About the Day
Of all the communication skills, we will practice none so often as listening. Whether listening is literal—the practice of absorbing and understanding a speech act like a lecture or discussion—or more metaphorical, as when we listen to our data, listening is central to effective teaching and meaningful learning. But listening is rarely explicitly taught, and often taken for granted.
Thus, the 2017 Symposium turned to active listening—that is, listening with empathy and receptiveness, in order to truly understand and engage—and argued for its importance in our public and academic lives.
- In a panel discussion, Sayantani DasGupta (Columbia University), Nyle Fort (Movement for Black Lives), and Maria Elena Torre (The Public Science Project, The Graduate Center, CUNY) shared their experiences as practitioners and scholars of active listening. Panelists identified strategies for listening actively and responsively, and reflected on how listening shapes the communities they serve.
- Keynote speaker Leonard Lopate (then-Host of WNYC’s The Leonard Lopate Show) spoke about listening to guests as they told their best stories, reflected on their careers, and engaged audiences.
- In an afternoon workshop, “Active Listening in the Classroom,” we explicitly applied listening strategies to our pedagogical practice to become better listeners, and teach our students to do the same.
You can view the entirety of the panel discussion below:
Or watch the keynote:
Or explore our program, meet our faculty table facilitators, and read more about our panelists:
- Listening to Teach: Beyond Didactic Pedagogy edited by Leonard J. Waks. This book argues for less didactic teaching—what Paolo Freire called the “banking” method of delivering content to passive, receptive students—and for more listening- and discussion-based pedagogies, and explores how those might be implemented. We found the introduction’s taxonomy of listening types and related skills particularly useful, and provided the book to all Symposium participants.
- Discussion as a Way of Teaching: Tools and Techniques for Democratic Classrooms by Stephen D. Brookfield and Stephen Preskill. Teaching active listening will necessarily produce a more discussion-based classroom, for which this book, also provided to Symposium participants, explores strategies and practices. There are chapters on how to prepare for a class even when you expect students to do most of the talking, how to keep conversation going, how to ensure that students are listening to one another and making room for underrepresented peers, and how to balance your voice as teacher with those of your students.
- You might also like to read our Very Short Guides on Active Listening, Building Classroom Community, or Fostering Participation.