Monday, February 20, 2012

We are Losing our Listening ...

Maureen Staiano asks in her article .... Do you ever find yourself mindlessly saying "uh huh" when someone is trying to tell you something only to have say just after "I'm sorry what did you say?" Have you been in a conversation with one of people and you are not really listening completely to what they have to say because you are too busy formulating your response? This is actually quite common and yet we think we are good communicators. In order to communicate effectively we have to be able to hear what the other person is saying. What I noticed is that all people talk a lot and listen a little. We want to say what bothers us, but nobody is listening to anyone. We think that we are very good communicators because we can express ourselves very well. However, communication is a two-way process. We have to speak and listen to each other. Losing one of these skills may result in many problems that can lead to disasters. Yes, our world nowadays is like a nightmare for me. If we respect and listen to each other, there will be no wars at all. People will live in peace and happiness forever. 

One of the sound experts called Julian Treasure talks about this solution in his wonderful speech "5 ways to listen better". He started his talk by these words "We are losing our listening" and he ended it by encouraging us to teach listening skills in our classrooms. We as teachers are responsible for all what happened and will happen. We have to develop our students' listening skills as a habit and for life. Julian Treasure suggested 5 ways to listen better despite of all the noise that surrounds us.

Are we a Deaf Generation?

Here are the 5 ways that Julian Treasure suggested to listen better:
  1. 3 minutes a day of silence.
  2. Mixer ... listen to the different channels around you.
  3. Savouring .... enjoying mundane sounds. The hidden choir.
  4. Listening positions  .... playing with those filters.
  5. RASA  ....  Receive - Appreciate - Summarize - Ask.
He also suggested some practical activities for teaching listening in our schools in his blog:
  1. Silence:
    Help students to experience this possibly for the first time in their lives. Teach about it (take a look at my blog on silence for some ideas) and then work up from short shared silences - maybe one minute to start with - to longer ones. This will be very precious for them, but also very challenging. Ask them to write or share their experience of these silences, and what silence means in their lives.
  2. Mixer:
    Take students to rich aural environments (start inside the school) and have them pair and log all the sound sources they hear. If you have the resources, let them experiment with multichannel sound.
  3. Savouring:
    Give students a multi-day project to notice sounds and bring their three favorites into class to share. If you have the resources (e.g., own a Zoom H2 digital recorder or similar) do this one small group at a time and have them record the sounds to play to all. You could do the same with sounds they dislike.
  4. Listening Positions:
    The most powerful of all. Pair students up and have A say what they had for breakfast while B listens from different positions (for example 1 I'm bored; 2 I want to be friends with this person; 3 I'm in a hurry; 4 what can I learn from this - please make up your own also). Have the As share their experiences at the end, then the Bs. Swap and repeat. If they get the principle that you can change reality by listening from a different place, that will be a great gift.
  5. RASA (Receive, Appreciate, Summarise, Ask):
    Practice each element by pairing up again and have listeners turn each element off and on while listening and then both people share their experience. Have them share about their general experience of being listened to at home, in school and elsewhere (especially by adults), and how it affects their own listening to others.
We badly need to practice these activities in our everyday lives first, then we can do them with our children and students in schools. As the proverb says "A man can do no more than he can."  How can I teach students how to listen and I don't know how to listen to others. I think that we can use Julian's video as a beginning to use our ears wisely and enjoy all the sounds around us. Leave you with other videos by this great expert:
Conscious Listening 

The 4 Ways Sound Affects US


Shh! Sound Health in 8 Steps 


Happy Watching!


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