1:1 Learning & Introverts

By Emma Castleberry

In 2012, author Susan Cain released a book entitled, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.” This book brought on revolutionary thought about what introverts are capable of and how we as a society can nurture their strengths. Introverts are often misunderstood as shy, antisocial, or even unintelligent because of their reluctance to participate in a traditional classroom that is so obviously catered to extraverts. But in the right setting, introverts are creative, profound learners who can thrive.

In “Quiet,” Cain defines introverts as people who simply “prefer quieter, more minimally stimulating environments.” A 1:1 learning environment is just that – quiet and more minimally stimulating. 1:1 learning is perfect for introverted people for a number of reasons. Here are a few.

1. The setting is quieter

Classrooms are noisy. Even small group sessions can be noisy. This noise can be challenging and even detrimental for an introvert, especially if they are subjected to it on a daily basis. In a 1:1 setting, there are only 2 people. There is no excess noise or background chatter. Introverts can think more clearly in a 1:1 setting because the sound distractions are limited – or even eliminated.

2. The student has more control

In a 1:1 learning setting, the student has the ability to make decisions about their environment and their work. They can control the setting and limit distractions. For example, if working at a desk facing a wall is more productive for them, they can arrange this.  They can also pace the lesson according to their own needs, pausing when necessary andtaking time to think, or leaving a subject to revisit it during another session. Introverts often need time to mentally “chew” on things and 1:1 learning gives them an opportunity to include this time in their educational process. With this level of control over the structure of the lesson and the environment, the student will progress more quickly and see better results.

3. 1:1 learning is more private

In addition to being a quieter, more controlled setting, 1:1 learning is also more private than a general classroom. Sometimes, introverts who feel overwhelmed by a large classroom can find themselves generating better ideas and understanding concepts more fully in private. Though introverts aren’t always shy, privacy can provide them with the mental space to process free from the stimulation of a busy classroom.

4. Communication is easier

A traditional classroom is often crowded, which means students are forced to do a lot of self advocation. It’s not that introverts can’t do this — they certainly can, and very effectively — but it is exhausting for an introvert to have to work for a teacher’s attention everyday. In a 1:1 setting, communicating with the teacher is direct and simplified, which saves the introvert a lot of energy.

5. The student’s role is more active

In 1:1 learning, the student isn’t just one of 25 or 30 – he or she is half of the classroom. This responsibility can inspire introverts to engage more actively in the learning process. Instead of waiting for peers to ask a question or start a project, an introvert has the space, time, and safe environment in which to do these things. Introverts are highly capable of being self-starters when given the right environment in which to do so.

6. A stronger relationship between teacher and student

Introverts thrive on deeply meaningful relationships. In a 1:1 setting, not only does the student have more direct access to the teacher for questions and clarification, but also there is more of an opportunity to build a true relationship. Students and teachers naturally become closer in a 1:1 exchange and this bond increases trust, which fosters a more fruitful dynamic for learning.

Introverts have so much to offer the world, but the proper environment is vital for them to learn and flourish. 1:1 learning provides so many benefits to introverted people: quiet, control, communication, privacy, and meaningful bonds. All introverts can — and should — have the opportunity to reap the benefits of this well-suited educational setting.

Written for the Savvy blog, August 2016.

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