A 2013 study found that two hours of silence could create new cells in the hippocampus region, a brain area linked to learning, remembering and emotions. Decrease stress by lowering blood cortisol levels and adrenaline.
Silence is a tool which can be hugely beneficial to both the instructor and the learner. think about how you learn and reflect best, is it with a clutter of external distractions or in situations where the only focal point is the task at hand? Where conversation and questioning can cause the brain to overload and lead the learner into making mistakes, becoming extremely detrimental to the learning process. Silence can be Golden! Depending on the competency of your pupil, their knowledge and learning style, it’s extremely likely that they will perform the task better in silence since their focus will not be divided between achieving the goal and listening to their instructor.
In this way, the brain can concentrate on performing the task using existing knowledge and transfer that knowledge more efficiently from working memory to long-term memory, accelerating the learning process.
The added benefit is that it encourages more responsibility in your client, empowering them to take charge of the task as they will do so as a driver beyond the driving test. In this way, they become more aware of the strengths they possess and learn about their limitations. They discover where they need more focus to manage situations independently. Of course, we must again manage the risk and intervene if necessary to keep the car safe which requires us to be aware of both our pupil’s actions and of the surrounding areas, the next competency under risk management.
Silence is also a key factor during times of reflection, silence allows the learner to think more deeply and explore their thoughts and feelings around the experiences they have encountered.
One of the easiest things to do as an instructor is to step in too early with a solution, while your pupil is reflecting for themselves, diminishing the strength of their learning by providing a solution we think will be effective while denying our client an opportunity to consider for themselves and form their strategies. Whilst we often have effective remedies to help our clients to develop skills, we will never know exactly what our pupils thought or how they felt at a particular moment in time, whilst we know that it’s these thoughts and feelings that motivate their behaviour so, if you feel the urge to step in, try staying silent a little while longer, it might just surprise you to find that they have the answer or that the root cause of the behaviour was very different to what you might have thought and so to the remedy.