Silent and invisible students: The importance of listening to the silence and seeing the invisible

(1) * Eva Alerby Mail (Luleå University of Technology, Sweden)
(2) Jill Brown Mail (Monash University, Australia)
*corresponding author

Abstract


In the fairytale, ‘The Invisible Child’, by the Finnish author Tove Jansson, the child Ninny was made silent and invisible as a result of her ill-treatment by the woman responsible for her care. A similar situation to that in the fairytale can be found in schools and other education settings where students are made both silent and invisible by their treatment by teachers and fellow classmates. The overall aim of this discussion is to explore the complexities of silence and invisibility, with a specific emphasis on silence and invisibility among students in school. The paper embraces consideration of the multifaceted phenomena of silence and invisibility, both within and beyond school. Silence, invisibility and power in society as well as in schools is discussed, with a specific focus on silence and oppression as crucial dimensions of bullying in schools, followed by an exploration of teachers use of silence. The discussion focuses attention on the silent language of response and silent and invisible students. The various ways of understanding and responding to student silence and invisibility are then explored. In conclusion the significance of silence and invisibility is discussed and the implications of this for education are considered and an argument is made for the importance of listening to the silence and seeing the invisible, as a prerequisite for making the invisible visible. Throughout the paper, the discussion is connected to, and exemplified by, the fairytale of Tove Jansson.


   

DOI

https://doi.org/10.31763/jsse.v1i1.2
      

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