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Eva Alerby
Eva Alerby View original picture , opens in new tab/window

Make room for silence

Published: 4 October 2016

Quiet environments are increasingly in demand in today's schools, while the spoken word is valued higher than quiet reflection in the national curriculum. A paradox in line with an increasingly extroverted contemporay time.

- In today's society you should be seen and heard otherwise you don't exist. This has in turn created a need for quiet places that encourage thought and reflection, says Eva Alerby, professor at Luleå University of Technology, in her lecture on the European Day of Languages.

Talk is golden, silence is silver

Silence is not only rare in the contemporary school environment, it is also measured lower than the spoken word.

- If you look at the school's governing documents they say that students should be able to express themselves orally and in writing. They should be able to communicate their knowledge and opinions. This is also in the grading criteria and this is something that we as teachers base our assessment on, says Eva Alerby which, however, mean that teachers have much to gain by the use of silence as a pedagogical strategy.

- Studies show that teachers are wait for an average of 0.9 seconds after a question is asked before they fill in with an answer or a supplementary question. But research shows that if teachers increases the wait time it benefits students reflective questions and answers. Even students who do not have it as easy for themselves increase their response rate with this technique. So you have a lot to gain by letting it be quiet for a while.

Eva Alerbys lecture "A silent message is also a message" - reflections on silence that language "was part of the lecture series on the theme of languages organized at Luleå University of Technology during the European Day of Languages on 26 September.