When Lily Shum was little, she dreaded speaking up in class. It wasn’t because she didn’t have anything interesting to say, or because she wasn’t paying attention or didn’t know the answer. She was just quiet.
“Every single report card that I ever had says, ‘Lily needs to talk more. She is too quiet,’ ” recalls Shum, now an assistant director at Trevor Day School in Manhattan.
She doesn’t want her students to feel the pressure to speak up that she felt.
That’s why she’s joined more than 60 educators in New York City recently at the Quiet Summer Institute. The professional development workshop was based on Susan Cain’s bestseller Quiet: The Power of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking.
The book has been a national phenomenon, and it’s the inspiration behind a curriculum developed by Heidi Kasevich for teachers.
“It was a lens through which I could view my entire life, and really feel the license to be myself,” says Kasevich, a teacher for more than 20 years who now works for the company Cain co-founded to promote the book’s message about introverts.
Illustration: Dave Van Patten for NPR
I often found that relying on children to speak up more was just a way for lazy people to put the onus of forming a bond with the student on the child. We insist that children speak up and then slap quotations like these all over our facebook timelines:
“Better to remain silent and bethought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt. It’s better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than open it and remove all doubt.Better to remain silent and bethought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt. It’s better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than open it and remove all doubt.”