Why do kids need to be quiet in schools?

The initial answer to this question is obviously so that students can hear their teacher and fellow students during teaching and discussion and so that students can concentrate while working.  I agree that students need to be quiet and orderly during those times so that everyone has an opportunity to learn.  What about when they line up?  What about when they walk through the hallways if there are not other classes nearby to disturb?  What about at lunch time?

I have questioned this when teachers leave first graders waiting and standing in line until everyone is quiet, which actually seems to make it more difficult for the students to be quiet the longer they stand there.  I have questioned this as I am expected to keep students quiet as I lead them through the first floor of a school at a time when all of the classes on that floor are headed to lunch or recess.  I have questioned this when I see a stop light for noise level in the lunch room (located a fair distance from classrooms) which is there to warn students when they are becoming too loud.  A friend recently told me that at her daughter’s school a new principal is now not allowing the students to talk at all during lunch and has discontinued the movies that used to be shown in the lunch room on Fridays.

Maybe as I continue to work in school I will come to understand logical reasons for these choices.  Right now, I am of the opinion that we need to be fair judges of each situation and not just assume we are doing a fabulous job because we have a roomful or hallway full or lunchroom full of quiet children.  Of course, I do not want bedlam, but these are children – social beings – just like the rest of us.  I certainly would not want to have to eat silently when lunching with my friends!

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4 thoughts on “Why do kids need to be quiet in schools?

  1. I am glad you started a conversation about this topic. It has been on my mind as well. In my main placement, as I walk the children to the playground and specialists, lunch everyday, repeatedly asking them to walk in a straight line without talking to their friends, I wonder why? I understand the reason that other classrooms are in session while my class is at break, so children need to be quiet until they reach playground. However, it is an ongoing struggle for me, as I try to find the balance between my duties as a teacher and student’s freedom to be themselves outside the class. Often times, frustrated, I have just let them walk however they wish and sometimes as you mentioned I have them wait until it’s quiet. Each time I have to be stern, I feel very guilty. I do not have the answer to solve this dilemma yet. Hopefully, I will be able to find the balance in coming weeks. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  2. This is something I am struggling with, but from the opposite side of the issue than you are. I am someone who would really like a quiet classroom. When things get too loud I start to feel that my class is out of control and I become overwhelmed. What I am constantly working on is reminding myself that what is best for me may not be best for my students. Just because having the students be quiet and orderly makes me feel more calm, is this really what is best for them? Of course there need to be a balance though. If they are engaged and learning while being very noisy and active but I am a wreck, then I am not able to be a good teacher. If I am calm and they are quiet, they may not be learning in a way that works best for them. This is not me being a good teacher in that case. I think there is a middle ground. I need to give a little on my desire for quiet but I think it is also ok for me to expect a certain level or order in the classroom.

    Great post@

  3. I know that for younger kids, being quiet in the lunch room is important for making sure kids actually eat rather than talk the whole time. At my school, they allow kids to talk for the first half of lunch, and then for the last 5 or 10 minutes they turn on “quiet music” for kids to not talk and just focus on eating.
    As for walking in a quiet, straight line, I’m not sure of the purpose of this. As we walk as a cohort through the halls, we don’t even walk in a quiet, straight line, so why would we make our students do it? My mom, who has been teaching for close to 40 years, finally decided that waiting for kindergarteners to be quiet and lined up was a waste of time. When it’s time to go, she waits for a general line to form, and then heads out. Saves more time for more learning, and saves the waiting for quiet for times when it actually matters.

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