Silences in Teaching

Les voix du silence dans l’académie


David Grimshire

Shhh! Be quiet. I’m listening to the teacher. I hardly notice my classmates as they listlessly squirm in their seats. Like a good typist, the teacher speaks rhythmically, pausing to reinforce every idea. Clicketyclack, clickety-clack, pause, clickety-clack.

The teacher has stopped talking! A familiar terror builds as time slows. The inevitable question is sure to follow the silence. Maybe someone else will get picked. Eyes downcast, I wait. I can spew back exactly what the teacher said but what if I have to think? Can I marshal my thoughts to provide the answer the teacher expects? I have been asked the question.

A calm follows. I am in control of the silence, delay my answer to emphasize the difficulty. But maybe I should blurt it out to show just how much I know? Like a jigsaw puzzle, the pieces of my answer are fit together. Right or wrong, my answer will elicit a response: then the cycle starts again.

Silence fuels our communication, evokes emotion. Motivates.