Even though Jimi Hendrix is widely associated with the overuse of psychedelic drugs, he was quite the thinker wasn’t he? Or maybe the cannabis had something to do with it. I mean, all you have to do is Google ‘Jimi Hendrix Quotes’ and you’ll discover that he was quite an intellectual and some of his words continue to resonate long and loud just like the haunting tune of ‘Purple Haze’.
One quote that has been on my mind quite a lot lately is ‘Knowledge Speaks but Wisdom Listens ‘
While this can be interpreted by several people in several ways, I think the line speaks volumes to the plight of teachers in a world where they seem to be relentlessly racing against the clock. Taking the time to listen to others, whether they be students, parents, or colleagues, can make or break the effect you can have on a conversation and in that particular relationship.
In a school day that is governed by a dozen activities, hectic teaching periods, break time duties, substitution minutes, documentation, countless e-mails, irate parents and long term planning, it can often be very difficult for a teacher to consistently find the time to actually listen to his/her class and their ideas or spend time with someone who needs a friend or teacher to talk to.
I don’t mean that teachers today are ignoring their students and pushing ahead with the million things that deserve their attention, but I do mean that the really important stuff, like emotional support, or guidance and intervention in a personal issue – you know, things that really matter to students can often be negated into the background in a work day. I know there have been days when I’ve gone home at night and as I lay in bed in those minutes before sleep comes calling, I’ve realized that there was that one boy who tried to say something that seemed important or a colleague who looked like he/she needed to get something off their chest.
Wisdom will always tell us to listen. What we are told by people matters. It is these conversations that make our lessons all the more worthwhile and help to forge lasting relationships through the rapports that we build and the people we invest in.
Teachers have all kinds of subject knowledge, but it is through their commitment to really listening to the things that often go unsaid or need a gentle goading to be discussed that give them a sense of strength and purpose.
More often than not, wisdom can elude us. It is a challenge to execute control in a crazy class room and yet show that you care and you are willing to listen but, I’ve made this part of my teaching philosophy and cannot overemphasize the importance of Hendrix’s words.
Listen intently and wisdom will find you – comments that fall on deaf ears can often be the ones most in need of our attention. So don’t get caught up with the ‘hurly burly’ of all those lessons – take time to breathe, take time to slow down. Take time to listen.