Listening can be educational

Published 8:28 pm Friday, January 15, 2010

Last week, I had the honor to interview Gwyn Turner, Burnquetta Johnson and Kayte Melton for articles for our upcoming issue of Pink magazine.

Ms. Johnson and Mrs. Melton were my teachers when I went to school here — Ms. Johnson was my sixth-grade math teacher and Mrs. Melton was my ninth-grade English teacher.

I say it was my honor because all three of them are teachers in a way. Many people younger than I would think that listening to older people is a waste of time, that they can’t relate to the issues of the here and now. They couldn’t be more wrong.

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All three of these ladies spoke at length about the history of Demopolis. They discussed the sesquicentennial of Demopolis in 1967, our downtown business district — once a bustling, busy economic hub for this town not so long ago — and we talked about other issues, such as integration, the economy, the past and, of course, the future.

“Old” or “older” doesn’t mean “senile” or “feeble-minded.” There are libraries of information to be found in spending a few minutes talking to someone with more lifetime experiences than oneself.

Listening to one person’s ideas lead to even better ideas, and learning from the past makes one more prepared for an uncertain future.

If you have the chance, ask someone older about some of the things they’ve seen or heard. Ask them what school was like or what life was like when they were your age. It’s hard to learn something while you’re talking, but so easy to learn something when you listen.

I’m not saying this because my biological clock on the wall is going just flipped another year for me last Monday. I really feel that I gained a lot in just a few minutes of listening and discussing things with people who were my teachers and mentors when I was younger and can still teach me a thing or two today.

Make some time to hear from someone who has been around the block a few more times than you. I can guarantee you that it’s time well spent.

David B. Snow is the managing editor of The Demopolis Times.