Education: Active Listening; Coping With Students Essay, Research Paper
EDUCATION , SPECIAL TOPICS:COPING WITH STUDENT PROBLEMS IN THE CLASSROOM:DEALING IN DISCIPLINE THOMAS GORDON ACTIVE LISTENING THOMAS GORDON ACTIVE LISTENING Thomas Gordon feels that one the most effective ways of responding tochildren s feeling or problem messages is the invitation to say more or as he callsit, the door opener . This type of response invites the child to share his own feelingsor ideas. The important thing is that the listener does not communicate any of his ownjudgments or feelings. When the listener refrains from asking questions, giving advice,teaching or moralizing, the student feels encouraged to start and continue talking.Gordon feels that this is because this technique conveys acceptance and respect forthe student by validating his right to express his feelings. As successful as this technique is, there is another which has been shown to beeven more effective. This is the technique of active listening. In active listening, boththe sender and the receiver of messages are involved. In this method, the door ofcommunication is not merely opened, but participants learn how to keep it open. Gordon says that in order to learn how to listen actively, the teacher or parentmust understand more about the communication process. He says that when a childdecides to communicate with a parent or teacher, it is because he has a need. Thechild s organism is in a state of disequilibrium because there is something going oninside him. He wants, or needs something.
In order to bring the organism back to a state of equilibrium the child begins totalk. Gordon gives the example of hunger. When a child is hungry, he mustcommunicate his hunger to someone else. He selects a signal he thinks represents hishunger to the other person. The child picks a code (encoding process) and perhapssays, When is dinner ready, mom? The mother might decode the message accurately and understand that the child is hungry. However, she might decode themessage inaccurately and communication might break down. In active listening, the mother could check on the accuracy of her decoding bytelling the child her thoughts. Once the child hears the mother s feedback, he is able to tell her mother that shedecoded wrong. As communication continues, the mother will have a trueunderstanding of his message. An example of a correctly decoded message given by Gordon is:- Child : Guess what Dad? I made the basketball team.-Parent: You re really feeling great about that.-Child: Am I?When this happens the child verifies the accuracy of the parents decoding by anexpression that shows that the parent understood. In active listening the receiver tries to understand what the sender is feeling. Heputs the understanding in his own words and sends it back for the sender s verification.The receiver does not put a value judgment or give an opinion about the message. He tries to feed back the sender s own message. The technique of active listening is not always easy for teachers and parents toadopt, because they are used to questioning, judging and preaching. However, theresults of this method of communication are often quick and dramatic. Active listeninghelps children become less afraid of negative feelings because they see that thelistener accepts those feelings. Active listening can also help promote a relationship ofwarmth between a child and his parent or teacher and this can open the lines ofcommunication even more.