We, the Terrible Listeners

Louis Petrich + Howard Zeiderman

Why is it difficult for people to talk to one another? Annapolis tutor Howard Zeiderman proposes a likely culprit: the difficulty that most humans have with listening. In this episode, Zeiderman joins host Louis Petrich to discuss the importance of learning to hear and understand the language of those who are unlike us, of supporting quieter and less represented voices in conversation, and of building true community through the committed practice of listening. The two explore the value of listening through the lens of the college, which cultivates the practice in seminar, and through the lens of America, where polarization has caused a dangerous breakdown in communication.

In this Episode

  • Howard Zeiderman
    Guest Howard Zeiderman

    Howard Zeiderman (A67) is a tutor emeritus at St. John’s College.

  • Host Louis Petrich

    Louis Petrich is a tutor at St. John’s College. This semester, he is exploring Euripides in freshman seminar, teaching Pascal in freshman laboratory, and leading a philosophy and theology tutorial in the Graduate Institute.

Featured Release

The power and beauty of Homer’s imagery in the Iliad is undeniable, and his scenes of battle often prompt vexing questions about ancient and modern virtues. Can killing and dying in war be beautiful? Is a just cause required for glory to be gained? Is war a courageous way of fulfilling human nature and, ultimately, of embracing the reality that death awaits us all? This episode, in which Annapolis host Louis Petrich and tutor Erica Beall delve into the dramatic contrasts that make Homer’s work powerful and war potentially beautiful, invites us to question our own modern perspectives on this ancient text.

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Executive Producers Welcome

Continuing the Conversation was funded through the philanthropy of donors to St. John’s College. If you’d like to give to the college’s Annual Fund, your gift will go to support the kinds of inquiry and conversation that comes to life at St. John’s College. It also frees up money for creative projects like this one, which brings great conversation and great books into homes across the world.


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St. John’s College invites the community to awaken their intellect by engaging in mindful exploration. The college offers an array of online and in-person events, ranging from world-class concerts and art exhibitions to lectures and theater performances, as well as tutor-led seminars that provide lifelong learners opportunities to study the Great Books.

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