A few weeks ago or so, the GSA (Gender and Sexuality Alliance; formerly GBSA) club at my school held a day of silence to highlight the experience of being silenced, and to show support for gay, transgendered, and questioning students. Students who wanted to participate could wear a sticker saying they were participating, and for those teens who couldn’t keep their mouths shut, there was even a sticker for “vocal supporters!”
It was great. I had a few students come to the front of the classroom and write their ideas on the whiteboard, and I made an effort to keet everyone engaged.
It made me think that next year, I would plan a class where I wouldn’t talk at all. Some classes naturally lend themselves to have the teacher fade into the background: group work/investigative activity, student presentations, etc. But I was thinking: what an interesting exercise to think what a class would look like if I was teaching something routine (e.g. logarithms, completing the square) but I couldn’t speak. Can one teach as effectively without a voice? How important is our voice to the teaching process? What are alternatives to talking? What other means of communication do we use without knowing it?
No good ideas yet, but I’ll keep on thinking. Just a gedanken experiment (thought experiment). Could be fun for a us to all try this out on the same day next year. You know, as a lark. It’s not like we have anything better to do with our time other than baffle our students with even more nonsensical actions.