Silent Pedagogy and Rethinking Classroom Practice: Structuring Teaching through Silence rather than Talk

Jun. 25, 2008

Source: Cambridge Journal of Education. Volume 38, Issue 2. Jun 2008.; p. 265

Classroom observations are an important source of information about teaching and about the practice of particular teachers. The article considers the value placed on talk as opposed to silence in this context and suggests that a cultural bias towards talk means that silence is commonly perceived negatively.

The article is based on a qualitative research study involving interviews with 25 teacher participants. These participants identify different types of silence and report how they use various silences in the classroom, suggesting that many different types of silence may be used productively in teaching and learning.
The article provides examples of questions that might be asked when observing teachers' uses of silence rather than talk.
It concludes by proposing that classroom observations should take into account the complex skills of 'silent pedagogy' where the teacher makes conscious decisions to abstain from intervention based on continuous sensitive readings of the learning environment.

Updated: Nov. 03, 2008