All of these approaches can help achieve Lahey’s aim of giving shy students the confidence to speak up for themselves. But none of this necessarily means we should grade students based on their class participation, since that effectively penalizes children for their fears. In other words, shy kids should be helped with a carrot, not a stick.

I’m also old-fashioned enough to believe that grades should assess a child’s proficiency at math or science or history, not their ability to speak in front of a large group. Knowledge matters. Deep thought matters. Mastery of a subject matters — even in a world that can’t stop talking. It is not irrelevant that American schools, which value verbal confidence at least as highly as quiet study, are falling behind their international peers.

Help Shy Kids—Don’t Punish Them. The tyranny of the extraverts strikes again.