Like most people I’m very observant. Watching people and how they interact has always fascinated me. Have you ever noticed that people don’t listen to each other anymore? Whether we are in meetings, or conversing with a stranger, people are simply not listening. It’s a scary thought if this is the case in a classroom setting. Oh, the time wasted and lost when kids don’t listen, they just look like that are. Takes a good teacher to listen to the learning or lack there of to teach kids to listen as a skill. The learner must engage and connect through listening, unless all meaning is lost.
What people have mastered is hearing. We do hear each other. Some may disagree with me about the definition or meaning of hearing. My stance on hearing is that it is a noise that we may or may not notice, as simple as that. I was watching a woman today talking with the manager of a hotel. She was not listening to what he had to share. She was more interested in saying what she wanted to say. Her expression and the way her mouth was opening and closing, looking for a lull, so she could jump in. Her words were filling up in her mouth poised to fire out like missiles, all the while the manager was speaking. She was not connecting or listening with this man. It was like she has a series of things she needed to check off her “I must say these things” list. What a hollow, fake and nothingness conversation. Makes me think of this happening a lot in our classrooms. Kids hearing, and not really listening and learning from each other. This really worries me.
What about adults, we need to model good listening, yet a good portion of us are among the worst when it comes to actively listening and noticing when we are really required to listen.
I know it happens in most meetings, a small number pontificate and do a lot of posturing in hope of being heard. Maybe, that’s all they want, is to be heard. Thats not really good enough though. Who is that really serving or benefiting? When listening happens everything lifts around it.
In the Chinese character for listening there are four things contained inside of its meaning. Ears, eyes, undivided attention and heart. This is what separates hearing from listening in my opinion, especially the heart! Listening with empathy, that’s a whole new world to uncover.
Listening requires so much more and is quite demanding. In a good way though. Could you imagine if students learn to listen with their ears, eyes, heart and undivided attention. The world would be a very different place. At the moment I am in Sapa, Northern Vietnam where I am reconnecting with nature. I’m learning to listen to crickets, bumble bees, the breeze and the flow of running water to name a few. Here the true meaning of “silence is golden” is something I’m able to appreciate. We get so tangled in the busy webs we spin. Let us all think a bit more about how we listen to each other (as role models), to our kids and how they listen to each other. It is such an important life skill! If we can get better at that and I mean doing it well and being consistent, learning might be different from before. Do you really listen as the Chinese character suggests?