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Introverts and extroverts debate prompts discussion

The Centrum on Concordia’s campus filled with blue and green buttons Nov. 22 as students, faculty and staff attended a President’s Seminar about happiness. Those wearing blue buttons labeled themselves as introverts with the question “Am I destined to be sad?” while green button wearers displayed the word “extrovert” and the question “Am I programmed to be happy?”

These buttons were meant to be a conversation starter for the Concordia community to discuss different personality types and how we can better cater to them. The session Friday, Nov. 22 created a stage for four professors to defend both sides of the spectrum and explain why many lie more toward the middle of the road.

Jumping out of his seat, green-buttoned professor Hank Tkachuk started the forum with a little joke: “There was a debate last week by the introverts, but we weren’t invited because it was in the introverts’ minds,” he said.

All jokes made during the session were in good fun, and both sides made points based on research and personal experiences. Fellow extrovert professor Dawn Duncan reminded everyone that although these two personality types carry certain stereotypes, those traits are not exclusive to being an extrovert or introvert.

Using the example of talking versus listening, Duncan explained that while being an extrovert means she loves to talk, it does not mean she cannot listen.

On the flip side, introvert professors Cindy Larson-Casselton and George Connell explained that even though they love to listen, they enjoy and “even crave” deep discussions.

“Introverts are seen by the public as failed extroverts,” Larson-Casselton said.

She then went on to list famous introverts that might surprise the audience. “I think I’m in pretty good company,” she said.

After all four panelists gave their five-minute presentations, the audience was able to ask questions. Many of the questions were about the community created at Concordia, which facilitated a discussion about how to better teach and learn in the classroom for both introverts and extroverts.

All professors agreed that extroverts currently have the advantage in the classroom. This raised the question: how do we make the classroom more accessible to introverts? Larson-Casselton suggested catering to different forms of learning in a single class period.

“My classes are discussion-based, and sometimes I have to wait to get someone to speak … I can wait forever,” Duncan said.

However personality affects learning in the classroom, Connell made sure to point out that there is a place for everyone in this world.

“There is a place for people who can live the introspective life in the world, and some do not need to force themselves to be extroverted,” he said.

Does this introspective life make a person happy? Tkachuk argued that it does not, sharing a study which found that even introverts feel happier when they are around extroverts. The introverts begged to differ, saying that people measure happiness differently.

“I don’t measure if it’s a good life by how many times I am cheerful,” Connell said.

President Craft closed the discussion asking to what extent the college should play a part in facilitating for both extroverts and introverts in the classroom and the community.

Attendees of the seminar slowly exited the Centrum, continuing their discussions on the topic.

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