02 May 2011


Probably the hardest part of being a teacher is listening to the students.  After all, as teacher I'm supposed to have all the answers for them, and I'm supposed to be explaining things to them and giving them exercises and homework to do.  My job is not to listen, but to speak and to guide.  It's very hard sometimes, finding the right ways to ask questions and simply listen to students' ideas once in a while.  It was easier at college, but now that I'm teaching high school, I find that I'm much more inclined to speak instead of to hear.

Part of this has to do with the students, of course.  Most of my students have little to no life experience, and what they have to say very often is so far off the mark that it doesn't help anyone's learning.  And teens tend to be very judgmental at times, too, so finding objective opinions is quite a rarity.

But nevertheless, it's important that I take the time to hear what my students have to say, to listen to their words and ideas and respond to them with respect and dignity.  After all, this is a deep longing of almost all of us--the longing to be heard and respected.  So I have to ask myself whether my job is about spreading information to the students, or about helping them to learn and to grow by encouraging their thinking and expression not just by allowing them to speak, but also by responding to their words and ideas with some of my own, of the encouraging sort.

You and I want to be heard.  The person in the elevator next to you, the person in the car behind you at the stoplight, the man at the supermarket checkout, the woman giving the newscast this evening--they all want to be heard.  We can make this world a better place simply by listening to others, by allowing them to express themselves and then responding in positive, uplifting, encouraging ways.  It's our choice whether we're going to listen to others or not, and if we do so, then we're contributing to a happier, healthier planet.

Listening is the oldest and perhaps the most powerful tool of healing.
It is often through the quality of our listening and not the wisdom of                   
our words that we are able to effect the most profound changes in the
people around us.  When we listen, we offer with our attention an
opportunity for wholeness.  Our listening creates sanctuary for the
homeless parts within the other person.  That which has been denied,                   
unloved, devalued by themselves and others.  That which is hidden.
Rachel Naomi Remen

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