We’re reading The Chosen right now in one of my classes, and one boy, Danny, has a father who speaks to him “in silence.” The students enjoy grappling with this idea and trying to determine what has to happen when speaking without words. The mind really has to stretch. Empathizing is necessary. New ways of communicating must occur.
Thus, I take my students into the hallway and have them remain silent. Then I instruct them to line up from shortest to tallest without speaking. Mouthing words is not allowed. Neither is writing. This usually doesn’t take too long.
However, I then have them line up from youngest to oldest. This takes a little longer.
Lastly, I have the kids line up (in silence still) from who was born closest to the school to farthest from the school. This takes a little while.
After they complete this task, we return to the room and discuss how they felt during the exercise, how they communicated, and how they had to stretch their ways of thinking to accomplish the tasks. They quickly realize that communicating in silence really means stretching the mind and broadening their means of communicating. They must feel what their peers feel, and they must discover multiple means of sharing information. They stretch and they grow–just like the character Danny in The Chosen.