Friday, December 2, 2011

Silence

Silence is Golden, so they say. But for the children that have no voice I imagine silence is anything but golden. On Wednesday my Grade Eight class and I vowed to be silent. To give our voice to the children who have no voice. For the children that are kidnapped and trained to be soldiers. For the children who live in war ravaged countries and have no say in the political regimes that keep them there in the absence of peace.

So, we were silent. At 8am students started to filter into the classroom. Into my candle lit, advent classroom. We shook hands in greeting as we always do in the morning, but no words were exchanged. It was peaceful. Our eyes truly meeting each other. No words were needed. We were here. Together. And we were safe in each other's company.

We started the morning by playing four Christmas songs in four part harmony on our recorders. It was stunningly simple and stunningly beautiful.

Then the class settled into their main lesson work, their geography work. This project entailed bringing with them a list of 10 or 15 items they use, eat, or wear daily and where they were from. They were assigned to make a world map, and to place little flags on the map where their objects came from. As the silence grew, the map filled. We are in economic brotherhood with Cambodia, Bangladesh, Africa, Australia, Europe, Mexico, China, Japan, Montreal....well, you get the idea. All these people in the world that grow, cultivate, sew, manufacture things for us to use. It is mind boggling. And we never get to say thank you. Our appreciation is silent.

This class of 12 students worked silently until 10am, when we had to get into the school bus, or cars to head to a rehearsal. This too, was all done in silence. We were rehearsing Snow White and the Seven Dwarves which will be performed at the Kay Meek Performance Hall on December 13. We are performing this with the Cascadia residents who are handicapped adults. We rehearsed in silence. They were so patient and gracious with these adults who have such struggles and yet are so profoundly happy and peaceful, and, for the most part, silent.

Then back to school for lunch. Silence. Then they went off to their afternoon classes. Silence. It was powerful. And it was hard. There were a few times I started to speak - to greet someone, to make a suggestion, to answer a question. But I persisted - right up to bedtime. I got alot done on the silent day. Talking takes up alot of time. Without talking I had time to get to a myriad of 'things' on my to-do list.

We raised 150.00 for Free the Children. I donated 10 dollars for every student in my class, and a parent matched her child's donation - and, of course 10.00 for me. So, that was good. It felt good to be less selfish, less "me", more reflective, quieter. We all commented the next day on how much we got done! How comforting the silence was.

Silence is Golden. My class is Golden. It was a Golden memory of this, my last year, of teaching this grade eight class.

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