“A Wild and Precious Perspective on Listening”
Jane Pepe, firstname.lastname@example.org
The description of the film Teen Press at a local film festival was intriguing:
“When revolutions are at hand, be they cultural, technological or political, the change-makers often come in surprising shapes and sizes. Teen Press introduces us to eight fairly typical middle school kids doing something remarkable. Inspired by a charismatic teacher, they are learning the ins-and-outs of journalism, and focusing their inquiry on what kind of world they will be inheriting.”
Along with the film, teacher John Boettner and some of his students attended the festival.
The relevance and impact was immediate and powerful: A story about students learning and practicing the principles and skills of qualitative research and, in the process, becoming confident, thoughtful, respectful young people.
Fast forward to the 2017 QRCA Annual Conference. Teen Press, along with a presentation from John, and a Q&A with two of his students, was the keynote session.
Teen Press was created in the Santa Barbara Middle School, by two teachers whose vision was to teach young people how to find and elicit stories, discover what others had to say, and how to listen.
Teen Press believes a successful interview is the result of knowing their subject, establishing a connection, and demonstrating care.
Students learn how to research their subjects, write and practice questions, listen for answers and develop follow-ups. They learn to master a proper introduction, a handshake and direct eye contact.
First interviews were with well-known entertainment personalities. The scope widened to include people in business, government and beyond. What started as one or two questions for film actors on the red carpet evolved into hour-long in-depth interviews with people from all walks of life, conducted by eleven and twelve-year-olds.
Following John’s presentation, the film highlighted the importance of:
- Asking questions that make people human.
- Recognizing that a long pause is part of the answer.
- Using shared experiences.
- Keeping in mind the interaction is less an interview and more a conversation.
- Being present in the moment of storytelling.
- Remembering that listening is about sincerity and a desire to connect.
In a follow-up heartfelt email, John voiced his appreciation for the opportunity to be part of the conference:
“I can’t begin to thank you for inviting Teen Press to your conference. What at first seemed rather strange matchmaking became heavenly alignment for the kids and me. I have so many stories that I have told of your conference since. Words [that] have found their way to my mailbox...continue to convince me that Teen Press provides inspiration and a path towards more of us looking up and connecting in meaningful ways...”
Many of the Teen Press interviews are posted on YouTube.
To learn about Teen Press, visit www.teenpress.org, and contact John Boettner, Chief Enchantment Officer email@example.com.
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