Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Sing to the Power: A Social Justice Program for Children Grades 4-5

Taking It Home: The Power of Silence

Let us be silent, that we may hear the whispers of the gods. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

IN TODAY'S SESSION... the children heard about Gordon Hempton's One Square Inch of Silence campaign to preserve spaces in which the only sounds are the sounds of nature. We toured our surroundings, listening for every sound we could hear, and categorized sounds as mechanical/electronic, human, or non-human. We talked about how the sounds around us affect us. We tested our familiarity with the sounds of nature by trying to identify particular sounds. We practiced creating our own square inch of silence, in a meditation.

EXPLORE THE TOPIC TOGETHER. What kind of ambient noise is there typically in your household? Do children do homework with music, television or videos playing? Do you generally have music, television, or videos playing during meals, or when people are simply relaxing together? Do you have times when you silence as much background noise as possible? If so, when and why?

What kinds of noise come into your home from outside? Which are sounds of nature? Which are sounds of technology, or other human activity? Choose a time when your chances are good, and work together to consciously create silence in your home. Then discuss how it went.

FAMILY GAME. As the children did in this session, your family might want to take a silent tour around your home and yard. What sounds do you hear? Make sure everyone listens for small sounds, such as the hum of a computer or refrigerator, as well as more obtrusive sounds. If you go outside, how long can you go before you hear a human-generated sound?

FAMILY ADVENTURE. Take a trip to a forest preserve, park or rural area to listen for the sounds of nature. Perhaps, like acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton, family members will want to record the sounds they hear. Take note of how long you can go without hearing a human-made sound, such as an airplane or car.