A third excerpt from What Do I Do Monday? by John Holt
We must pay attention, not just to what we are saying, but to the one to whom we are saying it. Is he getting from our words the meaning we wanted to convey? If not, we have to find other words, find out as much as we can about the connections between his words and his meanings, so that we may better know what words to use to get our meanings over to him.
In short, there can be no real talking without listening. The bad writers of whom I have spoken, the experts, intellectuals, academics, may be epressing themselves as honestly as they can, but they write badly because they are only expressing themselves. They do not care whether we, who hear them, grasp their meanings. Many of them think, and sometimes say, "If you do not understand me, it is because you are too ignorant or stupid; I will not struggle to understand the source of your misunderstanding, or to speak in words meaningful to you." Of course there are notable exceptions, men like Bertrand Russell, true philosophers, who because they work hard at it can put difficult ideas into words that a great many people can understand.
The two people I talk to the most are probably my mate and my Mom. The conversations we have range from light and entertaining to really deep philosophical discussions, political, personal, etc... Having conversations that cover more than standard water cooler topics like "who is banging who" and "who is getting the next promotion" has been vital to preventing my own mental stagnation. Because, let me tell you, being a stay-at-home homeschooling Mommy is a guaranteed recipe for tapioca brain.