So there's this article about introverted kids needing to learn to speak up in school. Basically, the teacher wants to compel introverted kids to speak up in class, even though, quoting her, they "live in fear of being asked these sorts of questions."
That makes me very cross. That sounds more like a kid who hasn't done the reading, or who has a full-fledged social anxiety disorder. Being introverted doesn't mean you live in fear of speaking in public (although it might be something that requires considerable effort). It doesn't mean that being asked a question that requires thought makes you feel ill!!! (though it may be distasteful).
Here's a comment I got from a professor in grad. school--"When Charlotte chooses to participate, her comments are very insightful." If Charlotte had been forced to participate, she could probably have come up with lots of fairly articulate b.s. Which would you rather have, if you were a teacher? (the answer is probably Charlotte choosing to participate more, but you can't have everything.)
I'm just an introvert who's taken lots of classes, not a teacher, but here are what I see as the three main problems introverts face in classroom discussion:
1. The introvert sits quietly, listening and thinking. Then the introvert wants to share her idea, one that she may well have been practicing in her head--and she can't cut through the extroverted babble of the conversation so as to be heard. She gives up.
2. If she does get a chance to speak, it might seem like there's no meaningful listening, and it might seem that her words weren't worth saying because they're just being brushed aside while other people's words go galloping on.
3. If the teacher does call on the introverted student, who seems to have something to share, but asks a specific question instead of issuing an open invitation to talk, the kid might give only a cursory, reluctant answer, because it wasn't what she wanted to share.
So the idea of a teacher pushing and prodding at introverts to get them to talk seems rather repugnant to me, and the wrong way to go about encouraging them to participate. I think it would make much more sense to
1. pay as much attention to them as possible--the introverted kid might not be jumping up with her hand in the air, but may simply be sitting up a little more eagerly and trying to make eye contact when she wants to be called on.
2. make sure to validate their thoughts when they do share, which will encourage them to keep talking. As in--"Thank you. That was an excellent point. Here's what I think in response..." perhaps even encouragingly asking for more elaboration.
3. when calling on the introvert, often just saying "Charlotte?" (or any other appropriate name) is enough. Not: Charlotte, what do you think of Specific Thing X?
4. perhaps to break the class into smaller discussion groups, so there is more chance to choose to take part.
End of my thoughts on introverts in class discussion circumstances.
Postscript: My own 9 year old son is an introvert. When asked by his teacher to identify an area in which he was weak, and wanted to improve, he chose "working in groups." But afterwards he confessed to me that it was a bad answer--"I don't really want to work better in groups; what I'd really like is not to have to work in groups at all." However, at the same school last year, his teacher let him leave circle time occasionally when he needed a break from togetherness--I love that teacher.