Monday, June 20, 2011


"Summer Song", oil, by Mike Beeman
I’ve often thought of making a one-day project of simply listening with attentiveness to birdsongs, but strangely, now that I think of it, I’ve never considered listening to my students in such a particular and single-minded manner. Our large yard is busy with the songs of birds all spring and summer – a kind of concert it is, from dawn to darkness, day after day – and it would be a pleasure to pass the hours noticing the infinite variety of songs. It could be a serious project – an important assignment for myself, a mission, you might say. I could start at dawn, sitting out on the patio in perfect peace, with a pencil and notebook for notes, and a stimulating supply of snacks and ice water, and just listen – just enjoy the inspiring performances from the trees. I imagine myself noting the subtle variations in the songs (although I’m not at all sure how I would do this, being musically challenged), keeping track of where the songs came from, and following with satisfaction the assorted melodies.  I can also, now that I’m thinking about this, imagine myself taking similarly meticulous notes as I listen to my students throughout a given day. Just for one day I could make it my mission to be an attentive listener (instead of, as is often the case, a distracted chatterer and doer).  I could take it on as a special assignment, a kind of “charge” I would choose to give myself, sort of a unique duty for a day.  On that day my talking would be reduced to the smallest amount possible. Mr. Salsich would be seen but not heard much, since he’s doing a special task -- listening like a scientist to the countless ways his students use spoken words

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