How often do you find yourself in silence? Ever? Do you remember periods of silence as a kid? Silence in my life today is hard to come by. Truly, it must be time carved out of my day and rarely do I think to do this.
Recently though, I was with a group of educators and we spoke about silence in the classroom. One educator explained how one of her own elementary teachers planned five minutes of silence into the daily schedule: just before recess. As a young girl she said she relished this time.
What we do with silence when it is given to us or forced upon us becomes our own. I don’t know the thoughts of others during silence; they don’t know mine. For some it might be prayer, for others goal setting, for others a running to-do list. But I wonder how our thoughts and mood (or the thoughts and mood of our students) might change during silence if we began to experience it on a regular basis.
If I had a classroom of my own these days, I would carve 5 minutes of silence into every day. I would dialogue about it with the students first. Perhaps even present it as an experiment. Would those 5 minutes change us? How? Would we become more calm? Better able to deal with anxiety? Would it become time for prayer? Would it become a habit we look forward to in our day? Or would it simply be a waste of time?
Our society is so filled with stimulation: games, television, advertising, devices, advertising on our devices. Can we shut out the noise, stop the distractions, and simply be? I am going to try 5 minutes of daily silence myself this week. I’ll keep you posted…
One day last week I felt like Alexander in Judith Viorst’s book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. It started first thing in the morning and continued through to evening. Nothing major happened. Nothing tragic. Just one little annoyance and frustration after another. As did Alexander, by the end of the day, I felt like moving to Australia.
Later in the week we had to deliver news to several staff members that we won’t have positions for them next year. It is certainly the least favourite part of my job: telling good people, people who do good work, that we don’t have jobs for them. I am optimistic that they will get something for next year, but the reality is, they now begin the waiting game.
So in contrast then, my day as Alexander was insignificant. There are bigger worries and bigger frustrations than the ones I encountered. No need to move to Australia. I’m good right where I am.
Last week, while working with a small group of students, a little boy had a tantrum because he did not get his way. It was shortly after I had said, “We will be reading this again, so if we don’t get our first choice of characters, there is no reason to get upset.” Evidently, my words didn’t register. The tears and the tantrum began as soon as another boy chose the role he wanted. His tantrum sparked the other student to offer him the role as ‘the wolf’ but I held my ground.
Every day, we are faced with situations where we do not get our way: disappointments, frustrations and curveballs. Tantrums and tears rarely improve the situation.
Recently I came across a quote by Annette Funicello: “Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.” In fact, disappointments, frustrations and curveballs sometimes lead to new discoveries or the uncovering of hidden talents. And often, it is in the face of adversity, that the kindness and compassion of others is revealed.
Life is wonderful. There are reminders all around us: the tiny feet of a newborn babe, the warm sunshine, the memories of a recent holiday, the genuine kindness of family and friends. Annette Funicello was right: there is no need for perfection.
P.S. The little boy did get to play the role of the wolf… the second read through.