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Shyness Misperceived

An example of why we need a "Quiet Revolution"

There are many issues with how shy and introverted people are misperceived. A friend of mine sent me this letter to the editor from her hometown newspaper. She knows I write on shyness and thought I would be interested. I have edited it somewhat due to space constraints. I also changed a few identifying details.

Dear Editor,

I’m writing because my daughter applied for a competitive Medical Scholars Program at a well-known university. She needed evaluations, which included one from a high school teacher.

Photo by Kyle James, via Flickr

Even though the teacher knew how important this evaluation was, she gave my daughter an average of 3.7 overall out of 6. On the final question, which asked, “In view of this applicant’s strengths and weaknesses, how well do you believe he or she is suited to the study and preparation for a professional career?”, she gave her a 3 with a scoring system of 1-2 as marginal, 3-4 as average and 5-6 as outstanding. Her final comment was that my daughter was “a great girl and very book smart. But because of her shyness, the social aspects of medicine may be a challenge”.

My daughter worked very hard at school. She was valedictorian of her class, and on a grade scale of 4, had a grade point average of 4.11.

She was in band for four years and went to districts with her flute solo. She was on the student council from seventh grade through her senior year. She was in the National Honor Society. She was a homecoming queen candidate her senior year and was the prom queen. She was in the A+ program, which requires 50 hours of volunteering.

My daughter worked hard outside of school as well. She was a Puppeteer, performing during the children’s sermons and at the nursing home. She volunteered for a hospital for five years and was the volunteer of the year in 2009.

When I asked the teacher about her responses on the evaluation, she said that my daughter was quiet and shy and she just had to be honest. I went to the school board with this information. They appeared to believe that there wasn’t any problem since the teacher gave the evaluation to us and did not mail it in, and my daughter was accepted to the program.

The superintendent commented that if the teacher was having a problem with the student, she should have called us, the parents, about the problem. I’m thinking, “What problem?” She was valedictorian of her class, earned the top grade award all three years, and she is quiet and shy?

Please tell me where the problem is.


Concerned Parent

For a great post from Susan Cain, author of the New York Times Bestselling book, Quiet, on what teachers really think about shy students, click here.

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Learn more about Nurturing the Shy Child by clicking here.