Silence is not golden

24th March 2006 at 00:00
Q: Should I be asking my classes to work in silence? My head of department said when I arrived that she always has silent classes, but I don't. Am I wrong?

A: There are times when you want silence from your classes: when they're listening to instructions, when you're taking register, or when you want them to do individual reading or writing, for example. What's more, the silent class sends strong messages to management about your class control, which might do your image no harm. However, there has to be a place for the kind of useful talk that lies at the heart of effective learning. If the pupils in the silent class never have opportunities to use talk to explore, to discuss, to argue cases, or to collaborate with one another, then they're being deprived of a powerful tool, and one that has been a major part of every curriculum initiative for the past 20 years. You're not wrong: keep your pupils talking.

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