Crane Country Day School Established 1928

Crane School Blog: Focus on Learning

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The Power of an Introvert
Elizabeth Del Negro

“Don’t underestimate me because I’m quiet. I know more than I say, think more than I speak and observe more than you know.” MICHAELA CHUNG 


I read Susan Cain’s book, Quiet, recently and it dramatically changed the way I relate to the world at Crane and beyond. It is as if I see through a more accepting and inclusive lens because in her book she gives permission to...

“Don’t underestimate me because I’m quiet. I know more than I say, think more than I speak and observe more than you know.” MICHAELA CHUNG 


I read Susan Cain’s book, Quiet, recently and it dramatically changed the way I relate to the world at Crane and beyond. It is as if I see through a more accepting and inclusive lens because in her book she gives permission to stop making self-negating choices that mimic the life and choices of extroverts and be just as I am—a shameless introvert. Like me, a third to a half of all people identify as introverts—people who require quiet spaces to think and create. Yet, we move about our lives feeling somewhat unnatural and taxed because of the fact that our most important institutions are designed for extroverts, environments of high stimulation and constant participation. Contrary to the goals of the current trend at workplaces and in schools with their open office spaces and pods of desks, new data shows we are finding a decrease in creativity and productivity in collaborative arrangements.


Extroverts and introverts are defined by how they respond to stimulation. Introverts feel the most switched on in quieter environments. As an introvert here on campus, I deeply appreciate Crane’s vision to include quiet corners and activities such as: sitting gently with a chicken in the coop and walking daily by the classroom gardens, 35 minutes of daily SSR (Silent Sustained Reading), curling up in the English Nook by its cozy fireplace, Mrs. Cope’s puzzle table in the Brittingham Family Library, and Mr. McKenzie’s strategy board games elective. You’ll find me tucked away behind a garden bed in the company of bugs and birds.


Cain calls on the need for much more privacy, freedom, and autonomy in our institutions to allow for deep thinking. She believes solitude matters, that it is the essential ingredient for profound epiphanies and revelations. She focuses on the central challenge for schools to bring out the best in all types of students, introverts and extroverts alike, rather than forcing introverts to act as extroverts in the classroom. In her work she discusses how teachers use group work, how we can assess students participation while being inclusive of quieter cultures, and rallies the necessity to help quieter kids develop social graces and skills to promote leadership and relational intelligence. Cain believes social skills and team work are important, likewise the synergistic meeting and exchanging ideas in the public spaces of the work place; but by illustrating the accomplishments of great thinkers with their streaks of introversion that have taken to the woods like Thoreau or holed up in their room like Steve Wasniak, she emphasizes how it is the world’s loss to ignore the quiet talents and gifts that introverts add to society. Let’s not overlook the quiet ones all around us, and listen a little more to what they have to say.


“A Manifesto for Introverts” from Cain’s Quiet: The power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

1. There's a word for 'people who are in their heads too much': thinkers.
2. Solitude is a catalyst for innovation.
3. The next generation of quiet kids can and must be raised to know their own strengths.
4. Sometimes it helps to be a pretend extrovert. There will always be time to be quiet later.
5. But in the long run, staying true to your temperament is key to finding work you love and work that matters.
6. One genuine new relationship is worth a fistful of business cards.
7. It's OK to cross the street to avoid making small talk.

8. 'Quiet leadership' is not an oxymoron.
9. Love is essential; gregariousness is optional.
10. 'In a gentle way, you can shake the world.' -Mahatma Gandhi” 


Elizabeth Del Negro

Garden Coordinator

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