Here is a chart showing different voice levels on which kids can operate in the classroom and school environment. The chart seemed to point out that silence is something special in that silence is golden implying that kids voices are noise and distracting.
I am sure each voice level is appropriate for different situations, but I don't think silence is golden in a progressive educational set up , maybe silence is golden in a traditional classroom.
I noticed that Alfie Kohn in his chart of ' what to look for in a classroom ' 'http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/wtlfiacchart.htm uses the word sounds instead of voice or noise levels . In a traditional classroom and one especially focused on teaching to test because of high stakes testing ' silence is golden ' and kids' voices are noise. On the other hand in a progressive classroom kids learn by asking questions of each other and teacher, talking and discussing kids voices are not noise but sounds of engagement and activity.
Progressive classroom - Sounds
Frequent hum of activity and ideas being exchanged
Traditional classroom - Sounds
Frequent periods of silence
The teacher’s voice is the loudest or most often heard
Instead of silence is golden I would talk about thinking and reflecting , listening etc. We have 2 eyes, 2 ears and 1 mouth which suggests we should be more listening , reflecting and thinking to make sure our speech is relevant and helpful.
High stakes testing is turning kids voices into noise rather than sounds and impacting on other areas as well.
A teacher known for his interesting projects and student collaboration in learning said to a group he longer teaches. He is now busy teaching to test for high stakes testing that the school is forced to do. A reading teacher had a certain amount of time where kids read books of their own choice in classroom. Now that she has to teach to test for reading and comprehension tests kids don't have time to read in the classroom.