Listening

Posted on: Tue, 04/16/2019 - 09:00

Attending Student Voices sessions with some of our high school and middle school students, I appreciated discussions about the importance of listening.

photo of students in classroomThe game is called “Telephone” or “Gossip” or “Grapevine.” Whatever the name, the results are the same. When a message is repeated down a line of individuals, it turns into something that rarely resembles the original message. When playing the game, we try to intently listen—so what happens?

The importance of listening has been expounded by many wise people who recognize its critical importance as a way to build understanding. Stephen Covey’s habit to “seek first to understand” laid the foundation for the other six habits of highly effective people. Colin Powell identified listening as the key to diplomacy. Ruth Bader Ginsburg describes the importance of listening to learn from others. There is no doubt that listening is important.

Yet, frequently today, there are so many distractions that listening is often cursory at best. It is hard to have a conversation with someone wearing ear buds. Have you ever been talking to someone who was trying to text or message someone else at the same time? What about those conversations where it seems that everyone is talking at the same time? Listening is not easy!

It has been suggested that, with the constant barrage of information in our world, we are losing our ability to truly listen. Getting someone’s attention on social media seems to require headlines or buzz words designed to create a stir or rouse anger. And what about the research that shows we tend to “listen” more to news and information that confirms our own beliefs?

I was so proud to see the FCPS students recognizing the challenge of truly listening to others, and then doing their best to listen. These opportunities to truly listen to understand will enable conversations that can make a difference in how we treat each other and how we become more united. 

Kudos to all of the students and staff who participated in Student Voices! Thank you for listening to the voices of others and for finding your own voice to share.  #OneFCPS