Friday, September 27, 2013

The Art of Listening


At long last I am copping to it. I have been extremely Quiet here on the blog. For years! Part of it is introversion, but most is an “I’m too busy to write this” attitude with a little bit of “who would really want to read what I have to say, anyway?” underneath. So I guess it’s partly what Susan Cain refers to as being shy – as distinct from introverted – the fear of social judgment. This distinction interests me and I hope to explore it further.

In response to some of the guide questions, especially the first and the last (“How do you evaluate “quiet” people; how you address privacy?” And “How does thinking about “quiet” students (or faculty members) shape your understanding of the trivium—pedagogy, community, and Web 2.0?” I want to raise something I think I mentioned in our last f2f: I see the issue of “engaging” students and faculty of different backgrounds and comfort levels as a dynamic, ongoing, creative challenge for us as facilitators/educators.

One way to invite participation is to design learning activities that integrate thinking about multiple types of intelligences (some of my work in grad school was based on using Howard Gardner’s theories and applying them for learners in Adult Basic Education and ESOL).

That was part of why I wanted to bring Voicethread (VT) into C2.0. : in VT the visual is the way in to the conversation, which can then involve audio and writing. Btw, I LOVE how the group collaboratively transformed our “Quiet”  VT into a really fun and funny space…while still focusing on introversion!

The other thing I want to raise is how do we learn to listen – or do we? I go in and out of being able to listen well, or listen at all. And I’m pretty sure I am not alone in this.  

I’ve found some things that help, including meditation and, interestingly enough, some of the interactive art projects I’ve developed in recent years. In my life “outside” of LaG, I am a practicing interdisciplinary visual artist. Some of these art projects are in large part based on people engaging in co-exploring beliefs or behaviors with me. For example, why would (or wouldn’t) someone believe a homemade oracle, and how can intentionally doing favors for people be a different way of connecting with others (even if you tend to do a lot of favors for others without thinking about it)?

Doing these projects has, in moments, helped me slow down, and sometimes to get quiet, hold back, and listen to people I don’t know – or even those I know – in a different way. Sometimes, it carries into the rest of my life, including my role at the CTL. 

I'll end with a question I would love to hear your thoughts on. How can we integrate the art of listening into our work with learners of all types?

1 comment:

  1. How interesting to think of performance art for manage engagement of quiet students. I have always seen the art of teaching kind of a performance art. No matter what happens in our lives, the class has to go on. Maybe we can all use this performer (teacher) we have inside to get that engagement part pushed forward.

    Regarding your questions about listening:

    This semester I am part of a pilot class where most of the work has to be done in groups. Students have to find that is not their own process of learning but an experience that is shared by the class and the groups they are working with. In this way they benefit from different skills, talents, and ways of reasoning. Listening is essential, students listen to other students, groups listen to other groups discussion, and instructor listen what everyone has to say (when they are willing to say it-again the quiet issue).

    The whole process is called Productive persistence [http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/productive-persistence] where there are three basic components: 1) productive struggle, 2) deliberate practice, 3) explicit connections. Since there has to be productive struggle component the instructor always answers students questions with more questions after listening what the students question was. Listening anything as a "correct" and valid answer motivates discussion and discovery. It is hard, challenging, and sometimes frustrating where no one wants to say something, but when they do and start being encourage is very nice. On those occasions students put the pieces of the puzzle together by themselves.

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