Studies in Philosophy and Education

, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 399–413 | Cite as

A Time for Silence? Its Possibilities for Dialogue and for Reflective Learning

  • Ana Cristina ZimmermannEmail author
  • W. John Morgan


From the beginning of history sounds have played a fundamentally important role in humanity’s development as ways of expression and of communication. However in contemporary western society, and indeed globally, we are experiencing an excess of speech and a relentless encouragement to expression. Such excess indicates a misunderstanding about what expression and dialogue should be. This condition encourages us to think about silence, solitude and contemplation and the role they might play in restoring the realm of personal understanding of the Self and of one’s authentic experience of the Other. The purpose of this article is to explore the potency of a silence that arises from our participation in the world. We present first some ideas about silence as a human phenomenon. This is followed by an examination of silence and language, an investigation of silence in dialogue, and of its educational implications. The article concludes by emphasising the value of silence as potency in itself, assisting in recovering the expressive powers of language. We argue that it is important to understand the positive status of silence in order to recognise and avoid repressive speech and to introduce its potential for reflective learning.


Silence Dialogue Expression Learning 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Physical Education and SportUniversity of São PauloSão PauloBrazil
  2. 2.School of EducationUniversity of NottinghamNottinghamUK
  3. 3.Honorary Professor, School of Social SciencesCardiff UniversityCardiffUK

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