The Value of Active Listening

Teachers must go to school for four years to qualify as educators, yet students do not receive any instruction on how to be students. They are just expected to know how to act. Teaching and coaching are successful only when both parties connect. For the most part today, if you visit a classroom you will see a teacher talking and students sitting with non-communicative expressions on their faces. Students do not feel the need to communicate as listeners, because they’ve never been taught how. You don’t see them nodding their heads, making eye contact or taking good notes. There is virtually no sign that they are involved.

Wouldn’t it be nice if on the first day of each school year the students took a class on how to be active listeners—or even visionary listeners who can create new ideas from what they hear? With today’s technology, the situation requires even more consideration because kids are locked into monologues (through Facebook and Twitter). In the sporting and business worlds, it is critical that there be a constant, active connection between both parties. This is why teachers and coaches generally make great students—they know what learning should be like.

The Leadership Coach is Peter Burwash, president of Peter Burwash International, which manages tennis instruction programs worldwide. His books are available through the Media Zone. He can be reached at