Richard G. Petty, MD

Teaching With Silence

Bruce Pandolfini.jpg

For more than thirty years now, I have had the privilege of teaching all kinds of health care providers, as well as the general public. I discovered long ago that just giving people the answer was a recipe for disaster. Worse yet, expecting them to learn by sitting quietly and watching me, was mind numbingly tedious for all of us. So I was interested to hear what a famous chess coach had to say. This is the fellow who was played by Ben Kingsley in the lovely movie, Searching for Bobbie Fischer.

“My lessons consist of a lot of silence. I listen to other teachers, and they’re always talking. I let my students think. If I do ask a question [why are you making that move?] and I don’t get the right answer, I’ll rephrase the question -and wait. I never give the answer. Most of us really don’t appreciate the power of silence. Some of the most effective communication -between student and teacher, between master players – takes place during silent periods.”        

–Bruce Pandolfini (American Chess Coach and Author, 1948-)   

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