Tag Archives: classrooms

Whose Voice? A Soundscape Ecology

A tweet crossed my feed this morning with the following message:

When a person dominates an event, the group shows less intelligence. #ADE13

Just those few characters in a tweet already had me thinking about voices…those that get heard and those that don’t.

And then I came across this TED talk by Bernie Krause talking about his study of wild soundscapes.  He introduced me to three new terms to understand his research:

1.  Geophony–the non biologic sounds in an environment like wind and water

2.  Biophony–sounds that living organisms make (not focused on the individual, but the sounds you hear all at the same time)

3.  Anthrophony–human sounds like airplanes, cars (things we think of as noise) or even music that is soothing or aesthetically pleasing

Bernie goes on to explain that the soundscape ecology can give us a great deal of information about the health of a habitat.  His point is that our eyes don’t give us all the information we need to assess the world.  Sometimes our ears can tell us things that our eyes cannot see.

Careful listening is also important in the classroom.  And I think, like Bernie, we need to listen to what sounds we hear…and what sounds are missing from our classroom soundscape.  The classroom soundscape includes the obvious sources: teachers and students.  We need to listen to not only who speaks, but also to what kind of speaking is going on.  Does the teacher dominate the talk time?  (Yes, instructional speech counts!)  What about the students?  Who talks?  Is the speech competitive or collaborative?  What role does silence play?  And what can we as adults do to shift the soundscape ecology?

What does it say about the group’s intelligence when some voices dominate?

What do you think?