The concept of authentic listening is simple enough, but its actual practice is semi-radical. The good news is, almost anybody can learn to do it.
by Ruth Eckles
In order to learn with and from our communities in the deepest, most transformative sense of the word--"being with" as opposed to "doing for," "helping", "fixing," "saving," or "innovating"--authentic listening is not a nicety, it's a necessity. Without it, nothing can grow to its fullest, richest potential.
Truthfully, we could all use a little help, which is why David Malone, Director of Duke Service-Learning, facilitated a student-centered conversation entitled Listen First: A conversation about authentic listening, leadership, and learning with Dean Valerie Ashby, Michael Ivory (T '18), Jayne Ifekwunigwe, Leo Ching, Ada Gregory, and Adam Hollowell. Together, they explored the challenges, questions and potential solutions for strengthening our capacity to listen with approximately 50 Duke undergraduates.
As the Dean of Arts & Sciences, Valerie Ashby knows a lot about listening. Ashby oversees Trinity’s extraordinary breadth: 80% of the undergraduates, 38 units (encompassing the Humanities, Arts & Sciences and Natural Sciences), 671 faculty and 300 staff.
“People always ask me ‘What do you do every day?’ And I tell them ‘Everything. But I do one thing at a time.’ What I do every day--and literally this is the job--is about listening, learning and leading a community,” she says.