“A New Kind of Listening is a rare film that deepens our understanding of what it means to be human and that compels us to widen the circle so that we learn from and with a rich variety of humans with whom we inhabit this earth. Clearly, this film will be instructive and supportive in many learning and community contexts, including for practicing education, medical and human service professionals, pre-service and graduate programs for teachers, social workers, school psychologists, Allied Arts teachers, community education programs and many others.”
~ Jennifer York-Barr, Ph.D., Professor, Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development, Academy of Distinguished Teachers, U. of Minnesota
Rationale and goals for including the film A New Kind of Listening and related experiential learning projects in the curriculum for social work, inclusive ed. and community resources classes at the university or graduate school level:
Students who see and discuss A New Kind of Listening, and participate in the related learning experiences, will have a foundation of practical ideas and skills for building more inclusive communities.
They will be able to identify and engage community stakeholders and organizational resources to create innovative programs. The knowledge gained will readily transfer to working with diverse marginalized or underserved populations, (e.g., people with mental illness, traumatic brain injury, substance abuse problems, veterans, the elderly, children, and others).
Community arts projects and classes help meet new Home and Community-based Services regulations recently released by the Centers for Medicaid & Medicare which significantly raise the requirements for community integration, and will impact services across the country over the next decade . Concrete tools and ideas for inclusive community initiatives will be a valuable asset for social workers and supports coordinators/case managers.
Using our website and Organizer’s Toolkit as a source of information, and the simulation, forum, and inclusive arts experiences outlined below, students will identify actual community resources, and learn how to use these to create positive change which supports friendships and expanded potential for individuals with disabilities.
After showing the film, (with discussion questions which follow), here are three experiential learning exercises which meet the goals described above :
Using information from our Organizer’s Toolkit, and detailed assignments of roles and meeting agenda, students will role-play a stakeholders meeting which brings together the disability advocacy community, arts community and faith community to organize for a screening event and brainstorm about a possible inclusive arts project. The simulated community meeting gives students a valuable and practical learning experience for their future service work.
2. Community Resources Forum:
Students research organizations, services and projects in the local community, and invite representatives to an information forum during the class or at another place/time. Each representative describes the work of their organization or project, and answers questions from the students. The forum could be focussed on disability advocacy, or include an array of community programs for social entrepreneurship, services and supports, cultural diversity, education, employment and the arts.
3. Arts for All workshop
Partnering with arts and disability community leaders identified in the previous learning experiences, members of the class organize and publicize an “Arts for All” day or evening event which would offer inclusive arts activities (e.g. visual arts, theater improv, movement, drumming circles) — perhaps as part of a local monthly arts walk.
A New Kind of Listening
Here are suggestions to stimulate “a new way of thinking” prior to screening the film. You may also create your own questions to guide pre-screening discussion.
1. When you hear the word ‘disability’, what comes to mind?
2. Can you share experiences you’ve had working with, learning with, and/or living with other students with disabilities?
3. Have you felt excluded or misunderstood because of your ethnicity, ability, age, gender, sexual orientation, or other personal trait or quality?
4. Have you ever experienced how a collaborative arts project creates friendships, playfulness, and a strong sense of community? (for example, a play, a band, or a group art project?)
A New Kind of Listening
The questions below are designed to help students generalize their specific impressions and changes in perspective after viewing the film. We’ve also provided some additional questions and ideas for special ed. or inclusive ed. students.
1. How did the film change the way you see people with disabilities?
2. What are the core messages of A New Kind of Listening?
3. Historically, our society has viewed people with disabilities as needing to be cured or fixed. Have you ever considered that disability is a natural part of human diversity, just as gender, race or sexual orientation are? Discuss the implications of this shift in perspective.
4. Can you give examples of how inclusion is working—or not—in your school or university community? What are some possible solutions?
5. The film shows one example of how the arts can create more inclusive communities. Can you think of other types of arts-based projects that could promote inclusion?
6. What is one concrete action you can take to promote a more inclusive community?
Additional questions for inclusive ed. or special ed. students:
1. Do you think all school-age pupils have the right to express themselves, (e.g., have a functional means of communication); have peer relationships, and participate in regular classrooms and the larger community?
2. Research and discuss the teacher education concept of the “least dangerous assumption”. How could this teaching principle have changed Chris’ school/life experience in the film? Read the article “Tell the World” in the blog archive of A New Kind of Listening’s website.
“A New Kind of Listening is a unique media resource that I recommend to university professors teaching theatre education and community arts courses. Protecting and nurturing human diversity in all its forms is essential to creating just and sustainable communities. This film demonstrates that listening is more than something we do with our ears but with our hearts and hands. I know it has motivated me and my students to make choices that keep us open to all the creative potential in our classrooms.”
~ Lise Kloeppel, Assistant Professor of Drama, UNC-Asheville
“A New Kind of Listening is a memorable demonstration of the possibilities for community inclusion. I was moved by the social connections and meaningful interactions between the group members with and without disabilities. I recommend this film as a media resource for those in the arts and education.”
~ Zachary S. Rossetti, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Special Education Program, Boston U.