Earlier this summer I read Anthony Weeks’ article, Toward a New Ethic of Listening and have been thinking about it since in the context of how we listen to students.
When they come to us asking questions, asking for help, telling us their stories, how we listen to them informs how we respond.
Do we listen impatiently, hoping to get through all our appointments with enough time to plan the next class, finish marking assignments?
Do we listen half-attentively, dismissing their concerns (a little) because our own student experience allows us the privilege of believing student life can’t be that hard?
Do we listen cynically, hearing not their voices, but the voices of students who may have stretched the truth, manipulated us in previous semesters, and by golly, we are not falling for that again.
Or do we listen as we ought…with attention, with genuine interest, with caring, with empathy…listening with the understanding that on the other side of the story is a human being who needs and deserves to be heard and to be believed.
We can’t always change a deadline, fix a problem, or give a student what they are asking for.
But what we can do is listen to understand. Everyone deserves that.