General semantics has long been concerned with the uses, misuses, and abuses of language. As the primary form of human symbolic communication, language is a tool through which we learn about our environment, make sense of our surroundings, evaluate and act upon our world. Language is the foundation of human intelligence and time-binding, our capacity for learning, both individually and collectively.
The processes of learning and education are also among our most central concerns. Over the years, leading educationists such as Neil Postman, Ashley Montagu, and Jerome Bruner have been associated with general semantics. And that should come as no surprise since general semantics represents an educational movement in its own right, one devoted to incorporating the benefits of the scientific method to human relations, improving our methods of evaluation and understanding, and maximizing human potential.
Early in the 20th century, play was recognized as an important part of our learning processes, one that is closely connected to our capacity for symbol use, language learning, and cognitive and emotional development. The role of play and creativity in education has gained increasingly greater emphasis in recent decades, along with greater interest in the interactions and interdependencies among speech and language, literacy and media, and art and play, as they all relate to learning.
On our December 6th program, our panelists discussed the relationships between play, learning, and language, and these related topics. The participants were:
Robert Albrecht, Professor of Media Arts at New Jersey City University, author of Mediating the Muse: A Communications Approach to Music, Media, and Cultural Change (2004), and a musician and songwriter, his two CDs are A Tale of Two Cities (2012), consisting of original songs about Jersey City and Hoboken, andSong of the Poet (2008), consisting of poems by Walt Whitman, Edgar Allen Poe, and others set to music. He is currently co-authoring a book tentatively entitled, The Arts as Pedagogy in the Age of Digital Technology: Teaching as a Creative Activity.
Margaret M. Cassidy, Professor and Chair of Communications at Adelphi University and Past President of the New York State Communication Association, author of BookEnds: The Changing Media Environment of American Classrooms (2004), and the recently published Children, Media, and American History: Printed Poison, Pernicious Stuff, and Other Terrible Temptations (2017).
Michael Plugh, Professor of Communication at Manhattan College, Immediate Past President of the New York State Communication Association, Internet Officer and Executive Board member of the Media Ecology Association, and member of the New York Society for General Semantics Board of Directors, currently researching innovative initiatives in schooling.
The discussion was moderated by Lance Strate, Professor of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University, Past President of the New York State Communication Association, Editor of Explorations in Media Ecology and Executive Board member of the Media Ecology Association, member of the Board of Trustees of the Institute of General Semantics, President of the New York Society for General Semantics, author of several books including Media Ecology: An Approach to Understanding the Human Condition (2017), and On the Binding Biases of Time and Other Essays on General Semantics and Media Ecology (2011), and co-author of several anthologies including Taking Up McLuhan's Cause: Perspectives on Media and Formal Causality(2017) and Korzybski And... (2012).
It was a program that was most certainly elucidating and enlightening!