Friday, September 5, 2008

Now listen up...

I was catching up on a friend's blog the other day, written about her experience in Europe this past year. She spent her academic year in Switzerland.

One of the things she mentioned was about living somewhere that she did not speak the language.

She had to really listen to people to be able to follow conversations at all. And although she picked up the language fairly easily, there was still a period of time when she could not understand it quickly enough to be able to understand AND contribute her own thoughts to a conversation.

Among other things, this helped her learn the value of listening more than you speak.

It would be good if more people were to learn this.

We had the first classes today for a couple of the PE classes we teach. Brand new students.

It amazes me sometimes to watch the behavior of people in brand new situations. How some dive right in. Some hang back and observe for a while. And some seem not to notice that anything outside their experience is happening at all because they are absolutely unaware of their surroundings.

We spent an hour and a half setting the stage for the semester. Talked about safety rules, and about how nothing can be guaranteed safe, but we can make things as safe as possible. Talked about how we do that- by having very regimented classes, with everything done by the numbers. There is no improvising.

We talked about fighting, about how it's not possible to win a fight, only to survive. Talked about how one of the valuable lessons learned by boxing is that in a fight, you will always get hurt.

These classes are not for the lightweight, thin, modern fencing weapons. One is a longsword class; the other a rapier class. Much heavier. Much more dangerous. These are not weapons designed to poke a little hole- they are made to remove parts of someone's anatomy.

So how is it that after one of the classes, when asked if they had any questions, the first question asked was "When do we get to do real fighting?"

??!?

NEVER, if you're lucky. Do you get that? N-E-V-E-R. Never.

So what, exactly, happened? What was this guy thinking the entire class? Did he never get past "Oooooh! Swords!"?

These are students at arguably one of the best Universities in the country. IQs way above average.

But often, way too often, they don't listen.
They are in too much of a hurry. For what, I'm not sure. To prove themselves somehow? To have the last word? To make an impression?

Whatever it is, they would be well served to learn the lesson my friend learned overseas.

Listen.
Listen well.

And learn to tell the difference between reality and fantasy...

but that's a different story.

2 comments:

GreenJello said...

Listening is one of those things that you get better with the older you get, I think.

Experience teaches you patience and understanding. And shows you the value of listening!

I'm still working on it. I'm not nearly as good as I should be.

DFTF said...

Interesting! I think I'll pay more attention this week to see if I'm really listening to people or filtering information, creating something new in my mind.