Good listening skills important to learning


Published: Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at 3:05 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at 3:05 p.m.

One of the greatest skills to possess is to have extremely good listening skills. Persons who develop good listening skills are usually successful people. An active listener normally focuses on the message being conveyed and processes the information with great understanding.

The idea is to gain clarity for the sake of not just understanding, but also to pitch an appropriate response. This is very important for anyone who is trying to learn new concepts. The acquisition of listening skills has tremendous benefits in the classroom.

Students who engage in conversation while the teacher is in full instruction mode will lose the message if they are not participating in active listening. Students should be thoroughly engrossed in classroom instructions without any distractions or interruptions. This is so important for students to learn and retain information. Good listening skills can help with concentration, which means the message will not be distorted. When listening exercises are practiced, there is continuity, and the flow of information is connected.

I was at a theater recently to see a movie and was surprised at the level of conversation going on while the movie was being shown. I was extremely annoyed by conversations and comments of some folks sitting behind me and my wife. My concentration was interrupted so much that I could not catch the next speaking line. The group spoke constantly throughout the movie.

As I thought about the emotional outbursts, it reminded me of students in the classroom. When there is conversation, laughter, outbursts of misbehavior and other distractions, I have come to the conclusion that this may be a reason why we may not perform well in the classroom. Performance has everything to do with listening skills. It is the centerpiece of learning.

The bottom line is if there are interruptions, we cannot listen and learn while teachers are attempting to instruct us. If you are a faith believer, the Bible tells us in Proverbs 1:5, “A wise man will hear, (listen) and will increase learning and understanding.”

This is a concept that transcends into truth. There is no skepticism in this fact. In the academic world, teachers perform miracles everyday by creating the most engaging curriculum. It is imperative that students listen and listen well to improve their understanding of challenging information. This is critical for learning.

We all know that there are different learning styles; however, in order to be effective in the classroom, where there are multiple individuals, socializing and engaging in conversation may destroy the climate for learning. One must take into account a teacher’s instructional momentum. The time required to impart knowledge is very important components in the learning process.

Time is essential for covering a certain amount of material in a short period of time. When classroom discourse is allowed to fester, little learning is taking place. It’s like the situation in the movie theater. Comprehension is interrupted and the linkage to the message is lost, resulting in disengaged learning.

In other words, there is disconnecting information. The brain cannot process information simultaneously under the fragmented reception of instructions.

The simple fact of the matter is we must change the way we approach learning and remember the No. 1 rule. One must be alert and be an active listener at all times to understand the information being shared. In addition, students must be considerate of others who may need the silence to concentrate on the message.

I believe that most students desire to learn, but if there are persons who are not interested in learning, they should have the courtesy to keep quiet.

So, the message for students for the remainder of the school year and in the future is to practice good listening skills. The skill will help you not only in school, but also beyond school walls.

I encourage students — and parents — to practice this very important skill.

Philoron A. Wright Sr. is assistant to the superintendent of community and schools for Alachua County Public Schools.

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