During a recent conversation about Charlotte Mason and education, someone described a class they had seen where classical music was played, but where the teacher continued to talk, describe, and generally interrupt so that nobody could hear or pay attention to the music.
Ann Voskamp has often talked about silences, listening. Most of us now do not come from a culture of nurturing silence or of careful, deliberate listening. Silence is not natural or comfortable for most of us, any more than total darkness is natural or comfortable for those of us who live in cities and always, even in the middle of the night, have some light around us somewhere.
But that doesn't mean silence is bad; we just have to work harder at listening. And at letting others learn to listen. And look, too.
Do our lives and our children's lives include enough of these? Looking at pictures, without interruption. Listening to music. Listening to beautiful words, without too much explanation. Looking at and listening to large and small things outdoors, without chatter about other concerns. Looking at darkness (and at whatever stars appear while we look). Listening to others' prayers.
Listening to silence.
Ours is not a culture where silence, or even quiet, is "normal". We're constantly bombarded with radio, television, toys with sounds built in (whatever happened to using the imagination ?), chatter, and more ... it's everywhere. I call it "Sound Pollution" personally.
I think the Cherubs and I may use this as a leap pad today for our discussion ... I am wondering if they even notice the "Sound Pollution", other than when I point it out to them ? HA !
This is a very good reminder, thank you.
The other day my Dad remembered being in the waiting room of the dentist when he was a kid. He recalls the sound of the clock ticking across the room. I had this instant mental picture - and realized I couldn't recall the last time I was somewhere so quiet I heard a clock ticking (well, if there was a non-digital clock there :-). It made me think of the shock when the power goes out, even if it's a quiet time. There are so many 'hums' in our lives.
LOVE this. I was just reading in vol.1 today about kids needing time to grow...
"...for of the evils of modern education few are worse than this- that the perpetual cackle of his elders leaves the poor child not a moment of time, nor an inch of space, wherein to wonder - and grow."
I think the same applies to quiet. But I just love her choice of word... cackle. That is PERFECTLY hilarious, perfectly fitting description of worthless words that they just tune out anyway! :)
Thanks for sharing this for the CM blog carnival, I can't wait to share it with everyone! ;)
amy in peru
Thank you for this, it is a good reminder and an ever-present challenge for our schools and lives. Psalm 46:10 comes to mind, of course...
Thank you for making me ask the questions of myself.
Great point. CM wanted kids to observe directly, THEMSELVES. They don't need an adult to tell them how to see or hear.
I am glad to see this put into words. I used to take the older 2 children to our MSO's student performances. While the conductor would not talk over the music, in between, he went on and on about it. It sort of lost its fun to us - because we would rather just hear it. It did not mean I might not say something about it at a later date, but I wanted their full attention on the music when we were listening - not just listening for the parts that the conductor said was important. Does that make sense?
Oh my! Talk about convicting your Spirit! I am always so busy thinking about my to do list that I never take a moment! I'm putting this on our list for the new school year!
In general, shouldn't students be studying it and paying attention to it outside of the teacher's time in class? The teachers job is to develop the prior knowledge of the students by teaching about the form and ideas of the music. This cannot be done by using the time to simply listen to it. Silence has its place, but not perhaps in the classroom.
Justin: A fair enough question. The specific situation described may have involved a fairly young age group who would not be likely to go home and search out a concerto or whatever for themselves; I'm not sure, I wasn't there. But even in a group situation (rather than an individual being homeschooled), aren't there times when it's more important for the participants just to look or listen to the text/music/sounds of the forest, and then respond to what they have seen or heard, rather than only be able to hear what the teacher says about it? I think that was the original objection.
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