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Listening: A Lost Art

Updated: Nov 28, 2018

When we call something an “Art” we think something expressive, creative and masterful.

The word “Art” by definition means “something that is created with imagination and skill acquired by experience, study or observation.” Another definition is “something that is beautiful.” I say that listening is very much an art, a skill acquired by experience, study and it is most certainly a beautiful thing.

In a noisy world our student’s ears are overwhelmed with many sounds. They can find it difficult, and unpleasant to sort it all out. As a result, many times they simply “tune out”. Another issue contributing to this difficulty is the selfie-taking, me-centered culture. As a result, many times, they are more focused on being heard and seen rather than listening and learning.

Scriptures advises us all to “be quick to hear, slow to speak” (James 1:9). Proverbs 18:2 says “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.”

Even the world agrees on its value, as shared in these quotes.

"Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you'd have preferred to talk." Doug Larson

“I remind myself every day; nothing I say will teach me anything. If I am going to learn I must do so by listening.” Larry King

The message is clear, listening is to be valued and practiced.

So what can we do?

Active, effective listening is a skill that takes effort and know-how. It is important that we teach our students the importance of this personal sacrifice, and the value of what they can gain from exercising it. Sharing knowledge about this important skill is only the beginning. You must model it and even give students the chance to practice it. My listening skills lesson is designed to review the importance of listening, provide instruction on the anatomy of good listening skills, and an activity to exercise it.

Action items:

  1. Model good listening

  2. Teach listening as a skill

  3. Find out what motivates your students attention and use it

My students love a competition, even if it is with themselves! Whatever you are teaching, you can easily create a competition. Prior to teaching on a topic, ask students to tell you what they already know. In teams, let them create a list of what they know and then you share your instruction. For every point their list matches yours, they earn points. They love it and they pay attention because they want to win.

Listening is an Art, a beautiful thing, let’s teach it!

Definitions by Meriam Webster

Author: Kathy Pierce Howard, creator of Prep4Success Academy curriculum for educators and parents to enhance student motivation and success.

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