Monday, March 30, 2015

Are Introverts Worse at Friendship?

I had to teach a lesson that included a 25 question "Friendship Quiz" to third graders. The students were asked to rate themselves: 1 - Never, 2 - Sometimes, 3 - Most of the time, 4 - Always.  I must say, at the outset, that some of these statements seemed above the level of third graders, who are mostly 8 and 9 years old.  But some of them also made decidedly uncomfortable.  Remember, this quiz is titled "Friendship Quiz", so if you think of yourself as a good friend, you want to score pretty high.

Some of the statements that were to be rated:
I enjoy meeting new people.
I enjoy group activities.
I can carry on a conversation with someone I have just met.
I am able to find something I like in most people.

It seems to me that the quiz favors extroverts and that it would leave introverted students feeling as though their less gregarious characteristics mean that they aren't good friends.  There is a scale at the end of the quiz.
     75 - 100 points - You probably already have a lot of friends and are able to get along well with them most of the time.
     50 - 74 points - You have the potential to make friends, but you are probably having some problems  in some of your friendships.
     25 - 49 points - You have much room for improvement in your ability to make and keep friends.

And it was clear that some of the students NEEDED to rate themselves highly on everything.  One young lady gave herself straight 4s.

So, I have several questions about this lesson.  Is it appropriate for third graders?  Reading level: It seems to me that it was worded as though it was intended for older children or adults.  One of the statements was "I avoid criticizing friends."  Quite a few of the students did not understand the word 'criticizing'.  Emotional awareness: again, it seemed to me that some of the concepts might be unfamiliar emotionally to third graders.  How many third graders actually think about their ability to carry on conversations with strangers?  What about the kids who are told to not even talk to someone they don't know?

Then there was the one that was in specific conflict with something they had been told earlier in the year:  I am able to keep a secret.  Evidently, they had been explicitly told that "there are no secrets" at their school.

There were, as I said, 25 statements to this quiz and a number of them, including others not detailed here, made me a bit uncomfortable.  Not only would they make introverts feel as though they were bad friends, the level of introspection might make all the kids a bit anxious about their personalities and their reactions to normal events (meeting someone for the first time).

And a final question: given that the quiz made me uncomfortable and that I thought many of the questions were not worded in a helpful way, is there any way I could have gracefully gotten out of teaching the lesson?  I am a sub and this is a really nice school.  I enjoyed the day with the class.  I really don't want to alienate the teacher.  But I also don't like some of the messages the lesson has.  What should I have done?  What could I have done differently?


  1. I am not sure if you could have avoided giving it, but you may have "re-worded" it.
    We, as sub. teachers, really have little say in what the classroom teacher wants taught other than if she has mentioned in her lesson plan that it is okay for you to modify what she has left for the children to do. You may want to talk to that teacher, or other teachers that you "sub" for and ask their opinion once you get to know the teachers and the school.. just a thought !

  2. I did attempt to "re-word" some of it, but it was two pages and small print, so I didn't read the whole thing to the students. As I said above, one of the statements that was least understood was the one with the word "criticize" in it. But it was hard to think of a neutral example of criticizing something.