Responsive listening involves being able to continuously respond to that thinking by actively eliciting it and making sense of it. The immigrant story being referred to is that of three brothers leaving Lebanon and coming to stay in Australia to be able to live in better conditions than their homeland and develop more economic opportunities for themselves. They did not flee their country nor were they forced to emigrate from their homeland, instead, they chose to leave for better opportunities in life. The most impactful moments in the story include the times when Youseff explained how he was called all sorts of names and was asked to go back to his country by the people and how there was no acceptance by the local Australians for him and his family. The way he replied to the mocks and the insults and still managed to live through the insults and mockery by telling people he had a lot of houses, when he had none and he also mentioned, he had a lot of wives, when he had only one. Upon noticing the insults hurled at them and the answers Youseff gave, it is evident that there were stereotypes in the society about a certain minority religion and people coming from the middle-east. Nonetheless, Youseff’s answers and his determination teaches us resilience and how to endure life as it comes.
Another impactful moment for me was in the beginning of the story where the family made the difficult decision to leave their own country, their native place, their home-land and migrate to Australia. The migration involved coming to unknown lands, without any financial, social, or emotional support. With absolutely zero knowledge about the language, culture and ethos of the new society in Australia, they began humbly by working in a textile factory. It speaks volumes about the privilege other people have who don’t have to leave their own country for earning money and for economic prosperity. They don’t have to charter absolutely unknown territories and call it a home in order to survive, like how Youseff explained- he felt sad and vulnerable and cried in his pillow, after his first experience in Australia. It helps me in understanding how privileged we are to be able to get everything we want in our own country in terms of economic and personal growth opportunities. This part of the story made me feel overwhelmed about coming to terms with my own personal privileges in life. It changed my understanding and perspective of privilege where it is not a special thing to have and there exist a lot of things that we take for granted which are actually clear-cut privileges for all of us. An inspiring and courageous part in the story was their decision to start with the taxi business, without anything or anyone to fall back on. It made me feel more connected to their struggle and their suffering as well.
Another more significant and useful part in the story was when they explained that they hung and kept Christian symbols in their taxis. They explained that they did so for protection and for the fear of facing slurs about their ethnicity, religion and country of origin. They also explained that they tried keeping a image of their Lebanese saint in the taxi, upon which they were questioned by several passengers as to why they kept an image of the Iranian leader Khomeinni with them and what had they to do with him. Even though it was an image of a Christian saint, they were still questioned about it because of the long beard depicted in the image. This entire description in the story was extremely moving and overwhelming for me because it brought forth the cultural, racist and religious prejudice prevalent in the society and also made me realise about the levels of acceptance and tolerance we have as an individual or as a society towards other religions, races and ethnicities. In the end, the brothers decided to stick to only western imagery of Christianity to be kept in the taxis. The story also talks about how Lebanese drivers were being murdered off and how dangerous it was to continue with the taxi driving business every-day. It made me realise how the prejudice , discrimination and intolerance runs deep in the society we live in and how difficult it was to overcome it and look beyond. Experiences like these, mentioned in the story made me shocked and made me focus in a different manner on my understandings about privilege, ability and race.
My way of listening to stories could include being responsive, while listening. Actively engaging with the flow and guidance of the story and observing intently to the important parts in the story. Responsive listening in itself can be used to develop a deeper understanding and intent in terms of culture and a variety of diversity as well. It helps develop a better approach to inclusive education as well in that, it helps in developing a culturally responsive teaching base. This helps in improving and developing an adequate pedagogical base for establishing inclusive education practice in the classrooms.
Also, if the story is listened to intently and with the intention of understanding and supporting the cultural, racial, ethnic and religious diversity, it will help in including that understanding in my practise of inclusive education as well. The description of inclusive education here supports the idea of inclusive practice and learning which is based on evidence. Responsive listening to students and their issues will help in bettering my engagement as a teacher with the students and help in collaborative planning and designing of specific, tailored strategies for different students based on their particular needs.
A major part of developing this listening practice into the inclusive practice base could include developing culturally responsive teaching methods. This could include creating environments and climates in the classroom that are more helpful and conductive for learning by diverse students in terms of ethnicity, race or culture. Incorporating responsive listening will help in improving my ability to interact and establish communicative relationships with the children belonging to diverse backgrounds and also help in understanding from where they are coming. Also, it will help in creating belonging for the diverse students by developing an understanding of their culture and their values and ethos as a different community. Responsive listening in terms of actively making sense of what is being told and developing responses will help in more cultural sensitisation and understanding of the identity of ethnically diverse students in the classroom. My approach of establishing social-emotional relationships while practicing responsive listening will help in developing a more responsive and building a more culturally sensitive environment. The story also taught me to understand and help in engaging with difference and diversity. Developing the same reflective and responsive listening skills in children will also help in increasing visibility of children’s practices of engagement with differences in their peers and fellow classmates. This will also help in development of an actual method of delivery of instruction that takes into cognizance the ethnical diversity in the classroom along with using multi-cultural ways of teaching as well. It will also help in developing collaborative relationships with the students along with the promotion of development of those collaborative relationships amongst the students as well.
This method of listening also helped me develop a way of using cultural scaffolding in the classrooms as a part of inclusive practice. It involves the idea of using own cultures, experiences to help in expansion of the intellectual horizons and academic achievements of the students. This method of listening aids in developing a culturally sensitive and culturally responsive learning approach. Also, responsive listening with children helps in developing ability to respond to students and children with special rights. My idea and ability of responsive listening includes being open to what the other person is saying, trying to sense the real and understand what is being said without adding own opinions or pre-conceived notions in the context. This will help in acknowledging what children have to say, especially coming from different backgrounds or children with special rights. The other aspect of my listening style would be to reconstruct what is being said and include my own experiences about what is being discussed, if there are any. This development of relation and relational understanding to what is being said will help in gaining trust of the student as well as help in forming relationships, especially with people from diverse backgrounds. This will help in practising inclusive education in a better way.
Also, being able to respond to what is being said after completely listening to what is being conveyed is also a part of my responsive listening style which helps in giving reassurance to the speaker that his/her words and thoughts have been conveyed and hold importance in your eyes. This helps in creation of identity and belonging in the students, irrespective of where they are coming from- an essential practice in inclusive education.Thus, the ability to listen actively and in a responsive manner helps in the improved development of the practise of inclusive education.
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