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I have used moments of silence for years in both elementary and high schools. It calms students and helps draw their thoughts back to the task at hand. These days students are bombarded with more stimulation than ever. Moments, even hours, of silence are needed more than ever.
Assuming the moment of silence is not equated with prayer I think those opposed should let it go and find something else to complain about.
I voted "maybe" because I think the application of a "moment of silence" should fit the community of learners who are participating, and I would include students in this decision-making process. I respect their need of time to "reflect" on their learning experiences, as much as teachers need to reflect on our guidance of same.
I only wish that our national leaders took time to reflect on their actions and decisions - I often believe not even a "moment" is spent in this way - at least not without political partisanship, poll-watching or international "posturing."
Perhaps it is not "moments of silence" our nation now needs as much as it is time spent "listening" to the children - it is their world we hold in trust.
In our school, the "moment of silence," of necessity, occurs half way through the morning. It is sandwiched between the Pledge of Allegiance and the daily bulletin news. As such, it cannot possibly serve its supposed intent: to focus the student before the day ahead.
Students and teachers alike often ignore the moment of silence because the period has just begun or many students are still in the passing period.
Aside from serving no purpose aside from putting a foot in the door separating church and state, it detracts terribly from the times we "really" need a moment of silence: when a student dies, when there is a catastrophic world event, etc.: it trivializes the truly important and numbs the students to things that cry out for their attention and prayer.
The Chicago Tribune had a story about this upcoming vote a DAY before it came to pass. Not enough time in the press or in person to debate or discuss the issue in any meaningful way.
If you are at school and you say nothing about a moment of silence, everyone, yes everyone knows that it is a call to a Christian prayer and anyone who is not Christian feels alienated and knows that now is a time to "keep their head down or get it knocked off." I can assume that you are Christian or you would of course know this.
My students know my beliefs because my actions and daily interactions are a manifestation of them. I have had many students to ask me if I believe in God and I will respond with a resounding YES. We are, as educators supposed to be a moral guidepost for students and my morals are based out of my spiritual beliefs. I cannot and will not apologize if this offends you or anyone else.
I actually agree with the first choice, it serves no educational purpose, but additionally there is the social pressure on those who have no desire to pray. Schoolmates are notoriously mean to kids who are "different."
Parents can have a moment of silence / prayer or whatever over breakfast - as a family event it has more meaning and if they all have to get up one minute earlier, it's done.
It's the mandatory nature of the activity that makes it offensive. Helping students to have time to meditate/reflect/pray is fine as long as it's voluntary, not lead by an adult, something part of healthy living, whatever. And it's always wrong if it's mandatory and teacher lead becuase it is then sanctioned prayer.
My students were free to pray, particularly before tests, but I never told them God would answer, or that they must pray to get a good grade, or that they needed to pray to the education God to be sure to get maximum affect. We as educators need to set a higher standard, such as including students from all faiths, or lack thereof. No student ever knew my beliefs.