On pretending to listen

Nicholas C. Burbules, Suzanne Rice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background/Context: This article is part of a series of studies carried out by the authors in this special issue on the general topic of listening and its specific relevance to teaching. Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study: We examine the common activity of pretending to listen and argue that thinking about it carefully reveals some important insights into the practice of listening more generally. Then we turn to the question of pretending to listen in the context of teaching. Research Design: This is a conceptual and normative study drawing from relevant philosophical literatures. Conclusions/ Recommendations: A romanticized view of listening suggests some kind of totally encompassing focus and understanding: The good listener is hearing everything understanding everything blessed with profound insight and infinite patience. Having set up this ideal type, however, we then judge every deviation from this perfect model as a moral failing. This way of thinking about moral conduct, we conclude, is often misleading and counterproductive.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2874-2888
Number of pages15
JournalTeachers College Record
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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