Ollin, Ros (2009) “The silence we create marks out the excellent teacher”: a pedagogy of silence in the formal learning environment. In: The European Conference on Educational Research (ECER) 2009, 25-26 September 2009, Vienna, Austria. (Unpublished)

Across Europe teachers are subject to inspections carried out by nationally-appointed bodies or to the regional authorities responsible for education. In addition, many institutions carry out internal inspections to assure quality and to prepare themselves for external scrutiny. These inspections include assessment of the quality of teaching and learning. This paper suggests that in classroom observations of teachers, notions of ‘good ‘teaching’ are predicated on skills which can be measured and observed. Hence talk and overt activity are favoured over subtle pedagogical processes in which the teacher makes complex decisions on how best to enable students to learn. Traditional views construct teaching as performance, where the teacher dominates the classroom space through talk and control of classroom activities. But what other views are possible? This research asks the question: how might notions of ‘good’ teaching be constructed if viewed through the prism of different types of silence in the classroom? In this situation, decisions made to abstain from intervention might be as much an indicator of a teacher’s skill as more overt behaviours and may illustrate ways in which ‘restrained teaching’ behaviours, central to the notion of Didaktik (Hopmann, 2007), might work in practice. The notion of figured worlds (Holland et al, 1998) is used as a theoretical framework to explore how dominant cultural resources on pedagogical skills are used to mediate ways that teaching and learning are defined and understood by participants. The worlds in which people are located have no independent reality, but are figured, shaped through cultural practices and individual perceptions. Academic writings on silence in teaching have tended to focus on one type of silence i.e. the silence of not speaking. However, silence is ‘a communicative resource whose manifestations go well beyond the mere absence of speech’ (Jaworski, 1997, p.382).This paper considers a number of types of silence drawn from different disciplines and reflecting different modalities

Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email