Getting attention and paying attention are two sides of the same coin, both of which are huge issues in our classrooms and society. One thing I know for sure – we all have a basic human need to be heard and seen.
I remember vividly, last year, in route to some presentation, recognizing a man sitting in front of me on the plane. I had been a fan of his music since college, so when we landed, I struck up a conversation. [Surprised?] We talked about our Cajun roots, love for Louisiana, and good music. Upon exiting the plane, the flight attendant asked me who he was. When I said, “Harry Connick Jr.” there was an audible gasp, at which point people’s faces lighted up, and one man said, “Oh, now I see it.” I remember thinking, “How nice would it be if everyone were ‘recognized’ or at the very least, acknowledged so positively?”
There is a greeting shared in the South African culture which seems to echo this theme. The first part is when a person approaches and says, “Sikhona”, which means “I am hear to be seen.” The response is “Sawubona”, which means “I see you.” As I understand it, strong eye contact is part of this ritual, which strengthens the sentiment.
I wonder how many children [and adults] in our society are screaming “Sikohna”? I also wonder what I can do each and every day to make sure my response is one that is based in understanding and empathy? Perhaps this is the first step in helping all of us get our basic need of attention met. Sawubona – I see you.