Vlad Fiscutean

Brand Designer & CEO, TEDx Timisoara


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How are we going to get Conscious Listening into schools?

In his latest speech, TED speaker Julian Treasure made a call to all of the great people in the TED community to help him make the world more conscious about listening.

Julian is trying to get conscious listening skills to be taught in schools all over the world.

The stakes are high because we became desensitized by this noisy world we live in. We have now lost our conscious listening capabilities and therefore our access to understanding.

We don't really know how to listen, and this leads us to a scary world where people are not listening to one another.

So, Any ideas?

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    Aug 5 2011: I believe that there are always two conversations we are listening to. The first is exterior. The second is interior. It is how well we assimilate the two that makes for good listening.

    We are always talking to ourselves. An artistic example of the interior conversation we are always having is the soundtrack in a movie. We know that in reality music doesn't magically play to enhance our day-to-day experiences, yet in movies the soundtrack is crucial to the story. Without it, the movie would be incomplete. The soundtrack of our lives is that conversation and flood of feeling we have as we react to what is going on around us. That's why music is such a powerful form of art. It literally "speaks" to us.

    When I teach, I use music to communicate in much the same way that I use writing on a white/chalkboard to communicate.
    • Aug 23 2011: I really like your input and agree with every bit of it! I'm curious as to how you use music to communicate when you teach?
  • Aug 5 2011: I love your idea! You will be happy to know that, as a school principal, I developed a poster to be used in my school (and now have passed it on to many others) because we, as a staff, found that our elementary students were not listening in class. Basically, we defined the effective listener in two parts - the physical and the mental. There were six descriptors, the first three applying to the physical, the last three to the mental. The six descriptors of the
    1. I have my hands and my body still
    2. I have my eyes on the speaker
    3. I have my mouth closed.
    4. I can follow instructions.
    5. I can ask or answer a question on topic.
    6. I can make a comment, suggestion or connection on topic.

    Anyone who reads this little comment is free to use the idea and perhaps in some small way promote Julian's goal of making the world a less scary place. I certainly will use his ideas in conjunction with the 'poster' on the effective listener.


    Dianne Leggatt
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    Jul 31 2011: I've been thinking about this since I saw the Talk as well but without coming up with anything... While reading your explanation this thought came to mind.
    "The stakes are high because we became desensitized by this noisy world we live in." - We need to re-sensitize them (us) by blocking out "all" the noise every now and then.
    Taking strolls in the nature if there's an opportunity and so might be good way to go...
    I know that this is a really undeveloped idea but I thought I'd give it a go!

    Looking forward to following this conversation!
  • Aug 28 2011: Well let me try to tackle this problem from a different viewpoint:

    Theres a lot of noise. That noise isi't going away, to tell the truth anybody that cant adapt to the way things are is going the way of the dinosaurs.

    So the problem isn't one of reception, you cannot avoid receiving so many signals, the problem is transmission.

    How do we communicate in a world full of noise?

    The truth is that students are not the limiting factor for learning ins schools, but teachers.
    So, how do we communicate with students in order to engage them in learning?

    Now that I've built up my premise, that is that the world is noisy and we need to be able to be heard in that world of noise, let me challenge something else, the fact that the world is really that noisy i he first place.
    kids certainly don't think so, its pretty normal for them, its the old guys who both caused the world to be this way in the first place, then lament the way things are.

    I do this in order to make sure that everybody understands the issue as complex, having said that, my point of view is this: Teach your kids yourselves, forget about school treat it as a complement to learning and teach your child what you want them to know, the moment you pay attention to your child, your child pays attention back.
    Schools are not the issue here, if schools fail in any way its primarily the fault of the teachers, I mean, the people who really teach their kids how to pay attention in the world. The parents.

    Kids learn what they see, not what they hear.
    If you don't pay attention to your kids, the kids learn how not to pay attention to the world.
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      Aug 30 2011: I could not have said it better than that. I feel the same way, without a transformation in the way parents are coping with the realities of the responsibilities of having and raising children, what we see will continue. This fact is so over-reaching and high-up that it is overwhelming to even try to think how to FIX it. I don't foresee a heart-felt care of that magnitude within the hearts of our government or our people (unless we finally get sick of it to the point that we come together instead of further separating) in the near future.
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    Aug 25 2011: Being a high schooler now, I can vouch that the majority of students are not as much inattentive of the class in itself, but are engrossed in their own thoughts of friends, relationships, and quite commonly nowadays, other classes. Needless to say, these thoughts are harmful to the learning process in a single class- and, if left without notice, could be spread to more than one class and eventually the learning experience of the entire school day.

    I personally believe that to combat this, the teachers themselves have to simply create a more organic and involved class infrastructure. Many students have great lengths of trouble concentrating on a teacher, monotonously declaiming notes and facts at the front of the classroom- not to mention the inherent laziness that comes over most people in such a situation. These past school years, I had a teacher do the exact opposite- he managed his entire class online, and had us get involved in not only learning the subject material, but contributing to the advancement of the class- as his method began to develop a much stronger following. I had that teacher for three years (different courses, of course), and I don't think I've ever had a teacher who has so efficiently used the resources at hand- I can proudly say that he was not only the best teacher I've ever had, but an inspiration for my future.

    Another teacher I had, however, took a distinctly different approach. Within one month of school beginning, she became known as one of the most trustworthy and kind teachers in the building- even if her beliefs contrasted ours, students never hesitated to go and talk to her about anything, be it friend problems or grade problems. And every time we walked into her classroom, we not only felt focused and happy, but at peace with ourselves. We never failed to grasp any idea she presented us; and the many moral discussions our class dilated into greatly improved both our behaviors and consciences.
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    Aug 21 2011: Will think on this even though I HAVE BEEN for decades as I continually noticed my students' listening skills deteriorate more and more. In the past, I have tried a minute of silence at the beginnng of class, soothing sounds, classical music, paired listening partners, but to be honest, in the long run, I am not sure what will work.

    I think technology is partly thel culprit in this, for even if something is not "on", many of my students are still thinking about that last text message or FB status or "biting at the bit" to reply to a text rather than "living in the moment" and listening to me and their peers. And the other is life's stress, for parents are NOT listening to their children. For the most part, there is no longer a family dinner where kids and parent CAN talk to one another. Besides this, we have TOO MUCH STUFF in that there is a tv in every room; kids have their own computers, own rooms and there is just NO INTERACTION between family members anymore! When students talk about their problems, and I tell them to go to their parents for help/advice, most tell me that they won't listen to them or even take the time to ltry to isten. HOW many times have you seen adults not really listen to their children as they are too busy doing something else, thus they not giving their child his/her full attention?? AND this is where the problem begins.... as this behavior is learned.....then when you add technology to tthe mix where earbuds are in almost 24/7, there ya go Fahrenheit 451 has come true!!
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      Aug 21 2011: Your problem is that the kids who "have too much stuff" are being raised by parents who according to their parents, "had too much stuff". We're about 5 generations deep of parents holding their kids in contempt for not being grateful as amazing grace over all the awesome shit they have. I think if you want kids to be more active in what you appreciate, you need to get more involved in what they are appreciating. They are all just living in the moment we present to them. Guess what, the moment we are presenting them with is full of new shit.
      My point is, no body cares. We are all so used to hearing about so many problems, that even when our kids come to us with a problem, our natural reaction is to assess it quickly and often say handle it yourself or handle it my way.
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        Aug 21 2011: No body cares??? Contempt??? moment is full of new sh*t?? Are you an existentialist or just plain negative?? I CARE and so do MY children...and thankfully many of my students do as well. AND if you are an adult and your child comes to you with a problem (and I mean a big one and not "Sissy is bothering me"), and you do not take the time to listen to him/her, I say SHAME ON YOU. What is more important than helping your child? I am SICK of parents who think that once their child hits the teenage years, they no longer need them as that is when they really do, no matter what they say. What you said is just an easy way out for you and a cop-out as a parent

        .Now onto your comment about if I want my kids to be more" active in what [I] appreciate ,[I]I need to get more involved in what they appreciate" has WHAT to do with listening to or partaking in what is going on around them? I do know what my students are interested in, but in class, lessons take precedence. And that new sh*t as you say, at least in school is something that they just may need.

        And lastly, I don't agree with your "5 generations deep" of parents saying their kids had too much "stuff" as the 3rd generalion back would be MY parents who lived in the Depression and then the War. So...that is not valid. And to be honest, I did not have that much "stuff" either as accumulating "stuff" by the middle class was just beginning in the 1950's. The only exception for me was Christmas as my mom grew up in an orphanage, and I think she was trying to compensate for that, so I was just shy of the "overindulgence" that would soon be happening. Yes when many of my generation became parents, we did overindulge our kids, but the fact that they are ungrateful is due to the parents and how they raised them. I didn't overindulge mine; I listened to mine, taught them manners and how to act and dress properly, and you know what?? All three are non-materialistic, smart and caring adults who are helping to move society forward.
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    Aug 12 2011: One of the key things I have struggled with since encountering TED was to really understand to what extent participants want to collaborate and to what extent they want to broadcast.If we want to look at listening behaviours how do we score TEDsters?
    • Aug 12 2011: interesting thought, I think most TEDsters are more in the realm of seeking first to understand and then to be understood. This in itself lends to better listening.
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      Aug 17 2011: I believe these videos and talks can be very inspiring for those who Seek something good for themselves and/or others. The videos can be an inspiration to people, whether they have thought of the matters in question or not, know the solutions or not.
      I feel stimulated by the ideas exposed, for variable reasons, and I think this is very personal -for we are all human beings- and Can be very enriching. I might be wrong, but I think your question intends to get to what people are actually Doing, with or without TED's contribution. I can honestly answer I'm doing the best I can get to do with the power, strenght, awareness, energy, time and perception I own, gather and invest to do something for me and the people -for we share a lot with each other.
      I'm sure I'm doing the Best (which is for the Best can be reached by me in this moment) now with you, my brothers, my family, the people I meet wherever I am, my teachers, colleagues, friends...
      I'm also aware of how incredibly tiresome for me to do this is, but this is where people take part and help me, cheering me up, sharing their ideals and ideas with me, being ok with themselves, living up their lives, helping others, believing, making, achieving.

      May I ask you how You profit from TED? What do you share with the people around?
      All the best. (:
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    Aug 3 2011: Hi Vlad,

    My son is about to go to kindergarten and on the program is 'the silence game'. Curious if they are asking the toddlers to sit in a lotus position ;)

    Maybe a good start for later to be able to conscious listen in the class room. Though I hope to find a school by than where they 50% of the time listen to teachervideos at home and do 'homework' together in the classroom.

    You could invite Bob van Oosterhout (ted account 884864) to write a comment, as he told me and showed me through his videos how to be more consciously focused when needed.
  • Aug 28 2011: The answer to why is simple , people are lack of patience nowadays.

    This is not a school problem , this is a society problem.

    I believe learning to empty the mind is the only way to retrieve our desensitized senses.
  • Aug 28 2011: from the perspective of a mother: turn off the computer in the classroom (or limit and define its use, it is afterall only mimicing the human brain) to facilitate conversations worthy of listening to...
    turn off the Tv at home, again to facilitate uplifting conversations, stop the anaesthetising of our childrens developing minds so they ask questions from a conscious level. There cannot be conscious listening without conscious conversation. Humans are dumbing down their owngift of being conscious in favour of computers and convenience.

    do we have to live more consciously and become more connected with ourselves in order to be available to others, particularly children, in the role of facilitator or teacher?? perhaps look at the STEINER philolosophy of learning??
  • Aug 27 2011: Never...Schools are bureaucratic institutions, run on a corporate model, whether private or public.
    View the dvd "The Corporation".
    Challenge the "corporate viewpoint", and you will be slowly, but surely, "squeezed out", by the people who have a vested interest in controlling the corporation, and maintaining the existing power structure..
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    Aug 25 2011: I suppose that my conclusion is that yes, students' listening skills are being and have been desensitized by all the distractions we have in today's world- but I do also believe there is something teachers, as being the head of their specific classroom, can do about it.
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      jag .

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      Aug 24 2011: Not really, if teachers know the importance of listening (which of course there will be some), then it can be taught well. I see education as the foundation of society, so if its taught in school then it will spread through society into family/friends. This is more effective than trying to incorporate into society otherwise, as all/most children go to school.
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    Aug 23 2011: When we give students a feeling of purpose within themselves. Then let them know their knowlege and behavior will determine the future of the world around them.
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    Aug 22 2011: I suggest John Medina's book: brain rules


    It has a chapter where he explains how our classes are designed in a way that is brain unfriendly. Actually those are almost anti-fisiologic.

    In a nutshell: the way we expect to get and retain people's attention is based on the wrong assumptions.

    ditto for memory formation.

    He wrote there about his ideas on how to fix those problems and I got interested because he was elected professor of the year a couple of times, probably because it works :)

    It's a great book for anyone planning to use the human brain :)
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    Aug 15 2011: I think we get conscious listening by:
    1. really listening to students (practicing active listening)
    2. developing critical thinking skills
    3. training teachers to become active listeners
    4. all this requires open minds
    It is an attitude, and attitudes are slow to change and to acquire
  • Aug 15 2011: Engage participants through activities.
  • Aug 15 2011: We need to open our minds.

    Meditate-Practice Transcendental meditation at least 20 minutes a day.This method of meditation actually helped children in the united states and some famous composers like paul mccartney,mick jagger etc.

    Listen to Classical Music-Listening to Classical Music actually helps our brain to relax and be more hyper,creative and attentive.

    Always Think Positive-Thinking positive will attract positive things,Always remember The Law of Attraction.
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    Aug 8 2011: The first step to listening for anyone is simply to want to listen. An open-mindedness is necessary for the passing of information between any two individuals, the teacher and student for example. Young children are built for soaking up information from all around them, that open-mindedness is pretty natural. As far as school goes, I'm not sure the problem is being unable to hear or not knowing how to listen, it's just not wanting to listen. I am by no means an education professional, but it seems to me that around middle school (6th, 7th, 8th grade in the American system I attended) is when children don't want to listen most. I enjoyed Mr. Treasure's 5 ways to listen better, but I'm not convinced that they would be much help in a middle school setting. The problem is getting the information to the kids in a format that makes them want to sit up and pay attention. Personally I love infographics, the way they catch the eye and can share plenty of information so quickly with graphs and charts and short phrases. Middle schoolers also like pictures and bright colors, and if it can teach them something, hey, that's a plus. I know infographics aren't going to change the educational landscape, but I think simple things like that beat the heck out of reading long passages out of textbooks any day. I also find it's easier to consciously listen to an interesting speaker, TEDTalk speakers for example. Not a single TEDTalk was watched in any of my high school classes. Not only are even the longest Talks less than half the length of my high school class periods, but the shorter, more open-ended talks would serve as wonderful class conversation starters, while the various on-stage demonstrations are a wonderful way for students to see how new breakthroughs are actually making their way into working prototypes (like Harald Haas' lightbulb transmitters). Plus, they're given by fluent speakers I'm sure most students would have trouble not listening to.
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    Aug 7 2011: Hello,
    I think that there are two possibilities to make conscious listening possible:
    1. when the listeners and the idea transmitter are on the same wavelength - that means that the subject transmitted is corresponding to what the audience is willing to hear;
    2. the teachers must have the capacity to make all the children embrace the spoken idea;
    On the other hand, like you all are saying, some listening skills are needed and this is not an easy job :) because you have to be conscious that you have a problem with this; i propose to listen the silence - it's a brutal and effective way to become a good listener.

    It is true that we are living in a noisy and scary world but it's like in information - we want to listen but we don't know what...There are so many noises and information and we are lack of knowing how to filter them and to extract what really means to us. What is also scary is that to do all this jobs you have to have the capacity to systematize, because there are so many bad and harmful information on the market that you take it as a good one, without thinking.
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    Aug 7 2011: I sympathize with you.
    In Holland on TV we now have the programm 'over the line'. In one day boys and girls tell each other about their wounds and anxiety. (Go over the line when you.......e.g. have lost a person; be bullyed...etc. ) .The sphere on school changed totally Wonderfull.
    Last year i have seen such a programm in the Oprah Winfrey show.
    I have write a book for teachers to see problems of children.
    I have worked 25 years on a university for students in trouble with their development (disconcentration blocks intelligence) and I have described the main psychological themes they encounter. (Unfortunately only in Dutch). Very fruitfull!
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      Aug 21 2011: I was surprised to read this, to be honest, as I never thought the problems we have here in the states would be there as well or maybe not on such a grandoise level. But glad that you and others are doing something it.

      What I think what you may have seen on Oprah is called Challenge Day sponsored by the national club Be the Change. Last year, I was sponsor of it at my high school where I teach. We were to have a Challenge Day, but couldn't find another school to go in with us as the group charges A LOT of money to come out and do a program, and will only go to a school if they can promise 3 days which last year cost close to 13,000!!!

      Have you looke up Challenge Day on the net??
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    Aug 5 2011: The obvious quick way, to get the powers that be, to implement new concepts into public education is to convince a plurality of the decision makers that it will create better weapons scientists. At least that is how it seemed to work for "New Math" after Sputnik in 1959.
    The approach I am trying is to create a Model School that actually works better in every way and is less expensive to boot. When it is repeatedly demonstrated (with before and after objective evaluations) that even disadvantaged children can learn better faster and cheaper and be happier at the same time then eventually there will be more and more copying of the paradigm. I have seen a similar approach work for drug treatment programs nationwide. Prehab of Mesa (Arizona) started a very successful juvenile program in the late sixties and I have since discovered seemingly unrelated programs scattered all over the country that appear to have borrowed many aspects that they pioneered.
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    Aug 4 2011: I'd like to contribute a book called "From Cognition to Being: Prolegomena for Teachers" (Univ of Ottawa Press, 1999). It deepens the ideas in this talk as they apply to teaching and learning, and adds a few of the exercises I've used in high school classes to resensitize listening. I'm eager to engage with teachers who want to renew the ground we stand on with students. As Julian says, listening is about more than receiving; it is being together.
  • Jul 31 2011: Hi Jimmy, today I did a wonderful bike ride through forest around a beautiful lake. This is what we have to build as a normal event into our week. Listening is learning. Silence and nature are nutrients for us to revitalize to be better able to meet the more complex challenges of listening and learning than we had to meet previously.
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      Jul 31 2011: Hi Anthony, welcome to TED!
      I fully agree about the importance of nature and often take long walks in the forest myself.
  • Jul 31 2011: This is a dinosaur question. Learning has moved faster than you appreciate. The next generation have been long combining audio with visual to enhance learning with great results. Julian Treasure's 20% listening learning result was understood by up and coming educators in the 1980ies. Thez moved learning forwards. Check out Al Gore"s TED ebook lecture. We will soon have smell and touch in the same learning paradigm. Forget the learinng apologists