I asked a question and you replied with silence.
The air is barren, save for the songs of the whirring fan. The students’ faces, however, say something else — “Forgive me, sir, I wanted to raise my hand and spout a witty argument, but I cannot, I will not shame myself should I stammer with a missed verb or be found shallow or worse: be branded as a fool. So I shall just keep silent and wait for the bell of dismissal.”
The classroom is a battlefield, where thoughts serve as bullets, mouths act as guns. When a student would answer and you whisper words of ridicule with your seatmate please do know that you’ve just shot some friendly fire, and your camp has lost the battle. Such a sad, sad thing.
As teachers we find it frustrating when there’s no engagement in the four corners of the room. The silence slices the ties; it diminishes the sharpness of insight and the value of communication. We do understand your esteem, your hesitations, your being conscious of your reputation, your front — but we wish also to hear the sound of your thoughts. We wish to see your side of the universe. How much we could have learned from each other.
Yet you wish to hide in silence, waiting for the others to say your thoughts for you (which will never happen), waiting for the time to die away, waiting for nothing.