You may have heard the common wisdom that “we have two ears and one mouth… so, use your ears more than your mouth.” How many of us reach that goal?
I come from a long line of talkers – rowdy, boisterous talkers. When I got in trouble in elementary school, it was for talking. I like to attribute this to my quick thinking and need to share my powerful insight and humor, but I’m not sure my teachers would agree!
As I have moved beyond my elementary school years (well beyond), I have tried to get better at listening. I’m much better at it than I used to be, and I try hard to really hear what people are trying to say. Mostly I enjoy listening because I also enjoy watching, people-watching to be specific. Watching and listening lead to powerful learning. Recently, just by listening, I’ve learned about an immigrant’s move to the United States, a child’s gratitude to a grandparent and several people’s ideas about a political occurrence.
Listening with an open mind and adding the information to your current storehouse of knowledge helps you make sense of the world. Humans are complex beings. We have emotions and ideas; our actions are based them. Listening allows us to learn and to grow – if we are open to it.
As educators, we need to listen more than we speak. We need to hear what children are saying and to try and parse it out to learn even more from them. Children are working hard to make sense of their world. Their questions, as well as their statements, allow us a glimpse into their world. As they grow, they are looking for those who are receptive to their thinking and their silliness. They want to know more and to contribute to their world. Lend a listening ear. Help them struggle with ideas and make their sense of the world. What have you heard today?