Friday, December 6, 2013


What does it mean to listen? 

It is one of those questions that we think we know the answer and yet when we stop to really consider the question we are at a loss for words. 

The Kindergarten teachers and I joined the mothership (the preschool teachers)  for a discussion regarding the book The Hundred Languages of Children. We had read the chapter entitled the "Pedagogy of Listening". 

The entire chapter was powerful but one sentence really resonated with me:

"Listening produces questions, not answers."

Often when we listen we have an impulse to solve the problem described, react to a comment, instruct, console or give advice. How often do we or those who are listing to us respond with questions?

Try it today. Listen to someone and respond with questions only. What happens? Does it change the entire conversation?

As  a teacher at Sabot I have learned that my voice in the classroom can sometimes resemble the adults in Charlie Brown.

Children are most influenced by the ideas, thoughts and words of their peers. If I stopped talking and empowered the children to talk and listen to each other contagion, inspiration and learning would live in our classroom. Peppermint Patty didn't just have a cool name she was a sage. 

To end on a more serious note: 

I have been listening to reflections on Nelson's Mandela's life the last 24 hours. In each reflection he is regarded as a leader who listened. He listened to others and others listened to him. His voice carried.

"As a leader....I have always endeavored to listen to what each and every person in a discussion had to say before venturing my own opinion. Oftentimes, my own opinion will simply represent a consensus of what I heard in the discussion."
Nelson Mandela


  1. Beautiful, Mary - and I love the idea of listening as a way of honoring the memory of Nelson Mandela. I will try today to listen and respond just with questions, though I know it will be a challenge for someone who likes to talk as much as I do. Here is one of my favorite quotes on listening; I think it speaks to what we hope will happen when we listen to our students: “When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand. Ideas actually begin to grow within us and come to life.”
    ― Brenda Ueland, author of Tell Me More: On the Fine Art of Listening

  2. Susan, thanks so much for your comment. I tried it yesterday, too. I find that I am more present in the moment...I am not thinking about my response or connecting their responses to my life. Definitely helps me focus on the person talking ONLY.