Watch, observe and listen

james shone

By James Shone

I was so impacted by watching the BBC documentary with Roman Kemp about how difficult it is to extract deep information from boys.  It made me think about how hard we need to work to offer ourselves as good listeners to our young people. It is often our way as parents and teachers to fix, instruct and inform our young people. However, I’m increasingly convinced that watching, observing, listening to challenges and letting them truly talk is often the way that they learn best. We can then offer authentic comments.

I think the listening brief is a powerful one.  However, we also need to think about the questions that we ask.  We are all very familiar with the pattern of: “how was your day?” and simply hearing the reply “good”- is that really conversation? I’d say no! Perhaps we should learn to ask these questions a little differently – rather than asking closed questions, we perhaps rephrase them by asking something more specific such as ‘how were your friendships today?’ or ‘what did you do in science today?’ By asking a more specific question, you enable a young person to have a greater opportunity to start and engage in a more open conversation.


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