“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)

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2 thoughts on “Classroom Dynamics

  1. Professor, I found the latest post to be very interesting considering our own class. It rings true…Silence does govern the class and there is a certain amount of pressure that one most overcome to speak. The eyes of peers glare down upon you, teasing you, confronting you, rejecting you…A student’s last word opens the door for the rebuttle of the all-mighty and righteous professor, only present to make a fool of you. While this situation lacks accurate reality, it is what students feel and what keeps our thoughts boxed in. It takes the strong, self-motivated students to come and overtake the silence. The hard thing is, that they are far and few between. Crazy times….

  2. plus, most of the time we don’t really want to be in the class, and any more comments we say only make the chance of class lasting longer even more plausible.

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