3.09.2009

Would You Rather Wednesday #23- Would You Rather Only Listen (to Others) or Never Listen at all?

'Would You Rather Wednesday' is a segment started in my 4th grade classroom to anonymously answer intimidating or circumstantial questions. I beg my students to be the change they wish to see in the world, the only problem is that they're succeeding.The more I challenge their child-like morals the longer my list of shattered preconceived notions becomes. This week's question was "Would you rather only listen (to Others) or never listen at all?
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After writing the question upon the tainted chalkboard I stood back and asked for thoughts. I wasn't sure if this was just another elementary style challenge or if they really had no thoughts. I convinced myself that no person ever has no thoughts. So I looked back at them and decided to not speak either. One child raised his hand and asked "Ms.A , is that your answer?" I wondered what in the world he thought was the question. I tried ignoring him but his pale, freckled skin looked so ashamed and so I caved. "Brian, is what the answer?", I demanded--slightly annoyed. "Well, you asked would we rather listen forever or never listen at all, and well you aren't talking so I thought maybe that was your answer, always listen."

I informed him that I was waiting. Waiting does not equate listening. I told him that if I had to choose I would most assuredly choose to never listen at all. I heard one of my students grumble that I was selfish. And, despite the fact that I am selfish that is NOT why I choose this answer. I explained to my students that it is my job to help them learn. My choice is to help them be the very best people they possibly can and if through some method of never listening I was able to talk and instead have them listen then I would have done my duty. "Yeah, but is that enough?!"-- Sarah the child who I heard whisper me selfish chanted back. And then I began to think, that the way in which I've gotten to teach is through learning. I have accomplished such learning through listening. If I never listen and I never learn than who am I to possibly teach?

And there it is, I thought these kids had pulled one over on me again but, they didn't. I remembered my grandmothers soft Spanish words ring in my ear "Never argue with a fool, for he might be doing the same thing." So i opened my mouth and looked across the room, thrice. "knowledge is not a gift, it's an opportunity." I continued by explaining to my children that not all knowledge is experienced through the pursuit of knowledge, some knowledge comes from others' ignorance. I told the students that I believe that as a teacher it would be better for me to never listen and for them to possibly learn from the mistakes they instead witnessed me making. I concluded with a slight smirk and absolute satisfaction in myself. "Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes, so I will give mine to you."

I had done it. I was the teacher, I run this. And then he raised his hand.

"But what about GOD?" I closed my eyes and tried to pretend I didn't hear him but, he just kept speaking. 'NO!' I told myself this is the best answer, it fits. But, he just kept speaking, "I've been talking to God, I don't know if he's listening or not and he never speaks directly to me but, that's ok because, he's always listening." HE is the best answer.Damn, I should've known that answer. And so again, and all too often, the student had become the teacher.

Maybe I should learn to listen.

8 comments:

Mina said...

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American Muslima Writer said...

SubhanAllah Children are indeed Deep. Sometimes if things are looked at throughthe other end we will find a new answer.

But You're a good teacher to be open to their ideas. SOme teachers jsut say I'm right lsiten to me and never let the kids open their brains and mouth.
XOXOX

Yaya said...

I love the random things kids say like that!

Tough question. At times I'd like to never listen...but overall, I'd rather be able to listen then not.

MarjnHomer said...

I agree with AMW, you're kids are too deep. How is that possible? At least you're learning and I'm still thinkin about the question that was asked. Did you make it up or did you find it somewhere?

Lisa said...

I envision you near the chalkboard exciting these children's minds, not unlike Robin Williams in Dead Poet's Society. What a great career choice and perfect for your fun personality!

I can't seem to make up my mind either. If we listen to someone, to their advice, we blame them when it turns out wrong. If we never listen, we have only ourselves to blame. I suppose it's easier to listen then look in the mirror.

Another thoughtful post. Just when I feel a twinge of writer's block, I come here and it ends. Love to you dear.

Cheryl said...

Your kids are like the most intelligent.

floreta said...

aw this is sweet. kids are really intelligent sometimes.. so humbled.

Mina said...

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