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Two Types of Interpersonal Listening

by Leonard J. Waks - 2010

Background/Context: Although the concept of listening had been neglected by philosophers of education, it has received focused attention since 2003, when Sophie Haroutunian-Gordon addressed it in her presidential address to the Philosophy of Education Society.

Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study: Haroutunian-Gordon offered a cognitive theory of listening, according to which an act of listening involves raising questions about both the speaker�s utterance and the listener's own beliefs.

Research Design: This article draws on the methods of philosophical analysis to provide a competing account of listening. This account distinguishes between two types of listening, a cognitive (thinking) type and a noncognitive (empathic feeling) type.

Findings/Results: By considering a number of familiar classroom incidents, I show that both kinds of listening have important roles in teaching and learning.

Conclusions/Recommendations: I conclude by questioning whether the empathic type of listening can directly be taught. I conclude that it cannot be, but that teachers can provide three kinds of �helps� indirectly to foster its growth in learners.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 112 Number 11, 2010, p. 2743-2762
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 15790, Date Accessed: 5/31/2020 11:20:46 AM

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About the Author
  • Leonard Waks
    Temple University
    E-mail Author
    LEONARD J. WAKS is professor emeritus of educational leadership at Temple University. He earned a Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of Wisconsin (Madison) in 1968 and has taught philosophy and educational theory at Purdue, Stanford, Penn State, and Temple. He is the cofounder of the National Technological Literacy Conferences and is general editor of the book series Leaders in Educational Studies (Sense Publishers). He has published over 100 scholarly journal articles and book chapters and is the author of Technology's School (JAI, 1995). He has served on the editorial boards of Curriculum Inquiry, the Journal of Curriculum Studies, Studies in Philosophy of Education, Educational Theory, Education and Culture, and other journals, and as a member of the board of the John Dewey Society and as chair of its Commission on Social Issues. His current research addresses emerging educational arrangements of global network society and the contemporary relevance of American Pragmatism.
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