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Listening with curious intent

Written by: James Ingham
9 min read
Dr James Ingham, National Institute for Teaching and Education, Coventry University, UK The sense of hearing is truly remarkable. Developing as early as 16 weeks in utero, babies can recognise and respond to voices by 25 weeks. Playing music during pregnancy has been shown to positively impact babies’ brain development (Fox, 2000). As it develops, a baby’s most familiar sound is the rhythmic pulse of its mother’s heartbeat, which reflects her mood, emotion or physical exertion. As we continue to grow, so does our ability to listen, paying direct attention to and critically analysing sounds that we hear. In schools, however, listening is often used as a tool for behavioural control. Teachers may direct pupils to ‘listen’ and ‘not to talk’, passively ensuring attentive absorption of information. But the importance of developing effective listening skills extends far beyond crowd control. Critical to academic, social and professional success, listening plays an integral rol

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