Monday, March 18, 2019

Effective Pauses in Teaching? Silence in the classroom

Pauses and silence in teaching to sustain reflective moments and thoughtful exchanges have always been part of my teaching in seminaries. Such moments seem to happen as a result of establishing respect for questions and dialogue. They won't happen if the class is not a safe space. When they happen is hard to predict.

A recent article by Steve Barclay, Education Consultant, makes the point that a pause after asking a question in the classroom before inviting students to respond seems to encourage reflection and deeper thought. A three second pause allows students to gather thoughts into speech. A five second pause after a response:

"allows the teacher to communicate that the student’s answer is important and she is taking time to consider it. Frequently during this pause a student may add to or change an answer now that he has heard it."

Research cited in the article indicates that:

  • Length of student responses increased 300%-500%
  • More inferences were supported by evidence
  • Incidences of speculative thinking increased
  • Number of questions asked and experiments proposed by students increased
  • Students to student exchanges increased
  • Failure of students to respond decreased
  • Disciplinary moves decreased as engagement increased
  • Variety of students participating voluntarily increased as did the number of unsolicited responses
  • Student confidence, as measured by fewer inflected responses, increased
  • Achievement improved on written measures of cognitive complexity
Charley Wesley's 2013 article in the CHE commends the sanctioning of silence in classrooms by pointing out its connotations:

"Silence in teaching has multiple meanings. It is both an opportunity for thought and a force that can bring the classroom to a grinding halt. It is a complex and interesting phenomenon that, properly managed, can enrich our classrooms."
This is exactly the same point made by Jane Brox in her recent book Silence: oppressive in once context (a prison) and liberating in others (a monastery).
Wesley observes that acknowledging and working through silence in classrooms at the beginning of a semester "is a strategy that helps to normalize its discomforting and sometimes stifling presence."

Friday, March 01, 2019

Spring class in Belfast Maine starting March 28th The Miriamic Procession


The Miriamic Procession


  • Thursday Afternoons Starting March 28th
  • 1:00 – 3:00 pm
  • Senior College at Belfast
  • University of ME Hutchinson Center
  • 80 Belmont Ave.
  • Belfast, ME 04915
  • info@belfastseniorcollege.org
Through examining some selected literary excerpts, this course will explore the evolution of Miriam/Mary/Maryam from ordinary woman to “chosen…above all women of creation.” The Miriamic tradition or procession is both auditory and visual. The sound starts with an unnamed sister raising a brother and moves to the glorious song of Miriam who sings the “Song of the Sea,” celebrating Israel’s deliverance from the powerful Egyptians with music and dance. Some scholars have suggested that Miriam was connected to a philosopher role, and the notion that she communicated with God is advanced through other texts from the Hebrew Bible.
The Miriamic procession continues in the New Testament from Mary, mother in the birth stories, through women disciples in Jesus’ ministry, to the women, especially Mary Magdalen at the empty tomb and at the resurrection. In the Ethiopian Christian Canon, the Weddase Mariam, consisting of seven prayers, one for each day of the week, is appended to the Psalter, and thus has almost canonical status.
Mary, the mother of Jesus, holds a singular exalted place in the Islam liturgy as well, as the only woman named in the Qu’ran, which refers to her seventy times, more often than in the New Testament, and especially identifies her as the greatest of all women.
Dr. Deirdre Good received her Doctor of Theology from the Harvard School of Divinity in 1983 and holds several other advanced degrees from seminaries and other universities.

Podcast Interview with Prof Katie Day hosted by Prof James McGrath

Prof James McGrath of Butler University was kind enough to invite Prof Katie Day and myself to join him in a recent podcast on our co-ed...