Colleen Bierstine
Author: Colleen Bierstine


Why Silence Isn’t Golden in the Classroom

Oct 15, 2013 | Author: Colleen Bierstine
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Photo from Utica College

 

Nobody likes being forced to talk. We all despise those dreaded ice breakers and introductions we’re put through on the first day of classes. It’s a complex battle of trying to sit calmly waiting for our turn while also internally stressing over what we’re going to say.

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Source: IWasteSoMuchTime.com

But do we honestly expect to sit through an entire class in silence, never having to speak or acknowledge each others’ existence? Before I started at UC in 2011, I had a glamorized idea of what each new class would be like: everyone would be friendly and outgoing, happily introducing themselves and eager to make new friends. Now, that’s not to say there aren’t people like this, but way too many of my classes, especially larger ones, have been filled with silent, stone-faced students.

It’s strange because you’ll then spot some of those same complacent people outside of class acting loud and personable, and you’ll wonder why they shut off when they enter the classroom. I know it’s hard to be the one to raise your hand or to start up a conversation, but somebody’s got to do it. And there’s nothing more awkward than a class-full of people who refuse to speak.

Frankly, it’s uncomfortable for everyone involved. The professor asks a question, and tense silence ensues when no one responds. It’s not even that we don’t know the answer. A lot of the time, it’s a simple question, but we just don’t speak up. Why? Are we all socially awkward?

Probably not. Perhaps we don’t want to be THAT person who answers every question, or most of the time, we’re afraid of sounding foolish. Even the smartest people are susceptible to screwing up an answer to an easy question. But if no one talks at all, not just when it comes to answering questions but participating in discussions as well, then class is 10 times more awkward and a thousand times more boring than it needs to be.

We all just need to loosen up a bit. No one’s going to judge you if you laugh at the professors’ jokes, or at the very least, crack a smile for once (some professors are quite amusing at times). Plus, you’ll make the professor feel better, and the rest of the class might feel at ease about letting their guard down too. Not to mention, professors love students who choose to participate. So why not take an easy opportunity for getting on their good side and maybe boosting your grade?

I don’t know about you, but I won’t tolerate the second half of the semester being so cold (and I don’t mean temperature-wise). I know it’s easy to think everyone’s judging you, but they really couldn’t care less. So raise your hand once in a while, say “hi” to that kid next to you, and crack a smile at your professor’s attempt at hilarity (whether or not they’re successful).

 

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