Silence, Well-being and Learning

(1) * Alan Maley Mail (Independent Scholar and Writer, United Kingdom)
*corresponding author


I am approaching this article from the viewpoint of an ordinary human being, condemned to live in the 21st century – and of a language teaching practitioner.   I have no pretensions to academic scholarship, nor to research into silence, so this will be a purely personal view.

I will first examine the negative effects that loss of silence has had on us as individuals and society.  I will then suggest some ways in which we can palliate these effects in our individual lives.  Finally, I will discuss the value of silence in learning (with a focus on language learning) and suggest some ways we might incorporate positive aspects of silence in our teaching.



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Some Books on Silence and Solitude and Living

Sarah Bakewell (2011) How to Live: A Life of Montaigne in One question and Twenty Answers. Vintage.

Susan Cain. (2012) Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that can’t stop Talking. Viking/Penguin.

Michael Harris. (2017) Solitude: The pursuit of a Singular Life in a Crowded World. Random House.

Sara Maitland (2014) How to be Alone. Macmillan.

Anthony Storr. (1989) Solitude. Flamingo.

Sherry Turkle. (2011) Alone Together: Why we expect More from technology and Less from each other. Basic Books.

Accounts of Experiencing Isolation.

Simon Armitage. (2012) Walking Home. Faber and Faber.

Daniel Defoe. (2003) Robinson Crusoe. Penguin Classics.

Anthony Grey. (2003) Hostage in Peking. Tagman Books.

Julian of Norwich. (2015) Revelations of Divine Love. Oxford World Classics.

Alice Koller. (1991) The Stations of Solitude. Bantam.

Vicki Mackenzie. (1999) Cave in the Snow. Bloomsbury

Sara Maitland. (2008) A Book of Silence. Granta.

Thomas Merton. (1993) Thoughts in Solitude. Shambhala.

Nan Shephard. (2011) The Living Mountain. Canongate.

Henry David Thoreau. (2017) Walden: Or a Life in the Woods. Collins Classics.

Some Books on Mindfulness, Concentration and Slowing down.

Campbell, D. (1990) The Roar of Silence: Healing Powers of Breath, Tone and Music. Theosophical Publishing House.

Campbell, D. (2001) The Mozart Effect. Quill.

James Gleick. (1999) Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything. Vintage Books.

Thich Nhat Hanh. (2008) The Miracle of Mindfulness. Rider.

Claudia Hammond.(2019) The Art of Rest: How to Find Respite in the Modern Age. Canongate.

Carl Honore. (2005) In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed. Harper Collins.

Will Johnson. (1996) The Posture of Meditation. Shambhala.

Jon Kabat-Zinn. (1994) Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation for Everyday Life. Piatkus.

Daniel Kahnemann. (2011) Thinking, fast and slow. Allen Lane

Diana St Ruth (1996) Experience Beyond Thinking. Buddhist Publishing Group

Rupert Sheldrake. (1998) Hare Brain: Tortoise Mind. Fourth Estate.

Alan Wallace. The Attention Revolution: Unlocking the Power of the Focussed Mind. Wisdom Pubs.

Paul Wilson. (1995) Instant Calm. Penguin.

Three Books on Reading.

Robert Darnton (2009) The Case for Books. Public Affairs

Alan Jacobs (2009) The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction. Oxford University Press.

Alberto Manguel. (2011) A Reader on Reading. Yale University Press.

And Two Books on Writing.

With strong links to concentration, focussed attention, silence and being alone as you write. Full of wise advice.

Nathalie Goldberg.(1986) Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within. Shambhala.

Anne Lamott. (1994) Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. Pantheon Books.

Some Books on Language Teaching.

Stephen Krashen (2004) The Power of Reading. Heinemann (Portsmouth NH)

Paul Davis and Mario Rinvolucri. (1989) Dictation. Cambridge University Press.

Jane Spiro. (2004) Creative Poetry Writing. Oxford University Press.

Earl Stevick. (1980) Teaching Languages: A Way and Ways. Longman ELT

Michael West (1960) Teaching English in Difficult Circumstances. Longman.


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Journal of Silence Studies in Education

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