Classroom Dynamics

“Any questions?” asked Howard.
The answer to this never changed. Silence. But it was an interesting breed of silence particular to upscale liberal arts colleges. It was not silent because nobody had anything to say — quite the opposite. You could feel it, Howard could feel it, millions of things to say brewing in this room, so strong sometimes that they seemed to shoot from the students telepathically and bounce off the furniture. Kids looked down at the table top, out of the window, or at Howard with great longing; some of the weaker ones blushed and pretended to take notes. But not one of them would speak. They had an intense fear of their peers. And, more than that, of Howard imself.

–from Zadie Smith, On Beauty (2005)