Big Thinking needs Big Solitude

Our last journal was inspired by Susan Cain’s TED talk in 2012: “The Power of Introverts.” The power of her words reverberated with me because I have always been a staunch protector of my alone time, my time to think, read and clear my head.

It’s especially necessary in my photography work. Berkeley St Sign

There is nothing better than having the time to think and work at getting the shot you wanted.

Privacy brings freedom and autonomy and time to think. Some of us need it more than others do.



The concept of group work has permeated our culture and our schools to such a level that it has left a strange perception of the Introvert behind. I found this statement written by The University of Pittsburgh’s Dean of the Pitt Business School  John T. Delaney. It is on a webpage called “Notes from the Dean”- “The Ideal Student”:

“An ideal student is able to interact effectively with others. Students who are loners, unable to work in teams – through shyness, laziness, arrogance, etc. – and/or dismissive of others often generate less value than they consume. Ideal students enjoy interacting with others and leverage the interactions into partnerships. Whether they recognize it explicitly or not, they are celebrating the fact that combinations of people are able to accomplish things that individuals cannot achieve alone.”

So if we don’t wish to be thought of as shy, lazy or arrogant


we must make self-negating choices to act like:

Kiss Girls on Bench 2

Can you imagine Gandhi, Goya or Einstein being forced into groups constantly to do their work. I believe it would be different world.


When we ask people to think big, or think ‘outside the box’, do we really give them enough space to do it in?

In her article ” Rise of the New Groupthink.” for the New York Times Sunday Review, Susan Cain tells us that: “Solitude can even help us learn. According to research on expert performance by the psychologist Anders Ericsson, the best way to master a field is to work on the task that’s most demanding for you personally. And often the best way to do this is alone. Only then, Mr. Ericsson told me, can you “go directly to the part that’s challenging to you. If you want to improve, you have to be the one who generates the move. Imagine a group class — you’re the one generating the move only a small percentage of the time.”

This course is making us think about how to get our students to think Critically, Creatively and Metacognitively about their learning. These are big subjects that would be fun to discuss in a classroom group, but I’m grateful that I have the time alone to first think before I ‘generate the move’ to write about what I’m learning.

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