Kiosk Guides for Learning

He who does not know how to be silent--will not know how to speak.
Decimius Magnus Ausonius
310 – 394
Latin poet/teacher

Preparing to learn series

Preparing to learn

Various strategies can help you create your personal space for learning that magnifies your skills and interests--what you bring to the table.

First prepare yourself
Take a little time to pause your daily activities and concerns
and to focus on the task at hand.

Try to fully engage with what you want to learn,
and with your teachers and fellow students.
This preparation can take many forms.


Set up your environment that will help you concentrate and focus your energy. Remove as many disturbances as possible: cell phone and live conversations, music and extraneous noise, visual distractions, etc.

Silence in learning

Stresses and responsibilities can negatively impact your preparation and performance before engaging with a critical task and/or considering longer range options in your life.

Before studying or a task, pause to clear your mind of distractions.
Set up a routine that becomes familiar and comfortable.
Start small and expand as you get used to it.

If you find yourself distracted, recognize why and think of options.


Centering yourself (through silence) can help you determine
the right path to achieve your goals, considering and developing options. Openness to alternatives can arise out of silence, can play a role in the problem solving process.

Logistics of finding centering time

Early mornings or late nights can provide times when you are free from distraction, even in busy dorms and households.
Look for breaks in your day: develop a routine.
If your schedule allows for group exercise, meditation, etc. you can intentionally allocate part of this time to clear your mind.

Socrates, Augustine and Gauguin praised the outdoors as a natural environment away from distractions of a busy life (but don't take your cell phone with you!). Locations include gardens, near-by woods, river walks, etc.
Retreats include a soothing hot bath, or lesser-frquented spots like work and/or laundry rooms. Urban oases include museums, libraries, even lesser-used public spaces.
Create your own space: Use headphones with the sound off, or adjust the furniture of your study space for privacy.
Even busy, noisy spaces can provide anonymity if you can work in that environment and be free of distraction.

Quiet time takes practice, even discipline.
Mindfulness and meditation can help you relax, reduce stress, and even lengthen your attention span
Paced breathing can have a sililar effect, improve focus and attention, even increased memory and recall.
Body language and posture can facilitate concentration, as will an occasional, active stretch. At a minimum pay attention to lower back, neck, shoulder and wrist strains--especially at computers.


Learning series:

The Role of silence in learning | Concentrating while studying |
Taking one test | Oral exams | Interviews | Sporting/performing events |
Collective class exercises | Problem solving process

Application of silence
based upon practices of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
Angelo Caranfa (retired) has written on silence as a foundation of learning and Katherine Schulz (School of Education, Mills College) on silence in the classroom and in teaching.