I’m reading a book called Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking.

It’s brilliant. It should be required reading teachers, HR, managers, anyone who has to manage groups of people.  The books is particularly relevant to  the design industry because it recognizes that “creative types” are often introverted types.

One point that the book makes that stands out to me is the need for introverts to have peace and quiet and how modern offices are often designed with “open plans” to encourage team work.  The book describes how a few decades ago, managerial types came up with theories about group work being more productive than individuals working together based on the logic that more brains are better than one.  They encouraged offices to break down their walls so that everyone would work together to come up with the best idea.  The trouble is, these theories about productivity have been proven wrong.  Studies have shown that people working on their own in places where they feel comfortable allow them to generate more good ideas than a group of people working together.  People working together were often subject to peer pressure, group think and the fear of their idea being rejected by others in the group, even if they had a much better one.  Introverted people suffered the most in these situations.  Despite the evidence, many workplaces are still designed to encourage constant social interaction

This brings me to the way our classroom is set up.  The author, Susan Cain explains how classrooms at all levels of education are focusing more and more on encouraging group work with the way desks are arranged ( in pods now instead of the old school rows) and other tactics.  For introverts this is a NIGHTMARE.

I like group work, and I like bouncing ideas off people.  I do not like working in our classroom.  Even when we are working in groups I prefer to go somewhere else with the group.  The amount of people, the complete lack of privacy, the noise, the running around ( I could go on but this is not intended as a rant).  I just simply do my best work on my own, in my studio with something playing in the background, usually at night.  I simply don’t get anything done in class and I am usually itching to get home so I can get some real work done.

Cain also talks about how for many people, work environments where everyone can see you and your screen at all times can create anxiety. It doesIt’s interesting how many people work on their personal laptops instead of the much bigger screens on their desks in our class.  I find the classroom physically exhausting to try to work in compared to working in a more private setting.

What I love most about this book is how it makes you feel a bit better about being introverted and liking to work quietly and alone.  It’s just how some people do their best work and we should have flexibility in how, when and where work is done.