual classrooms. Within my classroom, school improvement is about helping the individual child recognise and develop both their strengths and weaknesses, helping them to build resilience and a positive self-image and expectation of personal success.

As was pointed out during our discussion, parents perceive school improvement from a different perspective. For them, it is about their child being nurtured, encouraged and supported to achieve personal success – whatever that may be for the child.

And for students, I believe that school improvement is about feeling welcome and loved, confident of personal success, and as my colleague pointed out, “interest and relevance.”

It is clear that the key stakeholders desire success and improvement for students, but that they come at the concept from very different angles. And the story becomes more complicated when we consider demographic. The social and cultural composition of the community in which a school exists has a very strong influence on the school’s role and goals. For example, a school located in a low socio-economic area would have very different goals from one in a more affluent area. That is not to say that expectations for success are lower in the first community, but more that success is defined or identified in different ways.

Perhaps what we need to do is accept that, whilst we might not always agree with each others’ approach, key stakeholders all want the best outcomes for Australian education. “School improvement” will ultimately mean different things to different people, and will differ from school to school. Individual schools and teachers can make use of tools through groups such as AITSL and ACER for quantitative data, but it is crucial that they revisit their aims and mission statements and measure their improvement qualitatively. It is in this that we can truly identify effective school improvement: how well are we addressing and achieving our stated aims in order to provide the best educational experience in relation to the specific needs of our students and school community?

 

Children constructing and owning their own learning – two inspiring TED talks

I’ve been spending some time today reading and researching for a paper that focuses on the connection between constructivist theories and the idea of ‘connectivism’ – almost a form of constructivism for the digital age. After wearying of reading, I decided to search TED talks for some practical and engaging discussions based one or both of these theories. As usual, TED provided some gems:

1. Kiran Bir Sethi teaches kids to take charge

Working on the principles of building awareness, enabling and empowerment Sethi’s students learnt the value of acknowledging ‘I can’ to help them construct knowledge and connect with others to solve community issues – learning by doing. Improvements were seen in the students’ academic performance as well as their social activism.

2. Sugata Mitra: The child-driven education

“Children will learn to do what they want to learn to do.”

Sugata Mitra explains his “Hole in the Wall” project, the results of which demonstrated that in an environment that stimulates curiosity, children will learn effectively through self-instruction and peer-shared knowledge. Mitra and his students achieved some amazing things by connecting with each other and with teachers and learners across the globe. He proposes a self-organising system of learning – one in which the system structure appears without explicit intervention from outside the system (i.e., teacher acts as a ‘guide on the side’ not a ‘sage on the stage’, allowing students to construct and own the learning).

Constructivist theories allow students to engage in authentic and meaningful learning, as demonstrated in exceptional ways by Sethi and Mitra. It is not necessarily about the teacher simply standing off to the side and giving learners absolute free range, but it does redefine the roles and responsibilities of teachers and students. What I am now interested in exploring is how social media and other networks can contribute to this learning to create a form of constructivism that is even more “connected” than ever before. One that helps students to be the “owners” of their own learning and to engage with and implement solutions for real-world problems, thereby empowering them to be the leaders of the future.

A response to the Gillard government’s plan for education reform

As I was browsing my Twitter feed this morning I came across a news.com.au article that gave me cause to reflect and be a little concerned. The article (which can be found here) outlines plans by the Gillard government to increase teacher quality through the introduction of NAPLAN-style exams and emotional intelligence and aptitude tests. There are a lot of teachers who are very unhappy about this proposal, not because they don’t support school improvement, but because this is not the answer to issues in education. What follows in this post are a series of quotes from the article and my own responses to what the government is suggesting.

1. “From 2016, anyone wishing to enter a teaching degree would be asked to provide a written statement outlining their suitability for a place, as well as undergoing a series of interviews to test whether they have the resilience and emotional intelligence or EQ for the role.”

This statement led me to ask myself, ‘If I were ten years younger and hoping to become a teacher, would I pass these tests?’ The Literacy and Numeracy tests wouldn’t have been an issue, but the resilience and emotional intelligence tests I’m not so sure of. To be completely candid with my reader, I am not even sure that I would have passed it upon the completion of my tertiary studies, let alone when I started university fresh out of high school. I strengthened my emotional intelligence and learnt my resilience partly through my practicums, but mostly in the classroom as a fully qualified, full-time teacher. Positive psychology suggests that resilience is innate in some people, but can be learnt by others. I fit into the second group. Until my first year as a graduate teacher, my life experiences to that point had not required great resilience. Sure, I had learnt to cope with minor obstacles like a lower than hoped for grade – but I had never been exposed to situations that required the level of emotional resilience for what I faced in my first year as an educator. And while this did bring me to breaking point early on in my career, I learnt that resilience quickly and I’ve become stronger personally and professionally every year because of it. But does this mean that the government should have been able to preclude me from my desired career as soon as I applied for tertiary studies?

2. “They would also have to demonstrate suitable values and aptitude by providing a portfolio of activities such as coaching a sports team, volunteer work or community involvement.”

While this seems like a reasonable idea at first glance, basically what it is assessing is whether somebody wants to commit themselves to helping others. In reality, very few people in their right minds would go into teaching unless they had a genuine interest in and commitment to helping young people develop into well-rounded and successful individuals. As incredibly rewarding as teaching is, it is not all sunshine and roses. Someone who goes into teaching and sticks with it WANTS to be there and the government ought to give them some credit for that.

3. “In order to graduate as teachers they would need to perform in the top 30 per cent of the population in numeracy and literacy tests, which would be part of their course. “

Teachers need to be literate and numerate. Agreed. But I would question why ANYBODY is graduating from tertiary studies with a less than adequate level of literacy and numeracy.

4. “Teaching students who failed to meet the benchmark would be offered classes to meet the requirements.”

That’s great. But I would be interested to know the statistics surrounding how many Education students are actually illiterate or innumerate. As far as I am aware this has not been released -so is it actually an issue or is the government clutching at straws?

 

Having read the article and reflected on my own immediate reactions, I decided to refer to AITSL’s National Professional Standards for Teachers. Ability in literacy and numeracy can be connected in various ways to the domains of Professional Knowledge, Professional Practice and Professional Engagement. Of course it is implied that a level of emotional intelligence is needed in order to know learners and to work successfully with groups of people (part of Professional Knowledge), but this comes down partly to theory and partly to practice. However, factors surrounding resilience do not appear anywhere in the standards for graduate teachers. This is something that is not learnt through theory and that many people need the opportunity to develop through real-life experience.  So why would we test high school graduates on it and make a decision there and then about whether they are cut out for teaching?

I am supportive of a plan that positively promotes quality teaching. But I am deeply concerned that this plan would deter or preclude potentially incredible teachers from the profession. We hear on one hand that ‘there are not enough teachers’ yet on the other hand, with the implementation of such a plan, early decisions will be made about people’s careers that will prevent them from teaching. The government cannot have its cake and eat it too. Quality teaching is crucial, but I think they are missing the mark on the indicators of what will make a trainee teacher successful in the workforce.

Susan Cain’s ‘Quiet: The Power of Introverts’

Happy New Year, all! As 2013 arrives, so too does the halfway point of those blissful six weeks called the summer holidays. One thing I really enjoy doing during the break is catching up on some reading that I otherwise struggle to find the time to do during school term. Currently at the top of my reading list are Susan Cain’s fantastic book Quiet: The Power of Introverts and Michael Lewis’s Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game. The former has been recommended to me by several colleagues and was also brought to my attention when I viewed the author’s passionate TED talk (accessible below). The latter was a thoughtful gift from my baseball-mad partner who has just returned from the US. I suspect this is a not-so-subtle attempt to further educate me in the intricacies of his beloved game.

Whilst I am yet to get stuck into Moneyball, I have just finished reading Cain’s Quiet, which is, without a doubt, one of the most refreshing, enlightening and thought-provoking books I have read. Cain explores the nature of introversion and extroversion and considers how in western countries there exists an ‘extrovert ideal.’ She argues that this ideal often dictates people’s perceptions about how success is achieved and what kind of people achieve success in their lives. Because it is perceived that extroverts gain more power, wealth, confidence, and so on, Cain, backed by wide-ranging research, suggests that introversion is often unfairly undervalued and pathologised.

The book considers extroversion and introversion as being on a spectrum, and each person will lie somewhere along that line – not all introverts will be entirely withdrawn all of the time, and most extroverts will have some degree of introversion about them. It looks at how many of the world’s great leaders have been introverts (including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniack, Microsoft’s Bill Gates, Rosa Parks, and Gandhi) because of their innate ability to listen to others and take the time to consider prior to acting, unlike some their more headstrong counterparts. Of course, this is not to say that extroverts can’t be great leaders, but outcomes can often be very different. Introverts can also be fantastic public speakers, sales people and work in other highly communication-driven roles, but often bring their own distinctive strategies for rising to the challenge.

Cain also explores the cultural differences between western countries and Asia and how that affects which personality type is more highly valued. She undertakes a particularly interesting analysis of the clash of cultures that Asian-Americans often find as they try to balance the more introspective, reflective approach with an emphasis on listening, reading and writing that is valued in Asia with the more verbal western approach.

Finally, Cain looks at the implications of this refreshed perspective on introversion for education. Current educational trends champion verbal communication, constant group work and connection with others. But at what cost to those students who would truly prefer to work individually, and flourish that way? This is certainly not to devalue group work, but as an introvert myself, I know how exhausting and overstimulating it can be to be constantly working with others. Some children, teenagers and adults, just need time to enjoy solitude. Not loneliness. Solitude. To think. To reflect. To create.

Personally, I found this book incredibly refreshing and helpful. As I read, I found so many similarities between myself and Cain’s introverted subjects that it is becoming apparent that what I used to think was ‘something wrong with me’ (a tendency to prefer time at home alone over a social occasion, a preference to work on a task individually and in my own way, an aversion to large groups of people) may actually be a strength rather than a problem to be ‘treated’. Of course, there will always be occasions when I have to bring out my extroverted side – my role as a teacher requires that of me. But I feel more comfortable doing that at school because I love my job, which makes it far easier to take myself out of my comfort zone in order to achieve what I want to achieve.

So I suppose the lesson here is that, as educators, we will inevitably have both extroverts and introverts in our classroom. How will we cater for all of them? Extroverted students may come to our attention more quickly than their quieter counterparts, so Cain calls for some “[focus] on introverted children, whose talents are too often stifled, whether at home, at school, or on the playground.”

The following passage, found in the Conclusion of Quiet summarises beautifully the lessons that I will take from this wonderful book:

“Whether you are an introvert yourself, or an extrovert who loves or works with one, I hope you’ll benefit personally from the insights in this book. Here is a blueprint to take with you:

Love is essential; gregariousness is optional. Cherish your nearest and dearest. Work with colleagues you like and respect. Scan new acquaintances for those who might fall into the former categories or whose company you enjoy for its own sake. And don’t worry about socializing with everyone else. Relationships make everyone happier, introverts included, but think quality over quantity.

Figure out what you are meant to contribute to the world and make sure you contribute it…

Respect your loved ones’ need for socializing and your own for solitude (and vice versa if you’re an extrovert)…

Spend your free time the way you like, not the way you think you’re supposed to…

If your children are quiet, help them make peace with new situations and new people, but otherwise let them be themselves…

If you’re a teacher, enjoy your gregarious and participatory students. But don’t forget to cultivate the shy, the gentles, the autonomous, the ones with single-minded enthusiasms for chemistry sets or parrot taxonomy or nineteenth-century art. They are the artists, engineers, and thinkers of tomorrow…

If you’re a manager, remember that one third to one half of your workforce is probably introverted, whether they appear that way or not…

Whoever you are, bear in mind that appearance is not reality.”

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