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Posts Tagged ‘listen

I just started following Pessimists Archive on Twitter and listening to its podcasts. Both focus on the common but irrational fear of all things new.

The Twitter feed describes itself as sharing “reactions to old things when they were new”. Consider how this reaction in 1889 is still relevant in 2019.

It is 130 years later and people are saying the same about mobile phones.

Each podcast is about 30 to 40 minutes long and is released only every one or two months. I have listed to a few episodes and I can see why they are infrequent. They lead the listener with engaging storytelling and well-researched historical bites.

I liked two audio snippets in the episode about comic books. In describing how people lament about new technologies, the narrator said that you cannot herd cats but you can move their food. This described the human condition of gravitating to comfort (the nostalgic past) and collectively opposing change (the new present or uncertain future).

But when trying to bring change, we often impose it. For example, in the episode about comic books adults declared that they took action because they were thinking of the children. But they did not ask the kids what they felt and thought.

The furore over comic books has gone and the fuss now seems like wasted effort. The worry now is with computing technologies and video games, and we might be making the same mistakes. It is easy to say we speak for a group, but have be asked and listened to them first?

By the time this entry goes live, I should be rewarding myself with a short and actual break.

But I can bend light and see something beyond the horizon. This is why I chose to revise this image quotation.

History repeats itself. It has to, because no one ever listens. -- Steve Turner.

The new image is above while the original below was one that I uploaded to Google Photos in October 2015.

History repeats itself. It has to, because no one ever listens. -- Steve Turner.

Like my reflection on yesterday’s image quote, I liked the original image. It was simple and the bloodied “repeat” button sent its own visual message.

As I work with different agencies and various stakeholders, I sometimes wonder why they do not learn from one another. The opportunities wait to be taken and the links between groups grow cold. So instead of learning from the mistakes of others, they make the same ones all over again.

…to shut up, observe, listen, and learn. That was my response to the tweet below.

The next generation has much to learn from the current one. But the current one also needs to learn from the next one.

To leave a better planet for our kids, we need to leave better kids for our planet.

If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow. -- John Dewey

Last Friday I took my son out for a treat at a fast food joint. We opted to try a special menu option that the restaurant offered. As we were among the few trying that option, a “survey uncle” asked me to participate in a poll.

The survey uncle was apologetic for interrupting our meal, but thankful that he had found me. He explained that he had trouble finding my “demographic” (read: old and with purchasing power) so I humoured him.
 

Survey on Obama’s Cairo Speech by Swamibu, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License   by  Swamibu 

 
The survey was in only English and on an iPad. Participants also had to complete the survey on their own so that the poll was uninfluenced by the survey takers.

I remarked to the survey uncle that he was at the restaurant on the wrong day and time. It was Friday afternoon and kids in school uniforms probably outnumbered the adults 50 to 1. He informed me that it was the polling company’s decision to choose the survey period.

Here is lesson number 1: Listen to your stakeholders and learn about their habits. The company might think it knows better, but it does not.

The survey uncle also recognized that quite a few aunties and uncles in my age group and older 1) were not comfortable taking a survey on an iPad, and 2) did not understand the language of the poll. He had suggested to his bosses that an alternative survey be provided in Mandarin.

Lesson number 2: Listen to your troops on the ground because they are more aware of the issues. For example, the survey uncle realized that the kids around us only bought the cheaper meal items while those that went for the special menu were few and far between. He struggled to meet the quota so that the findings were at least statistically useful.

Lesson number 3: Reach out to your stakeholders in a manner they would be responsive to. As one size does not fit all, you are likely to need different approaches, e.g., in the survey context, this could mean using iPads, paper, and interviews.

The lessons apply to schooling and education. Policymakers and administrators might think they know better or see more from their vantage point. But as long as they are not on the ground, they cannot relate to issues that prevent new policies and change from taking root.

To be more effective, they need to listen to their stakeholders and teachers first. When they do reach out, it should be with a sympathetic and open ear first, not with a closed or iron fist.

It is important to listen to what our learners have to say. Unfortunately, for some teachers this is rhetoric and they pay lip service to that statement.

Fortunately, some students take matters into their own hands and create messages for all to hear.

The latest one was This Is Genius.


Video source

It might have been inspired by another one in 2013 from across the pond.


Video source

The next video is not a spoken word performance like the first two, but it is no less important.


Video source

The girl probably had help writing the speech. There is nothing wrong with that since political leaders have speech writers.

The girl’s ideas were not entirely new or uniquely her own. There is nothing wrong with that since all of us reuse and recycle the work of others all the time.

The girl had the confidence and courage to stand up for a cause. There is something wrong with us if we judge that cynically or lack the same courage to do the same.

The girl was barely taller than the lectern she stood behind. But she had a view that few adults had. Are we listening to her? Are we listening to our students?


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