A MOMENT OF SILENCE PLEASE
Every now and then we deal with the issue of whether or not children should be allowed or even encouraged to pray in public schools. There was one alternative that I really like but you don’t hear much about it, the non-denominational moment of silence. Only I think it should be twenty minutes, not one.
I wouldn’t pretend that this would be easy for the kids to do. On the contrary, it would be hard, at first. Unless we did it the easy way. Suppose we just gradually change naptime into quiet time as we move from kindergarten through the early grades. Then the kids would be used to it.
Sitting quietly with oneself for twenty minutes ought not to be such a radical idea. Clearly though, it is. There are those who would worry about what the kids were thinking. Some would say that the time was wasted and would be better used for more learning.
I would maintain that the kids would learn more during twenty minutes of silence than they do during an average twenty-minute period in class. Self-control, equanimity, self-awareness, a sense of direction and purpose, an ability to tolerate disturbing thoughts, all these would seem to be desirable effects.
If students want to read or write quietly, or do homework on their own, this would be OK with me. If someone wants to pray to their Lord, well, fine. They can do that on their own in their own way, silently, in accord with their parents’ or preachers’ teachings. We might give students elevating moral thoughts to contemplate if they wish. We could teach them how to empty their minds to achieve deep rest and inner peace. Would that be so bad?
A daily habit of prayer or contemplation adds stability and self-awareness to life. Too many children are navigating without a compass. Let’s teach them to develop and use their inner compass. Self-reflection will help them to make better choices.