On the first day of his existence, my son had to undergo a battery of listening tests to check his hearing. Most of us come into the world ready to listen, not speak for a reason. But all my student and adult life, I have been attending classes/workshops which help improve speaking skills, but none that helped me develop on the natural trait of listening. During our lives, speaking becomes so important that we stop listening. We hear, yes, but stop listening. And we try to make our kids that way too.
Even when we listen, it is to the verbal language and not the visual language. The ear takes dominance and sometimes complete control over this process of listening and we become deaf to the other “Hundred Languages” that we have to communicate with. These other kinds of listening have more to do with sensitivity and acknowledgement. Some take time; some are filled with pauses and silences of constructive meaning, a very personal meaning. In education, the pedagogy of listening is the pedagogy of reciprocity. It is an affirmation of the speaker/object and learner. It is an acknowledgement of “I exist” and “I am unique”. Yet how many of us listen, to ourselves and animate and inanimate things around us? How many of us parents and educators, recognise and develop it in our children?
Listening is an art. This was a very insightful blog, and I wish more of my co-workers were pondering this same topic right now. Today I came to an epitome about my company-required show-and-tell time. The children love it because this is when I listen to them. They have my undivided attention for as long as they keep talking, and they rarely have that throughout the week. I try to listen, but the student-to-teacher ratios are such that I am often interrupted by more pressing issues (someone got hurt, "Can you tie my shoe," etc.). I wish I had more time to listen. I suppose that the time to listen will never just appear, though. I have to make the time.