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Listening to Silent Voices: Reframing Assumptions About Participation
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Listening to Silent Voices: Reframing Assumptions About Participation

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Listen to the silence. That instruction may sound as if it comes from a Zen master, but it also happens to be the advice Katherine Schultz gave to NWP leaders when she addressed the NWP Spring Meeting ...

Listen to the silence. That instruction may sound as if it comes from a Zen master, but it also happens to be the advice Katherine Schultz gave to NWP leaders when she addressed the NWP Spring Meeting in Washington, DC, March 25–26.

Schultz, who directs the Philadelphia Writing Project and is an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education, posited that understanding the role of silence for the individual and the class as a whole is a complex process that requires new ways of conceptualizing listening.

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    Listening to Silent Voices: Reframing Assumptions About Participation Listening to Silent Voices: Reframing Assumptions About Participation Presentation Transcript

    • Listening to silent voices: Reframing assumptions about participation
      • Kathy Schultz
      • National Writing Project Spring Meeting
      • March 2010
    •  
    •  
    • What counts as participation?
      • Definitions of participation
      • Can a student participate without making a verbal contribution?
      • What does participation through silence look like?
      • How do we recognize and respond to it?
    • PORTRAIT OF A STUDENT
      • BRIEFLY DESCRIBE SOMEONE WHO WAS SILENT IN YOUR CLASSROOM
    • Theorizing silence Every utterance has its biography and cuts its own figure, and, if we are careful enough to describe its points of contact with ongoing events, we can learn a great deal about the powers of talk that constructs, maintains, and resists the order of those events. (McDermott)
    • Teaching as fundamentally based on listening Listening: A framework for teaching across difference (Schultz, 2003)
    • Sociocultural understandings of silence
      • Silence as located in social interactions
      • Silence as situationally and contextually specific
      • Silence as produced by others and oneself
    • Functions and uses of silence in the classroom
      • Communication
      • Rules and norms
      • Choice
      • Locating silence
    • Meanings of silence
      • Silence as resistance
      • Silence as power
      • Silence as protection
      • Silence as a response to trauma
      • Silence as a space for creativity and learning
    • Silence as resistance
      • Silence as an act of refusal not to be dominated
      • Resistance as socially organized
      • Resistance as nuanced
      • “ We need to hear both the voices and silences through which women engage the social world. We need to understand not only what women say but also what they refuse to say and understand why they might refuse to speak” (Lorde)
      • Enacting a powerful stance through a careful choice of words
      • Use silence as a starting point for inquiry
      • “ There is a silence that cannot speak. There is a silence that will not speak. ” (Kogawa)
      Silence as power “ There is a silence that cannot speak. There is a silence that will not speak .” (Kogawa)
    • Silence as protection
      • Understanding the danger of talk and silence
      • Silence as a way to hide
      • Protection of intelligence, family stories from teachers & peers
      There was no “calling” for talking girls, no legitimized rewarded speech. The punishments I received for “talking back” were intended to suppress all possibility that I would create my own speech. That speech was to be suppressed so that the “right speech of womanhood” would emerge. (hooks)
    • Silence as a response to trauma
      • Youth bring a range of traumatic experiences to schools
      • Youth often find themselves without words
      • Importance of learning to read silence
      “ For me each and every word holds the unsayable—and all language requires translation.” (Rogers)
    • Silence as a time and space for learning
        • Time necessary for acquisition of new knowledge
          • e.g., learning new languages
        • Waiting for authentic reasons for speaking
        • Silence can give students control over pacing of learning
      The stupendous reality is that language cannot be understood unless we begin by observing that speech consists, above all, in silences. (Ortega y Gassett)
    • Mattie Davis: Classroom talk, classroom silences
    • The Room 110 Pledge The Room 110 Pledge I am a beautiful child. I come to school to learn. I come to school to help myself. I come to school to help my family. I come to school to help my community. I must respect myself. I must respect my classmates. I must respect my teachers. I believe that I am a brilliant child. I come from great people. I come from great ancestors. Imhotep, Nefertiti, Nat Turner, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Marcus Garvey Dr. King, Malcolm X, Fanny Lou Hammer, my parents I come from great people.
    • Classroom structures that support silence as integral to teaching and learning
      • Check-in
      • Authors’ chair
      • Chit-Chat groups
      • Reflections
    • Jerome: Authors’ chair
    •  
    • How silence can work in the classroom
      • Silence and talk structured the event
      • The student was allowed to retain authority over his text
      • Respect was communicated through the teacher’s and students’ silence and actions
      • Actions were guided by implicit and explicit rules
    • Amelia Coleman: Student silences, curricular participation
    • Buildings speak project Amelia Coleman: Student silences, curricular participation
    • Buildings speak project Amelia Coleman: Student silences, curricular participation
    • Buildings speak project Amelia Coleman: Student silences, curricular participation Multimodal stories
    •  
      • I am from chicken, fish, and rice. From fighting, jogging, and running. I am from French fries, fried chicken, and chicken nuggets. From talking, laughing, and joking. I am from trees, bushes, and flowers.
      • I am from country music, and country movies. From tag, hide and seek and freeze tag. I am from car, bus, and trucks. From winter, summer, and fall.
      Where I’m From poem
      • Hi, my name is [Saima]. I took a picture of my friend’s house because first when I came to America, I didn’t know nobody and I didn’t know how to speak English. Then I saw them, I thought they were my country’s people and I talked to them and finally became best friends. And that’s why I took the picture.
      Building speaks project
    • “ If there is hope there is life” No one can take away from me My name, For it is mine. Bengali am I. I am the river that flows Through my land. I am the mountain Royal and wonderful Rising up out of the confusion and end I greet the morning sun That shines down on my rich valleys And dries my empty waste .
    • I am the red poppy and yellow saying That grow upon my bleeding hills. I am the battle cry of freedom That repeats through my hallways And every grain of my being. Therefore, I am. No one can take my name Away from me, Not tanks or guns or bombs Meant to abuse me and kill me. My country lives in me. I am the cry of liberty No matter what they take from me, They can’t take away my name Or my dignity. Bengali am I
    • Claiming a participatory presence
      • Through the modes of image and sound, Saima’s texts became more complex and powerful.
      • She translated her quiet compliance into a louder, participatory presence through multimodal storytelling.
      • Saima attained a stronger presence, becoming a more visible member of the classroom community without the need to speak loudly and stand alone in front of the class.
    • Exploring meanings of silence in classrooms
      • Silence has a presence.
      • Students enact silence for a range of reasons. Their silence is shaped by the available models of how to be a student (Wortham, 2006)
      • Teachers add silence to classrooms and sometimes teach through silence.
      • No precise definition
      • Judged according to timing and content
      • What would it mean to count silence and talk as forms of participation in classroom settings?
    • Rethinking participation
      • Ubiquitous idea in education
      • No precise definition
      • Often judged according to timing and content
      • What would it mean to count silence and talk as forms of participation in classroom settings?
    • Taking an inquiry stance toward silence
      • How does silence work in the classroom?
      • • What is the relationship between talk and silence in this classroom? What are the varying amounts of talk and silence? How do they interact with one another? What is the relative quality of silence and of talk in the classroom?
      • What are the functions and understandings of silence in the classroom?
      • • How is silence used in the classroom by teachers and by students? In the classroom, who talks and who remains silent? When does silence occur? Are there times when it is acceptable (or even preferable) to be silent, and are there times when silence is not allowed?
      • What are some possible responses to student silences?
      • • When should teachers interrogate an individual student’s silence, and when is it important to simply support that student to participate through silence? How can teachers tell the difference between an engaged and a disengaged silence?
    • What does it mean to be a “silent” Student
      • How can you take an inquiry stance to understand silence in your classroom?
      • How
    • Final thoughts
      • Importance of using silence and talk and understanding them as connected
      • Connecting understandings and uses for silence & talk in classrooms to equity & access
      • Redefining participation
    • Thirteen ways of looking at a blackbird
      • I do not know which to prefer,
      • The beauty of inflections
      • Or the beauty of innuendoes,
      • The blackbird whistling
      • Or just after.
      • Wallace Stevens
    • Further Reading