An Overwhelming Silence at ASK, But Why?

October 21, 2021


Something that stands out at the ASK Academy is the amount of silence during class discussions. From Math to English, a majority of students do not participate in class discussions, why? Communications between scholars at ASK and teachers during class conversations varies greatly for a variety of reasons. 

Research by Zierold, K.M, and McGeeney found a connection between self blame and supervisors at a teen’s work place. Many teens blamed themselves for accidents that happened while on the job, even when it was the supervisor’s fault. It can be argued that the connection of authority and responsibility exists between scholars and teachers. Teachers are an authority figure; scholars may or may not speak because they are simply afraid of the teacher or do not want to be wrong as many adults speculate.

Trust is another engagement factor with teens. It is possible ASK Scholars do not trust project managers with keeping their past mistakes to themselves. In addition, students likely speak when they have a prize or reward to gain. Occasionally teachers will hand out candy for successfully answering a question or extra credit if they participate. 

Based upon scholar interviews at the ASK Academy, there are varying reasons scholars do not speak out in class. Micah Onyango stated that, “I usually don’t want to offend other people with what I say, so I don’t speak too much or too often.” Another reason is because they are not interested in the subject or they do not like the spotlight on them. Another scholar, Bastian Worker, spoke on this, “I’ll usually speak first but hand it off to someone else quickly so I don’t have the spotlight all on me.” So, if we want to fix the issue of silence in our class discussion we need to trade the attention between scholars equally, find a way to not offend other scholars, and make the overall trust between project managers and scholars more apparent.

Written by James Butler, September 19, 2021, ASK Academy.

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