In a PYP classroom, you will most likely find the old system of seating arrangement (rows) gone. Little pods of desks and chairs are grouped in ways that promote conversation. Students are expected to work in groups to solve problems, ask for help, give help, etc. And yet have you ever wondered about students who don't like to talk that much or mix with others. There could be that one child who sulks in the corner, refusing to collaborate with his peers, much to the chagrin of the teacher. "Your child must learn to contribute during group activities..." could be one of our thoughtless comments on a report card. I am sure it's hard for many adults to think in the midst of noise! Maybe looking at the social skills (collaboration) in isolation is wrong. How about keeping in mind thinking skills in tandem with collaboration. First think things through...then collaborate.
I am an introvert. I enjoy retreating into my little corner and contemplating about things...my life, my job, my students. They all come to life in my mind. At times, I talk things through with...myself! That's when things begin to take shape, crytallize, evolve. That's usually when I find solutions to niggling problems. It is now, after this period of silence, that I feel more empowered to share my thoughts with my colleagues. Mind you, I can be impulsive and blurt our things, but it is usually with people I trust not to ridicule me. Imagine a child being ridiculed for saying the wrong thing? This fear can be crippling when the teacher insists that a child share her thoughts with her peers.
Creativity needs space, time and silence. How can that happen when we thrust children into a maelstrom of problems, posters, pens and general pandemonium!
I came across this Tedtalk video, where Susan Cain talks about the power of introverts and how they can be a valuable part of a team, if given enough space and time to think things through.
So teachers, maybe we need to re-think some of the seating arrangements and strategies in the classroom? How about a couple of seats in isolation? Observe which child(ren) gravitate towards them.
I leave you with a cartoon that summarizes the post :)