Silence in the Classroom Can Be Golden

Page No.: 
JA Kusaka, University of Tokyo


In this study I reevaluate silence in classroom discussion in Japan. I propose that a modest amount of silence, when integrated appropriately into classroom activities, is productive for both teachers and students. Silence in the class is conventionally regarded as negative. Because active academic engagement from students is absent, silence produces an awkward atmosphere; it brings a bad rhythm to the class. With the results of this study, I attempt to reverse such images. Silence in fact can help students create a good rhythm in their discussions.  It also becomes beneficial when they need time to digest what they have learnt or to organise their thoughts. A case study of my English literature seminar classes at university was done. The reevaluation of silence in the class will make a difference in our ways of designing a lesson by giving Japanese students more autonomy in classroom discussion.