I’ve had a month to think about it. For me, there is an excellent case for the use of silence in restoring some calm to a twitchy mind. However, is there a specifically pedagogical argument for its use as a structured part of a curriculum?
In her article Helen Lees argues that it a) is more democratic b) encourages intimacy c) promotes reflection. I’m not sure quite how it is more democratic other than the obvious point that it gives the class temporary respite from those who tend to dominate the discussion. Can it encourage intimacy? Comfort in silence can be a sign of intimacy but is that confusing cause with effect (i.e. a comfortable silence is a symptom of intimacy rather than a cause of it). Does it promote reflection? It can, but as I’ve argued in a previous post that can just as easily be achieved *while* something is talking. So, what does that leave us?
In the end, perhaps I’m scrabbling around for sophisticated answers when the best one has already been said. Perhaps the true value of silence as a pedagogical tool is that saying noting is better than saying something for it’s own sake. By accepting silence we give ourselves the opportunity to consider what we want to say next. As someone whose mouth works considerably quicker than his brain, this is a tremendously valuable lesson to learn.
I guess, sometimes you just need to learn when to stop.