I never get tired of promoting this wonderful opportunity for students (and educators) to practice the compassionate, educational, soul-healing art of truly listening to the people we love. Some stories they share are funny; others are heartbreaking. It means so much for those in our lives to speak their truths, and it means just as much for us to hear what they have to say.
The Great Thanksgiving Listen began two years ago and it’s grown in popularity ever since. This project is part of the nonprofit organization StoryCorps, which has given more than 400,000 people the chance to record interviews about their lives and foster a culture of listening in this country.
Interviews recorded through The Great Listen become part of the StoryCorps Archive at the Library of Congress’s American Folklife Center. For students, the interviews can be part of a learning experience that piques their curiosity and desire to learn more about a particular issue or era. Their interviews can even inspire an idea or interest that becomes a lifelong passion.
Thousands of high school students in every state have participated in The Great Listen since 2015, recording more than 75,000 interviews.
Participants can use the free StoryCorps App to have stories become part of the archive, or if the stories are simply for the family to enjoy, a good old-fashioned tape recorder will do just fine. (But don’t forget the batteries!) An online toolkit and materials are available for educators to explain the project to students, offer tips for conducting an interview, and suggest good interview questions. Printable materials, including “Recipes for Success on Interview Day,” are also available, too. There’s also a list of questions to help students examine how their interviews went.
Encourage your students to participate—or take part in the Great Thanksgiving Listen yourselves—to keep family stories alive. If you’re interested in a good cry, a hearty laugh, or both, check out some of the interviews here.
And in between all that talking and listening, have a happy, safe, and restful Thanksgiving!