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I blog on Brain-Based Learning, Metacognition, EdTech, and Social-Emotional Learning. I am the author of the Crush School Series of Books, which help students understand how their brains process information and learn. I also wrote The Power of Three: How to Simplify Your Life to Amplify Your Personal and Professional Success, but be warned that it's meant for adults who want to thrive and are comfortable with four letter words.

Listening Is A Skill Students Lack Because We Don't Teach It. Let's!

 Listening consciously, listening is a skill
Listening Consciously Is A Doorway To Understanding
— Julian Treasure

We are taught to read and write in school, but not educated on how to listen. Not really. Not deliberately.

We're constantly told to listen, but we're not shown how to do it. I wonder how often and how many teachers assume students know how to listen but just choose not to?

However the (non) listening problem is deeper than students just choosing not to listen. Sure enough some do, but many just don't know how to listen, because schools don't treat listening as a teachable skill. As a result the listening skill of many students and later adults is poorly developed.

Fortunately, listening can be improved with a little know how and practice.

This is what this post is about.

There are two ways I recently learned about but upon closer examination they're essentially the same. It makes sense as the elements of good listening are the same regardless of who, what, and where.

I recently listened to a podcast featuring Julian Treasure, a positive noise expert who has delivered a couple of Ted Talks including 5 Ways to Listen Better.

Listening As A Skill

Our personal and professional success depends on how well we can absorb, connect, and apply information and how well we can connect with and understand others. Thus, listening is an essential skill at school, work, and in relationships.

On this podcast, Julian Treasure used the acronym RASA, which stands for Receive, Appreciate, Summarize, and Ask to explain how to develop the listening skill. 


Receiving is all about listening 100% without doing anything else. This involves single tasking, focusing on the speaker's verbal and non-verbal cues, and maintaining eye contact.


To appreciate is to consciously put value on what the other person is saying and setting the intention to learn from him or her. If you tell your mind This is good stuff! it will be and you will benefit.


Summarizing involves taking the other person‘s words and restating the key points using your own so it's easier to recall and use the information later. This can be done in your head or on paper.


Asking questions during the conversation or presentation helps understanding and keeps you engaged with the speaker. Asking follow up questions helps with retention of content and furthers understanding and the ability to use the information properly.

Listening Is A Conscious Activity

Listening is a conscious activity, but most people do not see it as such. Often, we just approach it as something that happens to us and so we miss the point. We are distracted, multitask, and fail to connect to the speaker and the information she conveys. Just think of all the times you had a conversation with a friend or a loved one while browsing on your phone or tablet.

This is why it’s important to teach listening as a skill and as an active endeavor. It is important for our students to become conscious of the fact that they are doing something when they are listening. Listening is not a passive thing that happens to them. Let's tell them that and teach them to listen with intention. Then, let's allow them to practice and become better at it. 

I wrote an article about this in the past and while in it I use an acronym HEAR to teach active listening the information leads to the same outcome: Developing the Active Listening Skill.

But whether you use RASA or HEAR or something else doesn't matter. What matters is that we teach our kids to listen well.

You have the power to change lives. Use it often so they can change the world.


I frequently share brain-based teaching and learning strategies, lessons, and brain-related infographics. Sign up for my newsletter below to receive them when I post them.

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Hi! I'm Oskar.          

I teach, write, speak, rant to make the world better.



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