Comfortable Silence

About a decade ago a friend paid me a compliment – though I’m not sure she meant it the way I took it.

“You’re really comfortable with silence.”

She happened to be around the choir room as I was teaching a music theory lesson; I had asked a question and let the silence hang for a long time, with no hints or prompts, as the student sorted out the answer.

I think we as teachers humans are often afraid of silence. An experiment: watch someone ask a question, then count how many seconds go by before they add a hint, follow-up, or even the answer!

If you can get comfortable with the silence, you can help your students struggle into understanding. If you break the silence, you’re just telling them stuff.

We struggle in silence; that’s also the way we learn best.