Shy in School

Introverts (and extraverts) in the school environment

Allison Collier, Reporter

Introversion and Extraversion. We hear those terms thrown around a lot. Introverts are synonymous with isolated individuals, the kind of people who stay at home all the time. Extraverts bring to mind the social butterfly, the ringleader of many circles of friends. However, these are stereotypes, and there is a bit more to it than that.  

The truth is, many of us are on a sliding scale between the extremes of introversion and extraversion, and possess qualities of each. Where you are on that scale; however, can determine the way you perform at school, and understanding it can help you improve upon yourself and be a better scholar.

It can be difficult to discern whether an individual is introverted or extraverted just by looking at their social habits. The main difference is that introverted individuals get their energy from within themselves, whereas extraverted individuals get their energy from outside of themselves.

According to Psychologist World, “Many people will exhibit extraverted behavior to different degrees in particular situations.”

Sally Chen, junior and AP psychology student, said, “People can change and act differently based on their environment.”

Hans Eyesenck, a psychologist who spent much of his life studying personality theory, asserted that people have a certain type of nervous system that affects the way people can learn and adapt to their environment. He used the terms that Carl Jung (another psychologist) had coined to describe this phenomenon.

Aimen Bouchama, junior and AP psychology student, said that introversion and extraversion is mostly learned, based on your previous experiences in childhood, when people are at their most impressionable.

According to Eyesenck, people with high extraversion show a preference for more stimulating environments, whereas people with low extraversion (introverts) show preference for less stimulating environments.

Put all of this together, and you’ll start to see how the school environment is set up to favor different groups at different times. Students are expected to speak out, raise their hands, collaborate with each other, and generally thrive in large groups. The school environment is also generally a loud one, with loud lunchrooms and hallways.

Madison Freeman, junior and AP psychology student, is a self-identified introvert. Freeman said school sporting events and the cliques formed at school are a big example of these kinds of environments, where students may face judgement by their peers for not enjoying or participating in them.

On the flip side, extraverts may struggle with quiet work environments, such as the ones enforced during AP and EOC testing, and are expected to perform their best.

Both Freeman and Bouchama agreed that introversion and extraversion “affect people everywhere in the school.”

Knowledge of your personal preferences and needs can be applied in the school as well. Where an extravert might find the most value in asking questions in class and comparing answers with peers, an introvert might find the most value in researching independently or reviewing notes on their own at the end of class.