This morning I woke to a conversation on twitter that caught my eye, perplexed me, and concerned me all at once. It was about how someone was treated rudely on the phone. One person didn’t understand the other, and attributed it to an accent, but this wasn’t very tactful or helpful, and came across as downright rude. Now the thing is, I wasn’t there. I didn’t hear the conversation, but I heard the aftershock. What happened left a mark and caused upset (* see note below). This post is not about the actual conversation, but about the nature of learning and listening. It made me think of the curiosity of communication and teaching. Image CC BY by Double-M
If we only know by shadows, then what truth is there?
The conversation reminded me of the importance of perception, empathy, and a willingness to learn to understand.
In my classes I often talk about communication, as I work with people aiming to perform and teach music in various settings, including 1-to-1. It is a bit heavy going, but I start one class with this quote: Read more
(3 min read) This one’s for Dave. Thank you for asking me to write it.
So this post? We were sitting next to each other in an airport cafe eating pizza before catching our flights to our respective homes after a conference and we were talking about different forms of communication.
I have always been curious about perception and connection, Read more
(read time 2 min) That’s right. The sketches on the post it notes in the photo all represent the same object. They don’t look the same?? Well that’s what happens when you only know something second hand. They were the visual interpretation of a single verbal description of the object. This week we were exploring the importance and impact of clear communication, and I started us off with a ‘bad’ example to show just how things could go awry, and the result was these adorable cheeses.
How many times have we had to say, ‘no- that’s not what I meant…’ even in a casual conversation? Clarity becomes all the more poignant when professional interaction relies on being able to communicate well. For me, as a teacher, I am aware that communication and the descriptions that introduce students to new things and ideas – as if showing them shadows of what they will later experience as reflections, and then embody in their actions – can be the first step in their own understanding, and if this is presented with clarity that students can use it as a tool to move forward, but if it is vague then the resulting interpretations can be as varied as our cheeses.
Everyone took a turn explaining and the importance of feedback and ‘checking up’ along the way was easily demonstrated, even when the explanations seemed clear, the results could be a bit wonky if we didn’t communicate along the way…
Exhibit A: The broccoli, explained by 10 people collaboratively, but without viewing the progress – only the result. We thought this broccoli might be called Sponge Bob.
For our purposes, the concept of clarity and communication was translated into musical explanations – as often, in the beginning stages of learning, students don’t know what they are doing until they have done it.
You know that phrase… I hear what you’re saying… yes, but do you understand?