4 Reasons to Shut Up in Class: Learning by Listening

4 Reasons to Shut Up in Class: Learning by Listening

You sick, selfish, SOB. STOP TALKING SO MUCH IN YOUR COLLABORATIVE LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS! Sorry for the harsh words, but many artists are missing out on passive benefits of listening.

Hey, I get it. You joined a course of workshop to improve YOUR skills, so it doesn’t matter if you space out or disengage while the discussion turns to someone else’s unrelated project.

PSYCH! It does matter. Fooled you. Maybe if you listened better, you could use context to anticipate where this conversation was going. Listening is absolutely essential to learning. And it’s NOT just about the critiques about your individual work. By actively listening to discussion and feedback on other artists’ work, you can grow exponentially as an artist, professional, and person.

Know the Stats

Immediately after listening to a 10-minute speech…we’re talking a light TEDTalk over here…the average listener will have only heard, understood, and remember 50% of the content (University of Michigan).

That’s immediately afterward! Think about 15 minutes later after you check your phone and get a snack and I don’t know if it’s after 5:00 pm I supposed you could make a drink. Maybe a cold G&T or get some rum in there. Add some kind of pineapple to that mix. A nice refreshing flavor that’s SEE? YOU DON’T EVEN REMEMBER WHAT I WAS SAYING! FOCUS!

Even though your listening skills are lacking, the average person talks at a rate of 225 words per minute (lifehack). Unless of course, you’re in an Aaron Sorkin film or show. That’s closer to 600.

In general, we tend to output more than we input. In a workshop setting, this leads to a lot of missed learning opportunities. Now, I’m not saying don’t speak. Don’t be weird about it. But you need to value the information in conversation even when it’s not directly related to you. Here’s why.

1. Avoid Mistakes

The same goes for shortcuts and efficiency. Even though another student or participant may have a completely different style than you, you will likely use the same workflow information if you’re in the same course. Unless someone is hard surface modeling and someone else is illustrating- but that seems like a strange set up for a course.

2. Build Community

Listening is respectful. When someone is talking to you and you’re disengaged, they can tell. Eye response, body language, and fidgeting are all physical cues that show just how little you’re listening. AKA, you’re not being sneaky (Business Insider).

By showing you are willing to give 100% of your attention to someone else’s work, you increase the chance of them returning the same enthusiasm regarding your work. Now imagine an entire room of people who are completely engaged on one project at a time. Not only does this improve the conversation, but it improves the sense of community.

Game Artist Jose Moreno
3. Different Styles Introduce Different Techniques

One reason you may think it’s acceptable to space out while the instructor is answering someone else’s question is because that person has a different style or approach than you. Look, even if you personally don’t like what they’re doing OR it seems irrelevant to your end of a production pipeline, you can still learn from them.

If you’re in a rigging class and someone else is bringing in an animation perspective, that makes them MORE important to listen to, not less. They can teach you something completely new that will inform your overall knowledge. Or, you might discover a technique you want to try out. Maybe their character art style is different, but you like the way they draw noses. Maybe you see matte painters use a technique that you want to add to your illustration skills.

4. Steal, Beg and Borrow

Okay, do NOT steal from artists. Not only are there laws against this, it’s extremely not cool and we’ll all judge you a lot.

HOWEVERRRR, borrowing new perspectives and ideas is on the table. Perhaps you heard or saw something that jogged your brain for a personal project. As long as it’s not copying exactly what they did, you can let their influence guide your work!

If you think you’re getting too close to copying, try asking them for permission to try what you’re trying. Or suggest collaborating!

Listening to others always leads to new opportunities. So seriously. Shut up.

Here are our sources (so you know we aren’t lying to you).




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