Shyness as Absence
The Formidable Prison of Shyness
“What other dungeon is so dark as one’s own heart! What jailer so inexorable as one’s self!” ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Shyness of Family Members
“This is the curious abyss that divides the closest kin, that the tender curiosity appropriate to lovers is inappropriate here where the bond is involuntary, so that the most important things stay undiscovered.” ~ Angela Carter, novelist
Engaging the Shy Student
As teachers we encounter them every day. They often sit in the back of the classroom, in the far corner of the room, or near the door for a speedy getaway. They seldom speak in class, unless directly spoken to. Some do not even make eye contact with us. Although these students may be attentive in class and do good work, they really excel at one overriding skill — averting attention from themselves. Like butterflies blending into their surroundings, chronically shy students have learned a similar survival skill — disappearing in plain sight.
Shyness is a major phenomenon. Recent statistics estimate that 50% to 60% of college students report being shy. Shyness is also a durable phenomenon. It has consequences far beyond college, impacting one’s career success and life-long earning power. Research indicates shy employees make less money than non-shy colleagues, due to less frequent requests for raises, lowered visibility on the job, which often requires greater speaking and leadership skills, and more job-interview difficulties. In addition, shyness is an all-encompassing phenomenon, influencing not only career and income, but also one’s relationships, social network and long-term health. Shy individuals report greater health problems because of poor social support networks, so critical in maintaining health. And if shyness becomes chronic, it can scar one’s later years, leading to severe loneliness, psychological problems, chronic illness, and a shorter life-span.
This blog will mine the collective experience and practical wisdom of teachers and other specialists in elementary, secondary and post-secondary education to engage shy students in productive classroom work.