“The world is tearing itself up because of one thing, and that is belief. The idea is that rather than screaming about it, we ought to just listen. . . . It rather idealistically and rather quietly suggests another way to talk to each other.”
          –Jay Allison, Host and Co-Produce of “This I Believe”

The end of the year and the semester nears once again, and I find myself wondering if I’ve made any different whatsoever in my students’ thinking, in their outlook, and mostly in their willingness to listen. I often feel that the biggest frustration I have as a teacher is the sense that my students just don’t listen to me–whether I’m not clear in what I say, whether they’re just not interested, or whether perhaps they don’t trust me enough to listen because I represent yet another obstacle between them and what they want–I couldn’t say. As a final endeavor, though, to impart to my students the importance of listening, of seeking to understand before judging, I ask them to participate in a “This I Believe” essay writing project. I’ve written about this project before. See: Getting Students to Speak with Conviction if you’re interested. This time around, though, I wanted to really emphasize the importance of this project as not so much an exercise in speaking as an exercise in listening. This is the spirit in which the national project was started after all. Read more