Keeping Kids Silent in School?

I wasn’t going to write anything up this morning, leaving my FETC – Day 2 for when I arrived at the Convention Center. But as I’m sitting here perusing the overnight news articles I come across this article on and how a private school is banning talking during lunch for ‘safety’ reasons. What struck me eye is this particular phrase by a parent who of course is against this policy.

“They are silent all day,” she said. “They have to get some type of release.” She suggested quiet conversation be allowed during lunch.”

Ok, seems rather innocuous of a comment right? Of course, with the move from elementary schools away from having a ‘recess’ period because the students NEED to be on target academic time to have the most gains for our standardized testing that is performed. Now here’s my take on the rule. I personally have no stake but if the school feels it needs to do it, sure fine. I can support it. But here’s what scares me the most though. It’s the parent’s comment that ‘They are silent all day’ that frightens me.

Back in 2001 I attended a conference sponsored by the Florida Council of Independent Schools where their keynote was a psychologist who spoke about allowing talking in the classrooms. Listening to this doctor, and seeing that it was almost 6 years ago now I’m having a hard time remembering the man’s name but remembering the message, literally changed the way I teach. Up to that point I had only been teaching for a little over a year and hadn’t really come into my own as a teacher, barely hanging on with lesson planning and classroom management. His suggestion was to allow students to talk as much as they needed to help ‘think through’ their work. This meant even talking to other students. This to me laid the groundwork of collaborative project-based learning in my teaching. His final task on us was to think about this question: “How are we to expect our learners to think through the problems that we give them if we are unwilling to allow them the time and ability to solve it with as much input from their peers as possible.”

How does this relate to the classroom of today? Classrooms that use Authentic Assessments, Project Based Learning models using Essential Questioning, with the use of technology, guides the learners to achieve retention of content. This method sparks creativity, collaboration amongst peers and ultimately makes learning fun. Is this not what we are in the business of doing?

Seeking the Wisdom of the Ages…


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