Thinking About Education and the Importance of Listening

August 2, 2013

A wise young teacher once told me, “What my students have to say is more important than what I have to say.”  I gained a lot from that mini-lesson. I thought I’d pass on some thoughts about it, and the concept I saw below the surface (of what appears to be a crazy generality that goes against all we know about education).  Sometimes I reword it – “What students think is more important than what I think.”

We want students to learn to think for themselves.  That’s what we want for our students in the United States, and for all the students in the world.  One of the ways this happens is students say things, hear what they’ve said and then think about it.  They often see that the idea as expressed doesn’t make sense and it needs to be reworded or rethought.  That process of “fixing your thoughts” or “correcting an opinion or conclusion” wouldn’t have happened if the student hadn’t been allowed to speak up and freely express it in the first place.

How often has a teacher started a class with, “Today we are doing to discuss….”, but the teacher does all the talking?  Worse, current factory-model, lecture-method classrooms can’t allow real student participation or questions.  If each student in class asked one question or gave one thought….well, you do the math.  The lecture couldn’t even get started – we’re out of time..

So here’s my big thought of the day.  Let’s all listen more to our students and give them more opportunities to speak up.  

And, let’s just listen, instead of waiting for the nearest break to instruct or correct our students. Students are really brilliant, you know, and if you let them work things out for themselves, they learn many things in the process.  More importantly, when you let them talk things out, they can sort out their own illogics and slowly develop better communication and logic skills.  Just as we develop other skills, we learn to think for ourselves by doing a lot of thinking and expressing ourselves, orally and in writing.

We must ensure lots of student thinking, talking and writing happens in our schools!  Why? Because it is important that students think for themselves, and that’s one of the ways to get there.  

Are you listening….(smile)…..

Posted by marks on Friday August 2, 2013 at 11:36AM

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