Thursday, November 4, 2021


            During my 45 years as a classroom teacher of teens, I occasionally remembered to use silence to bring some intensity to the atmosphere in my classroom. I’ve always felt that, in teaching, as in life, silence has at least as much power as sound, and sometimes considerably more. Since my students heard teachers and each other talking almost nonstop throughout the day, any moment of silence could be a refreshing, almost shocking, break in the routine. In the students’ noisy world, a little silence could have been like sunshine after hours of rain. Sometimes, I would read a poem aloud to a 9th grade class, and when I came to the end I simply stood in silence at the front of the room. I remained silent for only about twenty seconds, but I suspect it had a surprising effect on the kids. In their often raucous lives, twenty seconds of silence could seem like time without end. As they were sitting silently and listening to the ticking of my classroom clock, they might have been thinking, “This is really strange”, and I was okay with that. After all, ‘strange’ can also mean surprising, extraordinary, even astonishing—three adjectives any teacher would be proud to be associated with.

And here are some photos from our recent walks …

And here’s a poem about a beloved pet of long ago …


The old cat purring beside me 
is a miracle this season, 
this year, 
this century. 
He's a black shadow of greatness, 
a gift of silence, 
a friend who found me years ago, 
and finds me every morning once again. 
He's the happiness of darkness 
beside me on the sofa. 
He's full of things of night, 
of stars and songs 
and morning always coming. 
Brutus the Best he is, 
and Brutus the Quietest, 
his soft paws resting 
in prayer 
beside me.

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