Following up on my last post about connecting with the book The Blue Sweater by Jacqueline Novogratz, I love the advice Novogratz’s mentor, John Gardner, gave her: (remembering, again, to substitute the word ‘student‘ for ‘philanthropist‘):
“The one most important skill to teach is listening. If philanthropists don’t first listen they will never be able to address issues fully because they will not understand them.”
In her final chapter, Novogratz lists the most important things she has learned over the last 30 years. She said that people will almost always tell you the truth if you take the time to listen. If you don’t take the time, they will tell you what they think you want to hear.
Do we teach our students to listen? Not just to hear, but to listen, to question, to understand. How can we and our students become part of the solution if we don’t truly understand the problem.