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Why all schools should have 'quiet carriages'

Photo of Gel Hannan
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Three years ago, 'quiet carriages' on Sydney trains were implemented. They allowed commuters a self-regulated space where they would be free of loud music, mobile phones, chatter, etc. 

In a time of such 'noise' and busyness, schools would benefit from a variety of different practices and spaces where students and teachers can think in silence, without interruption. What if schools introduced: 

  • no bells - this works successfully in my own school; everyone is mindful of the time and moves off when they need to. 
  • a variety of different spaces that were designated in different ways: you might have some 'quiet carriages,' some collaborative group spaces, some individual work spaces, some spaces for quiet reflection when there is a need to take a step back from work.
  • at least 15 minutes of mindfulness meditation each day. Perhaps this might be a guided meditation that everyone would do simultaneously, or perhaps there might be a programme that people can access in their own time. 
  • 'gallery walks' instead of assemblies - the space would be re-designed so that it is more like an art gallery than an assembly hall with hundreds of chairs. Students and staff would all have their time in the 'gallery,' observing works (news), hearing updates (watching videos and listening to the audio through headphones), etc. They could choose how long they wanted to spend there and how much they devoted to each item. 

When thinking about how spaces might be redesigned, I am reminded of Square's office in New York that has a central boulevard and is designed much like a city, as well as a circular kindergarten in Japan that sees students use different spaces and levels to collaborate, move freely and then eventually return to their work (TED talk here). 

Evaluation results

3 evaluations so far

1. Potential for Impact: Imagine this solution had near perfect implementation. To what extent would this solution bring about a culture of innovation within a school or classroom?

A lot! This solution would greatly bring about a culture of innovation in schools or classrooms. - 33.3%

Somewhat. This solution would somewhat bring about a culture of innovation in schools or classrooms. - 33.3%

Not much. This solution might help with other things, but I don't see it really bringing about a culture of innovation within schools or classrooms. - 33.3%

2. Feasibility and Fit: To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement: If this solution were available to me right now, I would be able to use it with relatively low investment. (i.e. money, time, or skills).

Strongly agree (this solution strongly aligns to my/my school's current capacities). - 33.3%

Agree. - 33.3%

Neutral. - 33.3%

Disagree. - 0%

Strongly disagree (this solution would take a big lift in resources to pull off). - 0%

3. Adaptability: I could imagine this solution working well in a variety of school and classroom contexts across a diverse set of needs.

Absolutely! I could see this working for a variety of schools and classrooms with different or unique needs. - 66.7%

Somewhat. I could see this working for many schools and classrooms, but it might need some adjusting to fit a broad diversity of contexts. - 0%

Not a lot. This seems like it might be better suited to only a few contexts. - 33.3%

4. Scalability: To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement: This idea could be adopted by an ever-growing number of teachers or students without requiring significant changes.

Strongly agree (this solution could easily scale without any significant changes). - 66.7%

Agree. - 0%

Neutral. - 33.3%

Disagree. - 0%

Strongly disagree (this solution would require significant changes in order to properly scale). - 0%

5. Desirability: Do you wish this solution were available to you right now?

1 - Not a lot. There's not a big need for this right now and/or we use something already that fulfills a similar purpose in my school or classroom. - 33.3%

2 - 0%

3 - 0%

4 - 0%

5 - A lot! There's nothing like this already and I'd love to have it in my school or classroom. - 66.7%

Inspired by (1)

The Blank Plan


Join the conversation:

Photo of Jane Bain

This is a great idea. Our learning commons areas work so well for collaboration but we equally need to provide that quiet learning space. There is a Ted talk about meditation and quieting our minds for just 10 minutes a day. I believe that you are right, in our busy world we need to strategically make time for quiet in order for creation to blossom. Thanks

Photo of Gel Hannan

I would love to know which TED talk that is, Jane! Sounds like sage advice.

Photo of Jane Bain

This is the Ted talk by Andy Puddicombe which talks about the power of 10 mindful minutes a day.

Photo of Robin U

I love your idea of quiet carriages in schools. We don't really have enough time to think these days. Creativity and innovation are bound to flourish with combinations of spaces and times, silences and noise, privacy and collaboration.

Photo of Gel Hannan

Thank you so much, Robin! Any suggestions on how to build this idea are very much welcome!

Photo of Mary Ann Lafosse

A quiet time and a quiet space are very important in learning. Some students have seldom experience these. Modern society and media can clutter our minds and overwhelm the senses. Teaching Mindfulness practices is one way to equip our students with these valuable life skills. I was about to post this idea when I found your posting. Great minds think alike!

Photo of Gel Hannan

I agree, Mary Ann! Some of my students themselves have acknowledged the toxic force that social media has over them. I feel that they want to 'switch off' but don't know how to.

Photo of Niranjan Vasireddy

Gel, I see where you are going with this. Sometimes I take time off myself to connect with myself. To me that connection is a place and location of my choice. However, When I am in the "Creative" zone of flow. Nothing seems to bother me. Not music, not noise, not chatter, nothing - Instead I see all of this as excitement pushing me more.
If I may - I would rephrase you thought with - how might we be able to inculcate the habit of mindfulness or connecting with oneself to help unleash creative ideas? Creativity is all around us and I believe in tuning our senses inwards and then outwards. This is a habit that needs to do developed and taught in schools. I am not a believer that just having a quite room will help with that. I see you connect with yourself, based on what little I have read. Don't you agree that you can find peace even in a chaotic situation - Why most of us say - "Relax, take a deep breath."
Hence I believe that we should teach children the habit of finding inner peace in any situation and not necessarily look for a handy cane :).
So how do you think we can teach kids this skill?

Photo of Gel Hannan

What a great question, Niranjan! There is a big difference between 'strong silence' when students chooses to stay quiet and 'weak silence' when students are forced to stay quiet.