Is silence really violence?

Jacob Reynolds, in the latest Education Forum column for Teach Secondary magazine, takes issue with the position adopted by some protest movements that if you’re not saying anything, you’re siding with the oppressors…

Amid the protests surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement last year, there’s one element I found especially interesting – the insistence that ‘silence is violence’.

I should state from the outset that I don’t bring this up out of any antagonism I have with the BLM movement. My reason for examining it here is that I believe this phrase neatly sums up a political philosophy found across many wildly different movements, from Extinction Rebellion to anti-lockdown protestors.

It’s the idea that when it comes to big political issues, there is only one way to think and one right answer.

It follows that the quiet work of reflection is at best unnecessary, and at worst, positively dangerous. It’s an attitude that perhaps chimes with the contemporary classroom where active, even noisy participation is in vogue. Silence might be enforced in the exam hall, but teachers who enforce silent reading in class are most likely seen by their peers as quaint relics from a bygone era.

Another increasingly common refrain in the world of education is that words can be as violent as actions, be it in the context of hurtful bullying or racist speech.

However, the newer ‘silence is violence’ dogma takes things a step further, in that it’s not just what you say, but what you don’t say that can now be seen as violent…

See TeachWire for the full article.