Children have an open and candid faith, and upon that the teacher builds. They are unquestioning and receptive to the deepest mysteries of religion. It is only when the pupils grow older that doubt and skepticism may appear. This fact is partly natural and partly due to the prevailing attitude of some teachers of secular subjects: take nothing for granted, question and inquire, test and prove to your own satisfaction all that you see and hear. All principles and truths are thus called into question. The catechist must point out that the doctrines of the Church are not to be treated in the same way as conclusions in the experimental sciences. One does not test religious teachings in a laboratory, but there are certain truths which we take on faith; and it is enough to point out that they are not unreasonable or contrary to reason.
– Very Rev. Joseph B. Collins, SS, Confraternity Teacher’s Guide (1960)
These are some of the words that might come to mind when the average person thinks about introverts. Most of us think of them as immersed in their own worlds, unable to cope with social situations, and less likely to contribute ideas and innovation compared to their extroverted counterparts.
The book is composed of four parts. In the first, Cain begins, not with neuroscience or psychology, but culture. Specifically, she explores how modern western society came to embrace the “extrovert ideal.” This ideal embraces the outspoken, the fearless, and the gregarious over and above the quiet, the timid, and the intimate. Yet, as studies have shown, it is the gifts of introverts that actually lead to greater creativity and productivity in the workplace.
In the second part Cain explores the biology of introversion, highlighting research demonstrating that introverts actually process sensory input differently from extroverts. She also talks with experts researching the interaction between a person’s genetic makeup and environmental factors that may influence their temperament.
The third part explores extroversion and introversion in other cultures, while the fourth gives concrete strategies for introverts and extroverts for dealing with the differences between the two. This includes a very interesting chapter on how parents can help their introverted children.
Cain includes an impressive amount of interviews and anecdotes which serve to illustrate the research and studies she discusses. Cain talks with Harvard business students, an evangelical pastor, children, a beloved psychology professor, and others. These help to flesh out some of the drier academic content and put real human faces to the struggles introverts overcome.
If you have an introvert in your life you want to understand better — or if you are an introvert and want some strategies for living in an extrovert’s world — Quiet is the book for you.