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Listening for Learning

Performing a Pedagogy of Sound and Listening

Chris McRae

Whoosh, crunch, buzz, inhale, exhale . . . Listening for Learning: Performing a Pedagogy of Sound and Listening presents sound, listening, and pedagogical interactions as performances that create relationships, ways of being and knowing, and that provide an opportunity for transformations of existing and taken-for-granted practices in the classroom. By using performative listening and performative writing this book presents fragments of sound and listening as sites of learning and knowledge production. The written fragments throughout this book are offered as performances that listen for and hear sound as a central feature to educational practices in terms of bodies, classrooms, and pedagogy. The goal in sharing this performance of listening is to create opportunities for recognition, to invite further listening in educational contexts, and to employ listening as an opportunity for transforming and re-imagining educational spaces and interactions.

“I have listened to this book—an extraordinary claim to make, an extraordinary way to feel, yet I have listened to this book because Chris McRae offers here the extraordinary opportunity to listen to his book. He accomplishes this through interlacing sensorily rich poetry and academically resonant prose, and most importantly through engaging readers with openness and curiosity and a striving to attune to us. What we need right now, when learning, when teaching, when performing, and above all when listening is practice in slowing way, way down; practice in taking more in; practice in allowing our world to move through us so that we might move through it with more care and compassion. McRae models in this outstanding book how we might learn together to listen slowly and inquisitively, with the care that sound and pedagogy need, and above all with the compassion that one another deserve.”—Keith Nainby, Professor of Communication Studies, California State University, Stanislaus

“Spending over two decades listening to and learning from scholars who approach the world of human communication in distinct ways is one of the many blessings of my academic life. Among the most instructive have been performance scholars who merge the interpretive turn and a critical reflexivity with uncommon flair and grace. With Listening for Learning, I am reminded of the ways of teaching, of learning, and of listening that I struggled to understand as a newly minted Assistant Professor. My performance colleagues engaged in scholarly and pedagogical practices that took seriously the embodied nature of experience, something that I knew at an intellectual level but had never fully grasped phenomenologically. McRae eloquently weaves together research and his own classroom practices with sustained attention to the role of sound and soundscapes, the situatedness of listening, and the possibilities enabled when we attune to others. The book is an excellent deep dive into how we might approach learning (either as teachers or students) in a manner that takes listening seriously. It puts the generative nature of listening, communication, and performance front-and-center, providing a truly novel contribution to the field.”—Graham Bodie, Professor of Integrated Marketing Communication, The University of Mississippi