Giving the gift of listening…

The following is an excerpted message from Jim Strickland, founder of ASCEND, on the Marysville ASCEND Mailing List. It is reposted here with permission from the author.

I was thinking about this:  even though we are all physically connected in our schools and community, we don’t always feel connected.  As I walk by hundreds of students and staff every morning at MG, I have no way of telling whether a particular person is feeling connected or if they are feeling completely lost and alone.  Sharing space with others is not enough if we don’t really feel those connections at a gut level.  So how do we create the actual feeling of connection in our schools and community?

If there is a silver bullet to cure what ails our society, I believe it is in giving the gift of listening.  Deep listening is how we bridge the internal gaps that keep us apart from each other and create the gut-level experience of connecting with another human being.  This kind of listening cannot be haphazard, but must be intentionally built into the very fabric of our schools and community.  Please be thinking about how we can do this more effectively, as well as other ideas to increase our experience of real connection, especially as students prepare to leave school.  I want to hear from students about what it will take for them to graduate with the deep assurance that:

  • My community is there for me and has my back.
  • There is a place for me in my community where I am valued.
  • My community really needs me to share my gifts and talents and will help me do that.

I will leave you with a slogan often used at Dennis Littky’s school, The Met:
“Teaching is Listening, Learning is Talking.”