Monday, September 16, 2013

Reading Nikki (should I just write Nicole?) and Irwin...

solitude groupthink web 2.0 power home team
I read Irwin's and Nikki's posts. They both mentioned using Web 2.0 and Blackboard. (Just so I can get my labels in!)

It was interesting because Irwin outed himself as an extreme introvert. (Thanks for sharing, Irwin!) I think it's important because Irwin always strikes me as someone who is not anxious to get his point out, but when he does speak it's insightful and interesting. (Sometimes I get anxious that we won’t hear from him.) I guess my point is that it's not as if he's shy or has nothing to say. Cain distinguishes shyness (from introversion) as fear of social judgment. So I'm thinking about my *shy* students compared to those who are *quiet*. Irwin also underscores Cain's observation that in the U.S. there's a bias toward volubility. (I loved how Vanessa shared her inner-thought experiences in high school being so preoccupied with when to "jump in" the conversation, she was barely listening to what was said.) So what kind of values have we internalized and what are we unwittingly reproducing? And what is the loss? 

Nikki's post picks up on this bias: In the business world, there’s such a value put on group work and collaboration. But there it may actually work. Nikki observes, “although employers do require ridiculous amounts of team work (as cited in the Groupthink article), it is those companies which allow their workers autonomy and creativity that are cited as some of the best places to work and are consequently some of the most successful companies in their respective fields.”

As educators, are we hoping to replicate the corporate success of groupthink and its success and incorporating autonomy, etc.? If so how can we design better activities to glean the success and elide the traumatizing (re: Vanessa) or silencing (e.g., what if we didn't get to hear from Irwin?)

Nikki writes (and I'm adding all the emphasis): "... one big thing that jumps out at me is that last semester, my Community 2.0 project required students to work in groups in class, and then with others across classes. There was never a moment for independent work or contributions based on work done by an individual working in solitude. Everything had to be brainstormed, and everything had to be worked on in collaboration with team members. Students did not have the opportunity to sit in class, or go home, and take some time to tackle ideas on their own before sharing them with their groups.

I'm thinking about this this semester! 


  1. Thanks for the kind words, Maria! To be honest, I consider myself shy as well as highly introverted. It's something I've struggled with my whole life. Anyway, I share your concerns about whether or not our pedagogy largely replicating the dominant culture's over-valuation of extroversion, despite our best intentions. This is actually a HUGE quandary I've wrestled with throughout my time at LaGuardia. As professors, we're often the front-line enforcers of the dominant culture, whether we like it or not. For example, I have no choice but to incorporate a ton of CATW (CUNY Assessment Test in Writing) prep into my curriculum, despite my pedagogical, political, and ethical misgivings about such ultra-high-stakes standardized testing. Fortunately, there's always at least a little room to question and resist the status quo. We can start to practice some introvert-supportive techniques into our teaching. In my own comp classes, I've started distributing a questionnaire on the first day of class. Along with the usual questions (name, major, writing classes taken, etc.), I include items like "Are you interested in group work? Why or why not?" Knowing my these preferences helps me provide various modes of feedback, class activities, etc. It's far from a revolution, but it's a step in a more inclusive direction.

    1. Hi, Irwin. Thanks for sharing that you're shy. So again, my assumptions become more discriminated. I like the idea of your questionnaire. While it helps you to get to know your students, it may also help them to get to know themselves. (Maybe it would even be fun for students to fill out the Quiet questionnaire and have it as a springboard for talking about their participation in class. (As we did here.) Just thinking out loud...

  2. Hi Maria,

    Thanks for your thoughtful reading of (and response to) my post.This semester I have really taken the lessons from our Quiet readings and discussion to heart. I am very cognizant of the fact that in the past I have not facilitated discussions in a manner which allows those who need some time to get their thoughts together, to do so. It is such a shame, and especially annoying to me, that I have not provided these opportunities to students as much as I should, particularly when I am one of those very students who needs a moment to gather my thoughts and perhaps even jot a few words down to help me in my responses. I have started requiring about 20-30 seconds for students to THINK before they are allowed to raise their hand, and most certainly before I call on them. I think it has made a big difference for everyone. Students who are not as quick at raising their hands as their gunslinger-esque classmates are starting to respond more, and since everyone has an opportunity to really think about what they are going to say, the responses are richer and more meaningful. I'm really glad that we had the opportunity to explore Quiet in this seminar!!!

    1. Hi, Nicole. That's a great idea to incorporate the 20-30 seconds. The challenge is that "time is money" and we spend it sparingly in this culture. How as teachers can we "afford" more? I love the expression "gunslinger-esque." You see it everywhere--and I can definitely be one of those people: Using talk to hear our own ideas. It's a shame if people aren't listening; sometimes though the talk is literally "brainstorming" and not well formed thoughts. There needs to be a place for all of it: well formed thoughts, good listening, brainstorming, "talking it out." A big problem can be the size of our classes! There's just not enough time/space, etc. But little things (tweaks) can end up making big differences. Irwin (above) gives out questionnaires; you have students reflect a little before the speak. Irwin says, it may not be "a revolution, but it's a step in a more inclusive direction." But I think it is a revolution--and maybe the only way it can happen: from the bottom up. I bet it makes a big difference to your students.