The Path to Silence

A teacher came into an unruly class. “It will be difficult to get them to be quiet”, he thought to himself. Then he imagined that all pupils were small atoms caught up in a turbulent vibration. He brought himself into the same vibration, fidgeted a little bit with the arms, swayed from one leg to the other, and murmured something to himself. When he reached the same vibration as his pupils, he gradually became slower and quieter. The class also became calmer and quieter. He had to be careful not to calm himself too quickly – better to fidget for one moment more, and then become quiet again. He needed about three minutes. Then the class was completely still.

Later the same day, these same pupils were loud again. “Don’t be so loud!”, he shouted. And they remained loud. “We can’t work like this”, he yelled. “Please work without noise on your task!”, he called. And they remained loud. “Mark, be quiet! Julia, close your mouth! John, be still! Frank, quiet!”, he ordered. Then they became quieter. “Even quieter!”, he murmured, and it became even quieter. “I’m listening to ascertain where it is the quietest”, he whispered. “Whoever is quiet the fastest and stays quiet the longest, has won”, he whispered. And it became very quiet. “Absolute silence”, he breathed. Not a sound was to be heard. “Stay exactly like this”, he said, and continued with the lesson.

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