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Compassionate, Spiritual, and Creative Listening in Teaching and Learning


by Jim Garrison — 2010

Background/Context: Listening is largely overlooked in cultures constituted on the basis of the freedom of speech, such as we find in the United States and elsewhere.

Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study: The article explores compassionate listening as a creative spiritual activity. Such listening recognizes the suffering of others in ways that open up possibilities for healing and transformative communication. It is particularly important for a caring profession like teaching and critical for good teaching and learning relationships.

Research Design: Relying on philosophical reflection, the article mixes some of the basic ideas of Eastern thought revolving around the image of the Bodhisattvas as they who constantly ameliorate suffering. The article concentrates on the Bodhisattva �Perceiver of the World�s Sounds.�

Conclusions/Recommendation: We can only relieve suffering if we attend carefully to the needs, desires, interests, and purposes of others and respond in terms of their best possibility in the situation. Such self-eclipsing allows caregivers to avoid the horrors of conditional love. Such listening lies beyond theory and ideology in the immediate, directly involving sympathetic response, but not pity. It is not the kind of sympathy that assumes that the pain in others has the same characteristics or source as our own.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 112 Number 11, 2010, p. 2763-2776
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 15791, Date Accessed: 5/27/2017 7:50:19 AM

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About the Author
  • Jim Garrison
    Virginia Tech
    E-mail Author
    JIM GARRISON is a professor of philosophy of education at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. His work concentrates on philosophical pragmatism. Jim is a past winner of the Jim Merritt Award for his scholarship in the philosophy of education, and the John Dewey Society Outstanding Achievement Award. He is a past-president of the Philosophy of Education Society and current president of the John Dewey Society. His most recent book is an edited work: Reconstructing Democracy, Recontextualizing Dewey with SUNY Press, 2008.
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