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Importance of Listening

According to Zarefsky, listening is important for three reasons: (1) Accuracy; (2) Feedback; and (3) Assessment.

First is accuracy. I can still remember back in my 6th grade this one test given to us by our English teacher.

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Looking back from today, it was actually more of a listening test than a reading test. Before we begin, our teacher told us to read first the instructions before proceeding. Then she gave out this two pager test about following instructions like this:

Write your name in capital letters on the upper right hand corner of the paper and underline your family name.

List the top ten movies you like.
Draw three stars of varying sizes and encircle the biggest star. You get the picture. There were about 50 of these instructions! So, I hurriedly answer as much as I can since we were told that it we will be under time pressure. After just five minutes, the teacher announced that it was already time to pass the paper and I wasn’t even half-way! I protested that there was not enough time. She asked me if I was listening when she asked us to read the instructions. I said, “Of course.” To which, she replied, “Then, you should have read in the instructions that you are only asked to do item no. 1.”

Second reason is to be able to give feedback. I remember one of the fights I had with my then girlfriend Donna. (Not her real name.) She was saying something and but I was too engrossed with in solving this differential equation which was an assignment due next day for Math. Of course, that got her really mad. “Are you listening?” she angrily asked. “Of course, dear,” I said. “Then, tell me what you think?” Confident that I could get away with this, I made a remark on the phrase about assignments. “Yeah, I know. It must be tough for you.

These teachers are driving us nuts,” I consoled her, thinking that I can get away with it. That, of course, made her really mad. She was not talking about assignments. It was actually a sarcastic remark, “Sorry, I think I’m getting in the way of your assignments.” And so she unleashed the conclusion of the matter, “I guess I really do get in the way of your assignments. Maybe it’s now time for us to move on.” Then, she walked out on me. That one, I did get clearly, because I was listening intently: She wanted to break up with me.

And that brings me to my last point: Assessment. I was able to interpret and evaluate the message. Because I was listening well that time, I understood that she didn’t mean we were ready to discuss another topic or we were supposed to go somewhere. Based on what she said and her reaction, I knew she was really mad and moving on means breaking up.

Personal Listening Habits

I was able to hear Steve Murell 2007 last year (July 19, 2007) speak on Leading With the Next Generation for 25 minutes. He got his text from 1 Samuel 17:38-40 and while he was expounding on the passage, and to get the most out of his talk, I employed note-taking – a technique which, according to Nwokoreze (1990) is the stage where I would reach the maximum level of understanding. (His talk is also available as pod cast in the Every Nation World Conference (2007) website.) He introduced his talk by first saying that Saul had always been used as an example of a bad leadership but if we will examine his life, it was not all bad. If ever he did only one thing great, this is it. And that introduction really hooked me in.

I his teaching, he claimed that there are principles we can actually learn from this two men of God and that is in the area of leadership. We know that Saul was a lot older than David and he is a warrior. During his time, he was able to defeat his enemy using his sword and armor. So, wanting victory for David, he suggested that he should wear it, too. The problem is David was not used to it. So, he reasoned with Saul and asked Saul to allow him just his sling and stones. And to that, Saul agreed.

If you would ask me up to now what can we learn from that, I can still tell you without even referring to my notes but I can tell you that the notes really helped me really listen and digest the message. If I had not done so, I would have forgotten it all by now as studies show that this process begins almost right way. (Scott 2002) Besides, taking good notes has been found to aid individuals in remembering what they hear. (Cuesta College Academic Support 2003)

Note-taking helped me in two ways: First, it helped me to focus on the focus points of the message. In as much as I was very interested in the topic, there were times that my mind would wander away or be caught up by a particular illustration. For instance, when Steve tell that David and Saul’s story is also a picture of the church, I got lost momentarily because I got caught up in analyzing what it means. I was still figuring out all the parallelism when I heard him say, “the point is…” As if on cue, I reached out to my pen and paper and write the point.

I also jot down what he said that caught me so that I could later refer back to it and meditate or savor it if necessary. There were also times when I become too reflective which is quite distracting in a way. I asked myself (because Steve asked us to evaluate ourselves), “Am I giving opportunity to those who are under to me rise up in leadership or am I too insecure a leader to let them have the spot light?” Then, he would ask another question but I was still in the middle of my reflection. So, what I did was to pause, write down what I was thinking, and jot down his next question or point and knowing why I was there – to learn how to be a better leader – helped me be effective in my note taking as suggested by Fajardo (1996) and was proven by me.

Since Steve spoke for just about 25 minutes, I didn’t have a great deal of difficulty listening to him. I’m used to attending classes where teachers would lecture for more than an hour so his teaching was actually a refreshing break. But, I must admit, though, that too long speeches or lectures literally give me a headache. Just before writing this paper, I came from a whole day academic forum where I had to listen to different speakers lecturing for at least one and a half hours each. I tell you, it was difficult, especially when they say something that is beyond my vocabulary or knowledge. I actually had a headache afterwards. Perhaps, this was due to the fact that I was already very sleepy during the middle of the third session but I still pushed myself to listen.

Margaret Sanger’s Speech

Margaret, on her speech, addressed the morality of birth control as she said on her opening statements, “The one issue upon which there seems to be most uncertainty and disagreement exists is the moral side of the subject of Birth Control. He next statement revealed her audience: “It seemed only natural for us to call together scientists, educators, members of the medical profession and the theologians of all denominations to ask their opinion upon this uncertain and important phase of the controversy.”

Sanger seemed to suggest that birth control is a moral imperative. In fact, she said that her belief is that “the discussion of the moral issue [of birth control] was one which did not solely belong to theologians and to scientists, but belonged to the people.”  Therefore, if this is not confined only to specific groups of people but to all people, then it, indeed, is a moral imperative. To drive home her point, she even explained what moral means. According to her, this would have implications of different actions which rely on the mind and the brain and that brain development is very much linked to morality.

To those who are saying that birth control is unethical, immoral, or violation of God’s law, she started first with a discussion on morality. According to her, it would be immoral if we are irresponsible and reckless and irresponsible in our actions. We would have the “finest kind of morality” on the other hand if we are able to think ahead about the actions we plan to take. Then, she went into the discussion of how the progress of women we opposed for the fear the they would be immoral if they were granted freedom. Then, she appealed to the church to have more confidence in them.

Then, she discussed the foundations of birth control which she also accepts. She said that the only problem with this in how methods to uphold these principles were carried out. So, she suggested information dissemination which should be done directly by those in the medical field. In this may, “motherhood may be the function of dignity and choice, rather than one of ignorance a chance,” claimed the speaker.

Finally, she went back again on the concept of planning ahead so that population control would begin at conception instead of resorting to the killing of infants, abandoning children, and abortion which is less civilized and gives life a lower value. Then, she concluded by encouraging people that the masses are becoming wiser and have been giving enough thought for their conduct. It more people would exhibit this, she claimed that there would be less immorality.


Cuesta College Academic Support. (2003). Listening and Note-taking. Retrieved February 7, 2008 from http://www.cuesta.edu/student/servs_classes/ssc/index.html

Fajardo, C. (1996). Note-taking: a useful device, Forum, 34(2), 22.

Nwokoreze, U. (1990). Note-taking. English Teaching Forum, 33(2), 39-40

Scott, J. (2002) The 13 Keys to Effective Listening and Note-taking. Retrieved February 7, 2008 from http://www.csun.edu/~hcpas003/Listening.html

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