Quit laughing. I know you read the title and started cackling. Children, admittedly, have a lack of appreciation for quiet. If anything, the heavy walking, loud breathing, human noisemakers seem to get perverse pleasure out of being loud. To them, he or she who is the loudest for the longest wins.
Teaching children to value quiet is about more than just saving our own sanity. There’s another, more fundamental reason. Gordon Hempton is an acoustic ecologist, or collector of sound. He travels the globe in search of the rarest nature sounds – sounds that can only be heard in the “absence of man-made noise.”
According to Hempton, silence is an “endangered species.” In an “On Being” interview with Krista Tippett, he described our environment as being filled with “noise pollution,” like the pinging of cell phones, the beeping of car doors locks, and the rustling of the artificial fabric of our clothes. These things don’t just take place in our homes and public spaces. They’re everywhere – even in nature.
If you’ve been to a designated outdoor space lately, especially somewhere with crowds, like a National Park, you know the truth of this. There is always one annoying hiker who brings a walking stick – and a cell phone. Or you’re deep into a walk in the woods only to step on a crinkly potato chip bag that someone neglected to pack in, pack out.
In a world where being loud is lauded, let’s teach our children the beauty of quiet and stillness. Let’s teach them to listen intently, not just to words, but to the sounds around them. Did you know that while our bodies sleep, our ears don’t? It’s how we can hear the alarm clock in the morning or a child calling for us in the night.Teaching children to appreciate silence isn’t about saying “hush” or doing like your elementary school teacher did and turning out the lights until everyone settles down. Make listening to the quiet into a game, and try some of the following:
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