28 October 2012

The Power of Quiet

As a student, I often felt the need for a quiet pause in classes; the quiet pause to reflect and consider what the teacher had been saying, to doodle my thoughts, making connections in my mind. As a teacher, I have always believed that lessons don't have to be all bells and whistles and chandelier swinging.  For every teaching context, there are moments when quiet is a welcoming break in the classroom. 

This also makes me consider quiet students. One of my best students this semester happens to also be the quietest. Yet this student is always ready to help peers, may seem absent minded but is following the lesson and activities, participating in her silent way. 

There is a difference between silence and quiet. Silent classrooms have an eeriness if stone silent. Quiet classrooms provide learners with an inner space for making connections. 

Along with quietude, I also have come to the point where, as much as I use digital technology in classrooms, I am constantly questioning myself:

*  How will the technology enhance learning or improve the lesson?

* Does there really need to be activities with digital tech when sitting on the floor or using the white board would suffice? 

Technology - digital or other - is a tool, not the learning itself (It's Not About The Tech. As much as digital technology may add value to the learning process, there is also the risk that one may fall into the trap of evaluating the look of technology rather than the content. For example, despite providing students with guidelines on blogging and how their blogs will be assessed, there may be thin lines at times between how an activity is presented (e.g. creating and embedding a popplet) and meaningful content that it may have. 

On the other hand, assessment is too often too silent - learners are given back their grades and marks, yet what is it that they are learning? Ideally, there would a quiet time scheduled in the semester/term, after exams so that teachers could confer with students on their assessment rather than rushing forward with fresh syllabus.  In this way, there would be enough time for both teachers and students to engage in an assessment dialogue, instead of being pinned down by numbers and statistics, which to me, don't particularly foster understanding nor learning.

Before ending, I'd like to share  Bloom's Digital Taxonomy Wheel & Knowledge Dimension  (posted previously in Digital Tech & Daily Practice), which is another reminder of how evaluating digital technology and incorporating activities in lessons may be done.

What power do you perceive in quiet?


The slide show above was first posted in Action, Beliefs and Inquiries


  1. Hi Cristina,

    Just to let you know that we’ve shortlisted this blog post for this month’s TeachingEnglish blog award and I’ll be making a post about it on today’s TeachingEnglish facebook page http://www.facebook.com/TeachingEnglish.BritishCouncil, if you’d like to check there for comments.


  2. The power of quiet reflection, whether personal or in the classroom, cannot be underestimated. Its pedagogical value has been touted since the 70's - unfortunately, its practice is lost in most of today's classes.
    Quiet reflection on assessment is also beneficial for the learner, but it must be followed by meaningful, one-on-one dialogue with the teacher.

    1. Absolutely agree with you; often outsiders perceive "learning" when there is a lot of chatter and activity happening; learning occurs in different stages and at different moments. Quiet is not a stumbling block to learning - indeed, it offers reflection and students often tell me that it is in a quiet environment that information makes sense to them.

  3. Lots in that entry to love, most especially the mantra-like comment about how it's about the learning, not the technology.

    1. Hi Maurice, thank you for your time to share your thoughts and such kind feedback - much appreciated. And am glad that you share the same concerns as myself, i.e. despite the digital tech, the focus needs to be on the learning process and not only on using digital tools.