What is a Listening Session?
A Listening Session's purpose is to discover each young person's deepest knowing about how they would answer the question, “How do we educate young people to thrive in a world of possibility?” Created for 8 teens (ages 13 - 19) at a time, it is an appreciative, three-hour process of storytelling, sharing, idea generation and finally, co-creation of a collective vision into two 4 1/2’ X 6’ paintings (in two groups of four).
All young people have ideas about their education and how it should be changed. They also possess a deep wisdom about how their lives are affected by the world around them. Listening Sessions are designed to tap into this wisdom and give them the opportunity to express it in a safe and nurturing setting.
The sessions begin in Next we ask them to tell us a story based upon a question about their lives. This is shared aloud as well. Through all of this process, there is no judgment of their answers and the process weaves the group into a trusting space where they can feel free to open up. This creates a bond that allows us to move them to the final phase of the Listening Session.circle with a welcoming and explanation of the contribution they are making through their participation. We then ask them to answer 8 questions that move them into a heart space about their lives. These they all share with the group.
In this final section, we take them through a guided meditation where they come to a place of all things being possible. We then divide them into two groups of four and ask them to meet for up to 30 minutes to answer the question, “If anything were possible, what is the learning experience that you would create that you would love to be a part of?” Following their co-creative planning, they paint this vision on to a 4 ½ X 6 foot canvas. When both groups are complete, they share their visions with each other.
To close, we bring them back into a circle and give them a few moments to reflect on what this has meant to them. We thank them again and adjourn. All materials are collected so we have their feelings, ideas and visions on paper. We also film and photograph throughout the process, so the information the young people provide is captured exactly as they said it. It is then added in to the information from the other Listening Sessions and emerging themes are being identified.
Across the board, students have loved the process and are fully supportive of moving Imagine Learning forward. Each time we lead a Listening Session, the first comment at the end is,” Thank you for listening.”