To understand how and why hearing loss happens, it helps to know how the ear works.
Hearing begins when sound waves that travel through the air reach the outer ear or pinna, which is the part of the ear you can see. The sound waves then travel from the pinna through the ear canal to the middle ear, which includes the eardrum (a thin layer of tissue) and three tiny bones called ossicles. When the eardrum vibrates, the ossicles amplify these vibrations and carry them to the inner ear.
The inner ear is made up of a snail-shaped chamber called the cochlea (pronounced: ko-klee-uh), which is filled with fluid and lined with thousands of tiny hair cells (outer and inner rows). When the vibrations move through this fluid, the tiny hair cells translate them into electrical nerve impulses and send them to the auditory nerve, which connects the inner ear to the brain. When these nerve impulses reach the brain, they are interpreted as sound. The cochlea is like a piano in that specific areas along the length of the cochlea pick up gradually higher pitches.
This may seem like a long process, but it happens almost instantly. The phone rings and you automatically pick it up. You hear a question and immediately respond to it. But in reality, every time you hear a sound, the various structures of the ear have to work together to make sure the information gets to your brain.
A relationship is the outcome of a series of interactions. You cannot create an instant relationship – it has to develop over time. The process of forming relationships with students who exhibit challenging behaviour will involve a number of tests. It is how consistently and reliably they respond to these tests that will ultimately decide what sort of relationship results.
Social animals, from ants to humans, live in complicated social worlds. They need to know where they fit in. A number of studies have shown that most social groups are hierarchical with a definite established “pecking order”. An experiment conducted on Jays showed that these birds could remember 160 other birds and knew where each one was in the pecking order. In some shoals of fish the leader is easy to identify as it is a different colour. When experimenters removed the leader it only took half an hour for another fish to change colour and take over the role.
Staff often complain about the behaviour of a small number of students, believing that if only those students could be removed all their problems would be solved. They are always disappointed. Experienced staff know that this does not actually work in practice. What actually happens whenever students leave, for whatever reason, is that other students step into the role and begin to exhibit the same old behaviours. Managers discover that a similar process applies to staff!
A college is a social system which is governed by a number of interweaving relationships. Staff and students are involved in this system. There are a number of different aspects to every relationship but there are two particularly important points to remember in behaviour management.
- The need for us all to bond as a part of a social group
- The pecking order within that social group