The Art of Listening as Applied to Talent Education
Muelling, Edwin Alvin, II
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
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Statement of the Problem.-The main goal of educators in all fields of education is helping children learn. According to Hildebrandt, the average person spends approximately "9 percent of a working day writing, 16 percent reading, 30 percent speaking, and 45 percent of his day listening.” Listening is considered by many to be the orphan of education for it has become a forgotten art in the Twentieth Century. Because it can be developed through training, educators should be made aware of the importance of the art of listening. In past years, the educational system of this country has not succeeded in developing listening skills to a high degree. One reason is because many educators fail to differentiate between hearing and listening. Hearing is “the physical activity of assimilating sounds," while listening is "the intellectual activity applied to hearing.” Listening is an art, which is a skill in performance acquired by study, experience, or observation. The art of listening is not something that can be acquired through do-it-yourself techniques. The ability to perform this skill well involves more than just hearing or letting the sound waves enter passively into the ear. Listening is basically a mental skill, developed primarily through training and practice. This requires knowledge and effort from both the educator and the student, for good listening is "an alive process, demanding alert and active participation." Many fallacies have arisen, hindering the development of hearing and listening in children. Many people feel that a child is tone-deaf if he cannot sing in tune. However, this only proves that he cannot sing, not that he cannot hear. If he sings in tune, he has certainly shown that he hears well. In essence, listening should and must be taught. The Suzuki philosophy that talent is not inborn, but that every child can acquire skills through experience and repetition, helps teach excellent listening habits. “For the sake of our children, let us educate them from the cradle to have a noble mind, a high sense of values and splendid ability."