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Who's listening?

One of the hardest things about being a teacher is pupils not listening.  Trying to get a class quiet and settled, or asking them to line up, or take turns, or issuing instructions - it can all be exasperating. 

I wouldn't be the first teacher to ask why they can't listen, and also to speculate if they are worse than when I was young. I suspect they probably aren't. Perhaps we are not so draconian about how we deal with and treat young people as young adults. Still, it can be challenging and makes me wonder - why is no one listening?

There are lots of people in society who must wonder why no one is listening. I am an environmentalist (from the age of about 8) and for a long time I wondered why no one was listening. There are some homeless and discarded members of our community who must wonder why no one is listening. There are pockets of people in many walks of life wondering that question - why is no one listening?

I listened to Chris Murphy, Senator for Connecticut, speaking in the senate today about the Texas school shootings.  He was asking - "Why are you here?".  He was referring to why the senate does little about gun control.  In my mind, he might as well have been asking - "Why is no one listening?  How many times does this have to happen before we hear?"

In this day and age, listening has become more and more important. Safeguarding in schools, as in many places, is now a vital role of teachers - no, sorry - ALL staff in a school.  Being able to stop, listen, and hear what young people have to say is so important. It is the not listening that has lead to so many mistakes in society in the past.

Listening is both a skill and a mindset.  It takes actually some practice and patience to be a good listener. It also takes an attitude of wanting to listen. Our egos can get in the way, as what we have to say is surely more important?  

If I'm speaking, I ask pupils to put their hands down. I believe that once the arm goes up, the ears switch off. I wonder if we need to sometimes tell friends, family members, colleagues, bosses, politicians, and others in decision-making positions:

"Just put your hand down and listen to me. No, actually listen. In a way that makes a difference."

Have a great half-term.

Matthew Shroff
Director of Wellbeing

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