Commentary

The Morning 'Minute of Silence': The View From the Front of the Room

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We begin again. Fifteen seconds later the loudspeaker squawks, "Bus 452 is late. Please admit the students to class."

We begin again. Eight seconds later Susan appears at the door mumbling, "The bus was late." Since I saw her getting out of a car this morning when I arrived, I ask her to see me before she leaves class.

We begin again. David and Chris are whispering. I ignore it. I want to get this "minute" over with. Thirty seconds later Lisa jumps out of her seat shouting, "Get away!" Other students start swatting at a bee. I turn off the lights and hope it flies out the window soon.

We begin again. Three students are frantically trying to complete their homework. Four others are reading. At least they are quiet. This time we are treated to a round of sneezes and coughs, which are also ignored, thereby completing the obligatory "minute of silence."

With 35 minutes of the period remaining, we begin our lesson. I look forward to second period, when class begins on time and in a relaxed and calm manner.

The problem is that the "minute of silence" would be neither a minute, nor of much silence. Instead, it would begin the day in tension and hypocrisy. As a teacher, I have often used a minute of silence to good effect--but at an appropriate time and not at a bureaucratically imposed 8 A.M.

Vol. 02, Issue 15, Page 16

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