impressionable student reading Pascal's "Pensées"
impressionable student reading Pascal’s “Pensées”

Many years ago I read the “Pensées” from Pascal. I know many of my peers didn’t actually read it cover to cover (as we were instructed to do by our professor) but I did. Much of what he wrote hit a nerve and still today I occasionally find myself in ‘cynical’ mode and thinking back to how Pascal would describe certain things.

Why do we keep ourselves so busy?

Why do people feel uncomfortable with silence?

Why do we not know how to sit quietly in a room?

As a race, we are always ‘busy’ – have you ever stopped and done absolutely nothing? Of course not  – you can’t stop your mind from thinking! In fact, perhaps the actual doing of things is what we do so we don’t have to listen to our thoughts?

But what about teachers – how often do we allow the silence to pervade our classrooms. How often do we allow our pupils/students and ourselves the pleasure of a few moments of silence to take in what we have just learned or to pre-formulate what we are about to say or write?

Rainbow cloud - take time to look up!
Rainbow cloud – take time to look up!

Silence really is golden!

But, cultural differences aside, how long is ok? When does the silence become ‘awkward’?

As with listening skills – can we ‘let go’ enough to trust the minds will not be wandering or will we automatically want to ‘test’ everyone has done what they were supposed to?

Perhaps a totally weird post but I sometimes think we need to sit back and be less ‘busy’ and allow more ‘silent’ (thinking/planning/processing) time in class. What do you think?


3 thoughts on “Spleen!

  1. I can’t remember the last time I had everyone sit in silence without a task for longer than a microsecond. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever done it for the sake of absorbing what was learnt. Times I have used silence though include:

    * waiting for anyone to volunteer the answer to a question I’ve posed (I’ve even said ‘I can sit here waiting for as long as it takes. It’s not awkward for me.’)
    * listening to some 4:40 or something “song” that was a trick to have people notice environmental sounds
    * while they are doing something individually, like reading a text, writing something, listening to podcasts or during an exam

    I, however, do sit in silence from time to time. Where? In the bath. Just gives me some down time to let my mind wander.

    1. Funny – just this morning as part of a class on creative writing (long story to explain the link) I sat back with my students and “watched” a BBC recording of Cage’s 3.33″ being performed. I’ve been teaching in the same room for over a year and only today herd the air-renewal system and the fact that he windows insulate everything except ambulance noises!
      The bath hey? I need waterproof paper and a pencil as I have my best ideas in the shower!
      Maybe I’ll write a bit on the relevance of using your ears for creative writing at some stage…..

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