October 29, 2008KR BlogUncategorized

The Bad Silence

Teachers sometimes speak of the bad silence. In instructing, they commit a fatal error: They try to get students to speak.

The tragedy opens with a provocative, well worded question. Students respond, but by saying nothing. Actually, to say they say nothing overstates it, as it ascribes intent to the action. No: as the static facial expressions indicate, the question has not penetrated the cerebellum far enough to find response, even a silent one.

Such silence has the ability to shake from teachers all concentration, resolve, and will to live. Some teachers have had pedagogical glands so brutally throttled by bad silence they don’t survive the period. Some poor souls, following such death, even leave teaching for law school.

It doesn’t have to be this way, comrades. The above instance depicts an accidental triggering of bad silence. What if such triggering weren’t accidental? What if, instead of asking a question in hopes of eliciting an answer, one asked with full knowledge there would not be an answer? If an answer immediately follows, well then, let surprise lift your spirits. But if the more probable silence ensues, let it simmer. Sooner or later, the students will hear you. When they do, don’t stop. Let them saut?? in the silence, and let a smile begin to cross your face. The students may be in pain, but they are paying attention.