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Getting there


Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Get a load of this: from Li Li, H. (2004/2005), 'Rethinking Silencing Silence'. In Boler, M. (ed.) Democratic Dialogue in Education: Troubling Speech, Disturbing Silence. New York: Peter Lang pp.69-86

Thus, the pedagogical purpose of silent wait time is simply to entail verbal responses...it is clear that silent speculation cannot be observed and measured...the current accountability movement is so outcome driven that many teachers are inclined to view silence as a mechanical device for soliciting observable and measurable responses in either verbal or written form. Hence, modern schooling may recognize the instrumental values of silence in facilitating more speech making; but silence as a pedagogical action may not be grounded in teachers' mindful reflections on teaching and learning. (p.73)

...the desire or perceived need to make more speech reflects the capitalist economy, marked by mass production and mass consumption. The commodification of knowledge at the highre eucation level especially seduces or compels professional scholars and researchers to be "productive" in making speeches, an equivalent of making goods. ... as the most eloquent and vocal teachers and students monopolize discursive practices in the group settings, cooperative learning and collaborative inquiry are bound to fail. (p.74)

As the linear process of teaching and learning moves toward predetermined curricular goals/objectives, both students and teachers often accept temporal constraints of teaching and learning as given. Thus, teachers and students are reluctant to ponder over or inquire into what is ineffable within the particular temporal context. As a result teachers and students conspire to keep the wait-time as short as possible. Such a rush to make speech can easily construct a highly competitive social milieu to praise the talker and shame the listeners. Instead of promoting quick response as a demonstration of intellectual prowess that preys on silent students, concerned educators might want to endorse silent active listening or thinking as a legitimate and essential component of learning, especially in a group setting. (p.76) This last one particularly reminds me of my discussion rubrics, where students self-evaluate listening carefully and thinking along carefully as part of the grade...

Teachers often enlist "participation" as an evaluation criterion. But, they do not recognize "silent active listening" as a legitimate form of participation. As teachers attend to students' speech making, they frequently fail to acknowledge the significance of the silent interactions between teachers and students that reveal human desires, interests, and power relationships. Consequently, although teachers are able to compel students to engage in verbal participation in classroom settings, they are unlikely to hear and listen to students' inner voices that do not meet their expectations. (p.82)