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Listen to me

Hunt, G. (1969). Listen to me. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

OVERVIEW

Knight attempts understand the heart and mind of college students. She delicately relays their psychological, emotional, spiritual, and social attempts to make sense out their life questions and college experiences. To create this work, she simply listened to students. Her book contains eight chapters, one chapter for each of eight students to which she listened, and each chapter is named after the students.

QUOTES

I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant. (p. 5)

I’m tired of listening to myself, of being an adolescent rebel, tired of rebelling against my parents. I feel myself growing up, yet I’m still such a kid about my parents. (p. 31)

How do you get an older person to see where you are so he can speak to your situation? Who takes the time to bridge the gaps which exist? I think the older person, who is supposed to have a wider experience and greater maturity, must make the effort, but sometimes wishing for this seems so futile. (p. 34)

I’m sure my response to authority—all authority—is colored by my reaction against my parents. God’s authority. Human authority. It sets an emotional response. Flee before you’re closed in. I realize this is not an intellectual reaction. Maybe as I mature I’ll change, but right now I’m still hung up on this kind of overreaction. (p. 34)

Has all this made me afraid of life? I don’t know. I’m excited about life really. I love it, but maybe I’m a little afraid. Maybe afraid of making a mistake. Afraid there might be a God to reckon with. Somehow I have to buy the idea of living by faith to some degree. I get really ticked off when people talk so smugly about knowing the will of God, like they have some kind of inside track...Maybe this is because I’m still struggling over my relationship with God. (p. 35)

In our educational system there are many problems that need to be wrestled with if we are to handle the next years wisely. I would like to be in on a complete reorganization of our educational system. At present it is deadening. We really don’t know where we are going. (p. 36)

...the middle class is so self-satisfied and decadent. (p. 37)

Recurring words and themes: relevant, meaningful, identity, alienation...feeling, justice, love, change, the people, vested interests, the Establishment, the system, freedom. (p. 60)

Knight says that most students have been influenced by Herbert Marcuse. (He) argues that individuals are dominated and manipulated by big institutions and business, and that man has the obligation to oppose them. (p. 162)

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION AND DISCUSSION

  1. Is there a difference between what the students want to do and what they feel they should do?
  2. What does it mean to listen to a student?
  3. Is listening enough?
  4. What is the relationship between listening and effectiveness in youth work?
  5. How can one close the gap between what students say and what adults hear?

IMPLICATIONS

  1. Students need to be treated like real people—not object lessons, statistics, or projects.
  2. Students ache for someone to listen to them and try to hear what they are really saying.
  3. The value of relationships is essential in this situation. The college-age person is branching out (really) for the first time alone in an extended situation. His or her whole being needs care from a significant other adult who will listen and ‘try’ to understand them. This is a major stepping stone in building a student’s life.
Dale S. Westervelt cCYS