Generative Attention

Submitted By:
Meghan Tally, The Archer School for Girls, Los Angeles

"Let me finish: how to stop interrupting… and change the world" by Nancy Kline
The Guardian, October 24, 2020

"Polarization is not a result of disagreement. It is a result of disconnection." This text by Nancy Kline offers a new and alternative explanation for our current national and global struggle—and a new and alternative antidote. Excerpted from her recent book, The Promise That Changes Everything: I Won't Interrupt You, Kline's article calls for a paradigm shift in our way of being. Inviting us to consider the shocking prevalence of interruption in politics, the workplace, and our personal relationships, Kline proposes a "sustaining of generative attention" in its place. Relatedly, in her recent book, You're Not Listening: What You're Missing and Why It Matters, reviewed in the March 2020 Klingbrief, Kate Murphy investigates what she sees as a crisis of listening in our world and how we're all suffering for lack of real listening and being listened to. Listening, misunderstood as weaker than talking, Murphy argues, is the antidote to our political and social woes. She details what we're losing and missing as well as what we have to gain: curiosity, discovery, and connection. Much has been said and written about listening, of course, yet Kline's and Murphy's texts offer some surprises, fresh insights, and new syntheses of present dilemmas. Though this thought-provoking article and book are not explicitly about education, they couldn't be more relevant for educators or anyone interested in learning.

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