Today’s Lesson: Attendance

photo by brother Dan

Now to learn to think while being taught presupposes the other difficult art of paying attention.

Nothing is more rare: listening seems to be the hardest thing in the world and misunderstanding the easiest, for we tend to hear what we think we are going to hear, and too often we make it so.  In a lifetime one is lucky to meet six or seven people who know how to attend: the rest, some of whom believe themselves well-bred and highly educated, have for the most part fidgety ears; their span of attention if as short as the mating of a fly.

~  Jacques Barzun, Teacher in America as quoted in Study is Hard Work by William H. Armstrong

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7 thoughts on “Today’s Lesson: Attendance

  1. Ah, so true!
    One of my favorite quote seems to go along with these sentiments:
    I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
    Sorry, no source info 😦

  2. Oh boy! That really hits where it hurts.  I know I am very guilty of not paying attention when someone is speaking.  I should probably print this out and hang it next to my sink.

  3. I really enjoyed this post, not only because I work particularly with students who have “fidgety ears” but also because of thinking about the spiritual metaphor here. 🙂 Thank you for sharing this teacher’s perspective.

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