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Posts Tagged ‘listening

It is Friday. Time for something light.

The semester I declare war on giving talks is the semester I am invited to give the most number of talks.

In addition to two conference presentations, a couple of consulting gigs, a handful of professional development and pro bono sessions, I have also volunteered to share Leading by Listening and Learning over Lunch.

Here is the title slide.

pedagogy of the oppressed by d-q, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  d-q 

Recently I read what initially seemed like two contrasting articles:

The first article by The Chronicle seemed to paint Michael Wesch, edu Web 2.0 guru and creator of this now famous YouTube video, as backtracking on a more distributed and learner-centred form of instruction because Wesch learnt a thing or two from a colleague who was an accomplished “lecturer”.

The second article by Mind/Shift, said quite the opposite: Don’t lecture students.

I think both are sides of the same coin. It is not about putting the technology first; it is about the pedagogy. It is about making connections with people and content. It is about the passion for teaching and expressing the love for learning. It is about putting instructional strategies before technological know-how.

But there is something even more important than pedagogy and that is understanding how people learn and leveraging on that. If they learn in the presence of a more informed other, how does the latter reach for the former? There are also circumstances when we learn without a teacher. How do we learn then and how do instructors create the same circumstances to promote that kind of learning?

To use the examples on both articles, most lectures do not work because the lecturer is talking to an audience (who might not be listening) or talking down to it. On the other hand, a few lectures work because they are storytelling sessions, sales pitches, or talking-withs. To talk with someone requires the talker to listen first, to understand where the listener is at, and to relate to the difficulties s/he is having.

This is brain science (and some of my colleagues will call it the learning sciences). It is not rocket science. It is about listening first, not talking first. If you listen hard enough, your learners will tell you how best they learn. And today, those means are mediated or enabled by technology.

i hear by estherase, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  estherase 

One bad and good thing about taking public transport is that you get to hear people talk.

It’s bad because some people talk really loudly or there are some things you would rather not hear. It can be good if what you hear is an informal but useful source of data.

I hear a range of things from student teachers: Complaints about tutors, not understanding what a tutor said, recording lectures on the sly and playing the recordings back at leisure, what they might do after they leave teaching, etc.

I like to tell whoever bother to listens to me to just take the bus for a month and they will get more honest feedback than they can handle. You don’t even have to try to listen. People are practically screaming to be heard.

It makes me wonder if this is a valid data collection strategy…

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