Teachers College Press 

Rethinking Classroom Participation
Listening to Silent Voices

Katherine Schultz
Foreword by Ray McDermott
Pub Date: October 2009, 192 pages

Paperback: $28.95, ISBN: 0807750174
Cloth: $58, ISBN: 0807750182
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See the author speak about this book.

Rethinking Classroom Participation is a crucial corrective on the long-standing assumption that silence signifies oppression. Schultz has written a text that dignifies the work of teaching and learning in everyday public schools and invites us to redesign our classrooms as landscapes of participation.
Michelle Fine, Graduate Center, CUNY
“Kathy Schultz shifts the figure/ground relationship between talk and silence, helping us ‘hear’ silence as a form of classroom participation. Her book offers unexpected ways to interpret teaching and learning and to foster democratic classrooms. A valuable read for teachers at every career stage, teacher educators, and students of classroom life.”
Sharon Feiman-Nemser, Brandeis University

“Schultz transforms the silences of children into opportunities for teachers and students to talk with each other. The struggle of classroom management is not to keep children quiet, nor to get a few of them to contribute at the right time, but to hear and to nurture what is on everyone's mind.”
—From the Foreword by Ray McDermott, Stanford University

Many educators understand how to gauge learning by paying close attention to student talk. Few know how to interpret and attend to student silence as a form of participation. In her new book, Katherine Schultz examines the complex role student silence can play in teaching and learning. Urging teachers to listen to student silence in new ways, this book offers real-life examples and proven strategies for “rethinking classroom participation” to include all students—those eager to raise their hands to speak and those who may pause or answer in different ways. Essential reading for all teachers, this book:

  • Redefines participation to include multimodal responses and engaged silence.
  • Explores how teachers might shift classroom discourse, structures, and assessment measures to reach all students.
  • Examines how silence can carry multiple meanings, including resistance, boredom, thoughtfulness, or strategic timing.
  • Looks at individual and group silence in the contexts of the classroom and school as well as larger sociocultural patterns.

Katherine Schultz is associate professor of education at the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. Her books include Listening: A Framework for Teaching Across Differences and School’s Out!: Bridging Out-of-School Literacies with Classroom Practice (edited with Glynda Hull).

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