1-A big criticism of today's learners is that teachers "talk to much". The old paradigm has the talking head at the head of the class with students sitting in rows supposedly "listening". Charles Schulz parodied this perfectly with his trombone "wah-wah" voice representing Charlie Brown's teacher.
2-So much "instruction" can be delivered non-verbally. Actually, nearly anything that needs to be learned can be delivered non-verbally....and creatively. Or, the "talking" can be pre-recorded and put into a"fun" package connected to either a podcast or a film/video or slideshow or some other format.
3-So, what if we didn't speak? What if we tried to deliver instruction in a completely different way? Can the classroom call to attention be something other than "listen up, class...."? Isn't it about getting student attention and sustaining it in the first place? What if instruction was compelling, non-verbal, web-based with meaningful, enagaging expectations and assessments? What if students had to e-mail a question/problem instead of speaking?
How would this change the atmosphere for learning? It might take time but my gut feeling is that things might be better. Instruction can be tailored to the individual as problems/issues arise and as we teachers point students toward potent web-based, media-rich resources. But the most important point is that we would be slowly weening students from dependence on the voice in front of the room and redirecting it to the voices in their heads-an empowering shift in attention.