THINK…about SILENCE

SILENCE, it has always been a part of my life, either in an obligatory manner or as a sought after means of meditation and relief …

I grew up being asked by the school nuns to be silent in church, to be silent when the flag is being raised or when the principal is talking…and although I kept silent I never heard anything, at least nothing interesting to me and my young mind…

Later I learned to understand and even expect silence in church, in class, when the flag passes in front of me…

SILENCE drew on a deeper meaning during my “two year sabbatical” in Mexico City where I had, for the first time since I’ve been a mother of two, real whole hours of true SILENCE. A silence that at times became too loud to bear and at others the most valuable characteristic of the building where we lived (which jokingly I’d call THE GERIATRIC WARD).

SILENCE in Mexico City also took on a new tint for me when my husband and I attended the funeral services for the seven people, close friends and collaborators to our President; that died in a helicopter accident. That was a surreal moment of silence in which I felt I could hear everyone’s thoughts full of memories and sorrow, I could hear the hearts pounding with grief and pain…

So silence is a personal requirement of mine when I need to gather my thoughts, when I have to give answers to questions and it is my indispensable tool when I want to write.

Apparently SILENCE decided not to make the trip with me back to my hometown…and I feel like a junkie in rehab: I NEED SILENCE OR I’LL DO SOMETHING CRAZY…Yes, my writing and my logical thinking thrived under the influence of SILENCE and now I’m having to deal without it…

Is it a thing of us elderly people to over-appreciate something so abstract, to become so dependant on this thing that we don’t even have control over…We may ask for, demand, expect silence but if others don’t give a bat’s wing for it then silence lovers will have to find another way to fill the need

Knowing that I wasn’t getting SILENCE from my high school students I had to resort to DEMANDING it…something I had never had to do in all my years’ experience…I had always supposed that at their age it was well understood that in the classroom, to achieve the day’s objective, SILENCE was the most important element, until now. Today I resorted to a strategy I had refused to apply because of its infantile approach but I had no choice. Today I added WORK IN SILENCE to my evaluation criteria.

To accept that I needed to coerce them into being SILENT or lose 25 points from their grade took so much of me and my faith in a young person’s good sense. This is how it’ll work, pretty simple, really: every time I ask them to be quiet I take 5 points, giving them 5 times- yes, 5 opportunities to understand that I need, THEY NEED silence to work in MY class. There are the exceptions that have asked for permission to write or read with their headphones on, just as long as what’s going into their ears isn’t coming out of their mouths and that by the end of the class they’ve got evidence that that’s their ideal way of working.

SIGNS OF THE TIMES? I don’t know! Maybe…just like many other things have changed…I think I’ll fight this as long as I can, with prehistoric means, because it may be an ancient teaching strategy: the student is in absolute silence when in the classroom and will speak only after he/she has raised his/her hand and the teacher has called upon him/her…THEN CALL ME OLD FASHIONED.

When writing the post I stumbled upon this article…

Silence as a teaching tool

Teachers fill their classes with sound. A lecture or assignment that excites a lively class discussion is deemed successful. It is also productive to fill them occasionally with silence.  …

My pedagogic specialty is the application of the principles of linguistics to the writing classroom, and one area of linguistics concerns how ideas are created before they are voiced or written down. Ideas come as plentifully from silence as they do from discussion.”

It goes on to talk about meditation in the classroom as a means to achieving silence that’ll enhance their writing abilities…

I won’t go into the meditation part of the article because I can’t even quiet my mind long enough to remember a phone number much less to guide a meditation exercise, but the introductory idea backs up my belief that, put in the perfect words by Ann Evans, SILENCE is and always will be a TEACHING TOOL, for both school and life lessons!

Hugs people…

Enjoy the Silence (Depeche Mode)

2 responses to “THINK…about SILENCE

  1. I’ve come to believe that as we value the coccoon silence creates for us, young people form their own coccoon with noise…although different experiences in the end we are all looking to distance ourselves from the mundane to connect, as you well say, with ourselves and with our God…Thank you for your lovely comment🙂

  2. Without silence we can never come home to ourselves nor to each other. We can never connect with our God centred self, our soul, so we will be adrift, away from home.This is why I love meditation and mindfulness. Great post. Thanks

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