The OF Blog: "Do not speak unless you can improve the silence"

Thursday, February 17, 2011

"Do not speak unless you can improve the silence"

Each school day, my students are required to spend upwards of thirty minutes writing daily journals in response to quotes and questions that I write on the markerboard.  Above is the quote I used for Wednesday's journal topic.  Despite some students thinking I was posting it because I disciplined a couple for excessive talking, this topic came about due to curiosity about how some students handle silence. 

Silence is something that is usually disdained until one has great need for me.  I am one of those people who needs a lot of conversation in order to function socially, but I also need quiet solitude in order to order and to compose my thoughts.  For the past few days, I have been mostly silent at this blog.  It's not because of anything "bad," per se, but rather because I just could not improve the silence.  I haven't had the time/energy to write the reviews I had planned for this week (or rather, I've written one piece that's nearly 2000 words, but that is being posted elsewhere).  Rather than half-ass it, like some might do in my situation, I decided to wait a bit.

Luckily, tomorrow begins a four day mini-vacation for me, as my students are out of school through Tuesday and I'm (mostly) caught up with all of my paperwork in advance of a quarterly evaluation from DCS next month.  I have not been idle during the interim, however.  I have found myself reading more and more non-fictions than I have in recent years.  I finished reading Justin Halpern's pithy Shit My Dad Says and found myself reflecting upon some of the shrewd evaluations contained within those short, acerbic observations made by Halpern's retired father.  I am also reading Rousseau's Confessions and have begun a cover-to-cover reading of the King James version of the Bible for the first time since my pre-adolescence. 

Through all of this re-reading and re-evaluating, I find myself thinking more than in recent years.  Yet such thoughts have required silence in order for them to coalesce and to ferment.  Hopefully, in the near future there will be something to present from this, as I would be curious to see if my reading (re)education might reveal some insights as I approach the beginning of middle age in a few years.  But when silence is broken, conversations become valued.  I wonder what readers here might have to say in terms of silence and conversations of any sort.  Care to share?

1 comment:

tim said...

All I can think of when it comes to silence (or the creative power of silence) is Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus and it's simple, incredible final pronouncement: "Where of one cannot speak, there one must remain silent."

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