"Sounds noisy in there," said the teacher that occupies the classroom next door as I opened the door to ask her something. I couldn't help but take it as a derogatory statement. The way she said it made it sound like there was something wrong with the noise. She could have just as well said, "Wow, you should do something about your classroom. That's not what a classroom is supposed to be like."
And in a way, I agree with her. I get a little nervous when there is noise. All the teachers I had growing up wanted silent classrooms. Most of the teacher's I've observed valued quiet. So I should too...
This week we have been making silent films based on a novel we read. The students are working in groups of five to act out the big moments. They were making costumes, debating how they should portray a certain scene, and generally moving around the room. The book we read includes a dog race. So...they were practicing their dog racing.
Yes, there was noise--because collaboration sometimes requires talking. I wonder where this idea of a quiet classroom equating learning came from? Is quiet a requirement for learning?
I know some students, if not most, greatly benefit from silence when they are trying to focus. Sounds and movement distract them. But it seems like they can also learn where there is noise and movement. Is it a different kind of learning? When I watch their scene preparation, I see them converting words on a page to actions that are meant to be understood by others. They are exchanging and building on ideas. They are learning how to share their vision for this project with their peers, then how to agree on a course and keep it.
The learning is there, it just feels like "lesser" learning. Things that don't really need to be practiced as much. Maybe it's because we don't test for those skills.