Group Session, Part 2 (Teach Me Book 7)

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It is during undisturbed alone time that skills deepen, genuine insights emerge, and real progress is made. Indeed, one study of 38, workers identified the simple act of being interrupted as one of the largest barriers to productivity in the workplace. Similarly, repeated studies of that purported bastion of creativity, the brainstorming session, have found that such sessions are at best no better than solitary work, and at worst may result in fewer and poorer ideas.

If solitary work is better than group work, what does this mean for the balance between extroverts and introverts? Simply put, introverts are better suited to working alone. This is not to say there is no place for collaboration or for extroverted employees. Rather, the most effective teams are composed of a healthy mix of introverts and extroverts, as well as a balance between group-oriented and self-oriented work environments.

Try to picture the most introverted and extroverted classmates you know, and think of their strengths and weaknesses in their work, school, family, and other social environments. Now think of where you fall on this continuum. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

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What are the situations when you find collaboration is most useful, and when do you most need to work alone? Do you think all forms of collaboration are the same? What types of collaborative group work projects have you engaged in that were better suited to extroverts? Have you ever worked in small groups in ways that you felt were better suited for introverts? What were the differences compared to working in larger groups, and where did you find the greatest benefits for introversion?

Given your answers to the questions above, what do you think would be the key components of your ideal work environment? How does your ideal work environment compare to your actual work environment? Are there any changes you could make that might bring you closer to your ideal? What are they? Best of both worlds: Divide the class into three groups and present a general problem that fits the nature of the coursework e.

Have each group present their results. Assess the advantages and disadvantages of each approach. Evaluate whether different problems may be better addressed by different methodologies. Write a description of how that model will function when working on a project. Section Overview All of us are constrained by our biological makeup; the genetic code we inherit only lets us grow so tall or run so fast. But is there nothing more we can do?

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Increasingly, scientists appreciate the vast flexibility of our bodies and their ability to adapt to the ever-changing demands of our environment. In this section, we review evidence that suggests introverted and extroverted temperaments are sometimes based on innate biological factors; this evidence also suggests that temperament may be changed through experience. Psychologists use the term temperament to denote innate, biologically based behavioral and emotional patterns that are observable in infancy and therefore are unlikely to reflect any effect from the environment.

In contrast, the term personality is used to describe the complex set of responses both internal and external that individuals display and experience as they grow older. Unlike temperament, personality reflects a complicated interaction between biological temperamental and environmental factors. Some of the most powerful evidence for the existence of introverted and extroverted temperaments comes from a longitudinal study led by Harvard professor Jerome Kagan over multiple decades.

Beginning in the late s, Kagan measured the responses of four-month-old infants as they were exposed to various new experiences.


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Some of the infants showed strong reactions including crying and pumping their arms, while others remained relatively placid. Somewhat counterintuitively, Kagan hypothesized that those infants who were most reactive to the new stimuli whom Kagan called high-reactives would grow up to be introverts. Because underlying the surface quiet of many introverts is a chronic responsiveness to new situations, especially social situations.

Novelty can be fun and exciting, but it also brings uncertainty. In contrast, the calm infants, seemingly unfazed by the new stimuli, grew up to be more extroverted. Do these early differences mean that temperament is destiny?

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Not necessarily. First, as Kagan himself frequently emphasizes, there are many factors beyond high-reactivity that can produce introverted or extroverted qualities. Reactivity to novelty is just one component, and many other aspects of life experience may either enhance or overshadow that component in the shaping of personality.

Second, being high-reactive or low-reactive is a mixedblessing in either case. High-reactives are more sensitive, which can increase their risk of being negatively affected, but can also enhance their ability to learn and grow from enriched environments.

The phenomenon regarding the positive aspects of being a high-reactive child has been further examined in the orchid hypothesis , a term coined by writer David Dobbs. Dobbs suggests that some children are like dandelions, plants able to thrive in just about any environment, while other children are like orchids.

The orchid is more fragile than the dandelion, but given the right environment, it can produce a rare and extraordinary blossom. Chapter 4 Is Temperament Destiny? In this chapter, a lot of data is revealed suggesting that qualities of temperament are manifest from a very early age and that personality is malleable as we grow. What would you identify as your temperament i. In what ways has your adult personality transcended your temperament?

In what ways has it not? Were you surprised to learn that adult personality traits could be predicted by responses to new stimuli at such an early age? If this is true, what do you think it means about how our emotional responses influence our personality? Do you agree with the orchid hypothesis as a reasonable framework through which to view some of the potential benefits of being a high-reactive, or do you feel this hypothesis is biased towards introverts?

What type of data or study would help support or refute it? Shock effect: Create a surprising shock effect i.

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Have students evaluate their response on the Kagan high-reactive—low-reactive scale. Lemon juice test: Have students take the lemon juice test by having them place drops of lemon juice on the tips of their tongues. The theory here is that high-reactives will salivate more than low-reactives.

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Discuss whether the two tests reveal the same temperament in each student. Control group: Have the students split into two groups in two different rooms. Have individuals in each group try to solve as many simple math problems as they can in ten minutes.


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Interrupt one group with some kind of brief startle effect twice during the ten minutes. Evaluate the accuracy and number of problems solved by each group, noting the different results by the control group and the startle group. Interview students in the startle group and ask them whether they feel their results were compromised because of the distractions. For a different take on this activity, instead of introducing the startle effect, the teacher plays loud music for one group and soft music for the other group while they are solving the problems.

Compare how the extroverts and introverts in each group were affected by both music styles. Were there preferences? Home research: Track the number of times you are interrupted during the course of one day and record your responses to these interruptions in your journal.

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Rate the effect of each interruption on a scale from 0 to10 see scale below. Describe what impact the interruptions had on your productivity and how much time it took for you to get back to the task at hand. Oxygen use reflects changes in neural activity as different brain regions become more or less active. Schwartz found that the same individuals who had been characterized as high-reactives in the second year of their lives showed elevated responses to novel faces in a brain region called the amygdala.

Individuals with conditions such as anxiety and depression frequently have been found to have high amygdala responses, possibly reflecting a greater tendency toward worrying. However, with help from the highly evolved prefrontal cortex, most of us are fully capable of overriding our amygdala responses. This is what allows shy people to overcome their anxieties in situations that initially make them uncomfortable, such as attending cocktail parties or speaking in public.

Still, the fact that amygdale responses were stronger in high-reactive children many years after they were first assessed tells us something important about temperament: we can change who we are, but only to a certain degree. Therefore, it is important for each person to learn where his or her own comfort zone lies and to try to stay there as much as possible. Too little novelty can become boring, but too much can be overwhelming.

What are the different challenges faced by high-reactives and low-reactives as they mature?