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Editor's Blog

Listening


I was at a conference recently where various well-known and influential people spoke about their work in the very early years. While some of these were eminent academics and some were senior practitioners and knew their subject inside-out, nearly all focused on the difference that could be made to women and men facing challenges during the transition to parenthood by simply listening to them.

Without any knowledge of what the other speakers were going to say, I, too, had decided to focus a part of my brief presentation on listening. I spoke about how fortunate I was to have been trained as a parent educator by tutors who allowed me to talk endlessly about my own experiences of becoming a mother. At that time, to be able to talk about myself (something not greatly encouraged during my childhood) was a treat and I learned a great deal by formulating and reformulating what becoming a mother meant to me. It was perhaps only later I understood that in order for me to have done so much talking, someone else had to have listened.

I recently reviewed an article on a new transition to parenthood programme. Feedback from the mothers and fathers who had attended it was excellent. They had enjoyed the learning activities and had found them relevant and helpful. However, it was the chance to talk and be listened to in a group in which the facilitators modelled excellent listening that was clearly the therapeutic aspect of the programme.

And I wonder whether that isn’t the simple – but very profound - reality of any successful educational programme or caring endeavour. Namely that the success is first and foremost linked to the opportunity for the person receiving care or being educated to tell their story and be listened to. A relationship between carer and cared, and between facilitator and group member, that is based on respectful, interested listening is the vehicle for the care and the education. Without that relationship, there is neither care nor education.

This is why care and education (if by ‘education’, you mean something more than the mere conveyance of facts) requires ongoing contact between carer and cared and facilitator and group members. Relationships don’t establish themselves in a half-hour encounter, but take time. Not necessarily a great deal of time because if you offer people who are struggling with their lives the chance to be listened to, they will generally work hard to build up a relationship quickly.

We can develop complex therapies and diverse educational opportunities for people with a whole variety of needs, but no matter how highly trained and specialized the educator or clinician, success or otherwise will come down to whether a relationship is established which enables trust and confidence on the part of the woman or man receiving the intervention.

people spoke about their work in the very early years. While some of these were eminent academics and some were senior practitioners and knew their subject inside-out, nearly all focused on the difference that could be made to women and men facing challenges during the transition to parenthood by simply listening to them.

Without any knowledge of what the other speakers were going to say, I, too, had decided to focus a part of my brief presentation on listening. I spoke about how fortunate I was to have been trained as a parent educator by tutors who allowed me to talk endlessly about my own experiences of becoming a mother. At that time, to be able to talk about myself (something not greatly encouraged during my childhood) was a treat and I learned a great deal by formulating and reformulating what becoming a mother meant to me. It was perhaps only later I understood that in order for me to have done so much talking, someone else had to have listened.

I recently reviewed an article on a new transition to parenthood programme. Feedback from the mothers and fathers who had attended it was excellent. They had enjoyed the learning activities and had found them relevant and helpful. However, it was the chance to talk and be listened to in a group in which the facilitators modelled excellent listening that was clearly the therapeutic aspect of the programme.

And I wonder whether that isn’t the simple – but very profound - reality of any successful educational programme or caring endeavour. Namely that the success is first and foremost linked to the opportunity for the person receiving care or being educated to tell their story and be listened to. A relationship between carer and cared, and between facilitator and group member, that is based on respectful, interested listening is the vehicle for the care and the education. Without that relationship, there is neither care nor education.

This is why care and education (if by ‘education’, you mean something more than the mere conveyance of facts) requires ongoing contact between carer and cared and facilitator and group members. Relationships don’t establish themselves in a half-hour encounter, but take time. Not necessarily a great deal of time because if you offer people who are struggling with their lives the chance to be listened to, they will generally work hard to build up a relationship quickly.

We can develop complex therapies and diverse educational opportunities for people with a whole variety of needs, but no matter how highly trained and specialized the educator or clinician, success or otherwise will come down to whether a relationship is established which enables trust and confidence on the part of the woman or man receiving the intervention.

I was at a conference recently where various well-known and influential people spoke about their work in the very early years. While some of these were eminent academics and some were senior practitioners and knew their subject inside-out, nearly all focused on the difference that could be made to women and men facing challenges during the transition to parenthood by simply listening to them.

Without any knowledge of what the other speakers were going to say, I, too, had decided to focus a part of my brief presentation on listening. I spoke about how fortunate I was to have been trained as a parent educator by tutors who allowed me to talk endlessly about my own experiences of becoming a mother. At that time, to be able to talk about myself (something not greatly encouraged during my childhood) was a treat and I learned a great deal by formulating and reformulating what becoming a mother meant to me. It was perhaps only later I understood that in order for me to have done so much talking, someone else had to have listened.

I recently reviewed an article on a new transition to parenthood programme. Feedback from the mothers and fathers who had attended it was excellent. They had enjoyed the learning activities and had found them relevant and helpful. However, it was the chance to talk and be listened to in a group in which the facilitators modelled excellent listening that was clearly the therapeutic aspect of the programme.

And I wonder whether that isn’t the simple – but very profound - reality of any successful educational programme or caring endeavour. Namely that the success is first and foremost linked to the opportunity for the person receiving care or being educated to tell their story and be listened to. A relationship between carer and cared, and between facilitator and group member, that is based on respectful, interested listening is the vehicle for the care and the education. Without that relationship, there is neither care nor education.

This is why care and education (if by ‘education’, you mean something more than the mere conveyance of facts) requires ongoing contact between carer and cared and facilitator and group members. Relationships don’t establish themselves in a half-hour encounter, but take time. Not necessarily a great deal of time because if you offer people who are struggling with their lives the chance to be listened to, they will generally work hard to build up a relationship quickly.

We can develop complex therapies and diverse educational opportunities for people with a whole variety of needs, but no matter how highly trained and specialized the educator or clinician, success or otherwise will come down to whether a relationship is established which enables trust and confidence on the part of the woman or man receiving the intervention.

I was at a conference recently where various well-known and influential people spoke about their work in the very early years. While some of these were eminent academics and some were senior practitioners and knew their subject inside-out, nearly all focused on the difference that could be made to women and men facing challenges during the transition to parenthood by simply listening to them.

Without any knowledge of what the other speakers were going to say, I, too, had decided to focus a part of my brief presentation on listening. I spoke about how fortunate I was to have been trained as a parent educator by tutors who allowed me to talk endlessly about my own experiences of becoming a mother. At that time, to be able to talk about myself (something not greatly encouraged during my childhood) was a treat and I learned a great deal by formulating and reformulating what becoming a mother meant to me. It was perhaps only later I understood that in order for me to have done so much talking, someone else had to have listened.

I recently reviewed an article on a new transition to parenthood programme. Feedback from the mothers and fathers who had attended it was excellent. They had enjoyed the learning activities and had found them relevant and helpful. However, it was the chance to talk and be listened to in a group in which the facilitators modelled excellent listening that was clearly the therapeutic aspect of the programme.

And I wonder whether that isn’t the simple – but very profound - reality of any successful educational programme or caring endeavour. Namely that the success is first and foremost linked to the opportunity for the person receiving care or being educated to tell their story and be listened to. A relationship between carer and cared, and between facilitator and group member, that is based on respectful, interested listening is the vehicle for the care and the education. Without that relationship, there is neither care nor education.

This is why care and education (if by ‘education’, you mean something more than the mere conveyance of facts) requires ongoing contact between carer and cared and facilitator and group members. Relationships don’t establish themselves in a half-hour encounter, but take time. Not necessarily a great deal of time because if you offer people who are struggling with their lives the chance to be listened to, they will generally work hard to build up a relationship quickly.

We can develop complex therapies and diverse educational opportunities for people with a whole variety of needs, but no matter how highly trained and specialized the educator or clinician, success or otherwise will come down to whether a relationship is established which enables trust and confidence on the part of the woman or man receiving the intervention.

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