Throughout my career in the business world, I was amazed at how many times both employees and customers had to be told something before they fully comprehended it. No doubt this was something which frustrated even the most skilled sales professionals who attempted to right the ship, and once again I am experiencing this same mindset with high school students. I fully understand that not all 100% of my students will always hear everything I say the first time, and their glazed look of amazement can sometimes get the best of me when I expect a minimal effort.
The true challenge is getting them to understand the benefit of listening not only to me, but their fellow students as well. After all, the ability to hear is part of the overall concept of literacy...so WHY do some individuals fall short in realizing this benefit? As a society are we becoming so focused to providing our comments and opinions that we lack the ability to listen to another person?
On the average we remember only 25% to 50% of what we hear, but I am convinced that these figures are much less for high school students. Whether I am presenting an important idea or concept, as much as I think they are listening to me, chances are they don't hear me. When the assignment is due in two days, they are confused as to when I spoke about it and what they had to do. While other educators are frustrated, I seek ways to attack this problem in order to correct it.
Another sidelight to this concept is our failure to listen to the inner voice inside, the conscience which each of us is born with. If we choose not to hear it and neglect to listen to its message, it becomes all the more fainter and fainter until even if we wish to listen to it, we are completely null of its existence. In watching the development of my students, I consider listening as one of the most important skills that they can ever develop. How well a person listens in life has a major impact on their job, much less the quality of their life at home and with friends. I constantly remind students that we listen to obtain information, to understand, for enjoyment, and most of all....to learn.
More than ever before I believe that listening is a skill that we can all benefit from improving. By becoming better listeners, my students will improve their productivity in and outside of school. They will also add skills which will allow them to influence, persuade and negotiate with others later in life. And better yet, they'll learn to avoid conflict and misunderstanding...be it in the workplace or at home.