II Certificate Course, General Semantics and its Implications in Pedagogy, in collaboration with S. B. Gardi Department of English, Maharaja Krishnakumarsinhji Bhavnagar University, 27-31 August 2012.

Inauguration

 The overall objective of the Course was to impart the understanding of General Semantics as well as its implications in education and communication to the participants. The second Certificate Course, like the first one held in collaboration with H.M. Patel Institute of English Training and Research last year was mainly for students and young scholars who do not have much exposure to general semantics. The event provided a forum for participants to reflect on what general semantics really meant and also its important role in the context of pedagogy.  The Course enhanced the understanding of the participants on how general semantics really works in day to day life and in communication.  

Devkumar Trivedi

The Course was attended by the students of the Department of English, faculty members and resource persons. Participants were provided with course material comprising excerpts from works by Korzybski, Robert Pula, Neil Postman, and Paulo Freire. Professor P. C. Kar, Dr. Piyush Joshi, Devkumar Trivedi, and Dr. Bini B.S were some of the resource persons who actively interacted with the students regarding various concepts about general semantics such as time binding, critical pedagogy, consciousness of abstracting, conscientiousness, extensional thinking, etc.               

Two films were screened during the span of the week long seminar- 'To Sir with Love' and 'Rivers and Tides' (a documentary). Post film screening, brief discussions were held in the classroom. Most sessions were interactive where the participants were encouraged to express their ideas and opinions.  

Piyush Joshi

                After a week long discussion on general semantics and varied concepts that surround it, the final day had the participants making presentations on varied subjects based on the course material provided. The Course came to an end with the participants being awarded certificates. All in all, it was an extremely informative and insightful learning experience for the participants. The Course surely has opened the windows in a whole new direction for the participants to understand the educational discipline and to think as to how it can be suited to benefit one and all.

Dhvani Joshi                                                                                                       Research Scholar, Bhavnagar University

A Report from another Perspective  

A Course on General Semantics was jointly organized by Balvant Parekh Centre for General Semantics and Other Human Sciences and Maharaja Krishnakumar Sinhji Bhavnagar University Department of English in Bhavnagar from 27 to 31 August 2012. The course had four modules-  Basic Concepts of General Semantics,  Teaching and Time-binding, General Semantics and Similar Perspectives of Pedagogy I – Korzybski and Neil Postman on Education, and General Semantics and Similar Perspectives on Pedagogy II – Korzybski and Paulo Freire on Education

The Course was with the lighting of the lamp. The session was anchored by Prof. Dilip Barad. Prof. Sitanshu Yashaschandra delivered the inaugural address in which he explained in chaste Gujarati the key ideas of general semantics. Dr. H. L. Chavda, Dean of the Faculty of Arts in his presidential address appreciated the department and Balvant Parekh Cente for organizing this course.

In the presentation by Bini B. S., participants came to know about the fundamentals of General Semantics. She spoke on the historical context of general semantics and Alfred Korzybski, then discussed the basic concepts such as time-binding, map-territory analogy, consciousness of abstracting, structural differential and extensional devices. In the next session, Mr. Devkumar Trivedi shed light on general semantics, structures, behavior, how the nervous system functions and its practical implication in the individual and social life of a human being.

On the second day, Prof Piyush Joshi explained the basic differences between ‘epistemology’ and ‘ontology’ with examples, how art and science are interwoven, and dimensions of binding that determines the classes of life: Time Binding, Space Binding and Chemical Binding. He analyzed the link between the Past and Posterity, with examples from poems and literary writings, to illustrate the Korzybskian idea of time-binding.

In the interactive session with Devkumar Trivedi, there took place a detailed exploration of the deeper layers of general semantics through dialogue. Mr. Trivedi explained ‘mind’ and ‘patterns.’ Screening of To Sir with Love” the discussion which followed were fruitful learning experiences.

In the session on Neil Postman and Korzybski, Prof. Piyush Joshi explained Neil Postman’s “The End of Education” and extended his discussion to definitions, questions and metaphors. The session was an analysis of how definitions define us and how structures are constructed. He spoke on the deeper implications of ‘trusteeship’ and ‘posterity’ in education, bringing in Korzybskian perspectives.  He explained flux and phenomenon, static and frozen binary oppositions, the nuances of discourse and reality and phenomenon. In his next session, Dr. Joshi ruminated on the qualities of a good teacher and a bad teacher, and qualities of a good learner with reference to Neil Postman’s essay. The session followed with the screening of “Rivers and Tides”. How creativity is inborn in a human mind.

Dr. Bini B. S. explained select portions from Paula’s Guide for the Perplexed to elucidate certain key terms of general semantics. She elaborated on the links between pedagogy and time-binding. The session opened our eyes to cartography as a metaphor, evaluation, truth and truths, linguistics, process worlds, tabula rasa, and the difference between intention and extension. In her next lecture, she examined Paulo Freire’s ideas such as Education for critical consciousness, and the components of critical pedagogy such as inquiry, discussion, exchange, debate, and dialogue. She also looked at the difference between negative time-binding and positive time-binding and affirmed that critical pedagogy goes hand in hand with positive time binding.

Prof. Kar‘s lecture focused on Literature and General Semantics and was full of allusions from Hamlet and other plays of Shakespeare,  Romantic Poetry, works of Eliot, Yeats and American Writers.  He reflected on semantic reactions, importance of communication, text and context, absolute transparency of meanings and opacity of meanings, creativity and complexity, how cacophony and harmony work, delayed reactions, becoming a time-binder, the difference between “ thinking man” and “man thinking,” society, education, and much more, substantiating his views with interesting examples from literary works. His analysis of the Korzybskian idea of ‘delayed action’ with reference to the character of Hamlet was an enlightening experience.

The last day was totally a ‘Participant’s Day.’ The presentations spoke volumes about the enthusiasm of the participants, their grasp of the subject and the ability to use up-to-date technology to make their presentations effective and interesting. All students made presentations based on the texts provided. The Course Faculty appreciated the presentations and gave their feedback.

In the valedictory, participants thanked The Team Balvant Parekh Centre for General Semantics and Other Human Sciences, and Department of English Maharaja Krishnakumarsinhji Bhavnagar University for organizing such an important Course which drives away the clouds of darkness and enlightens the human spirit. We, the students of the university requested the Centre and the faculty, who taught us to delve deep into the recesses of our minds, to visit, organize, design and arrange such wonderful courses again.

Parth Bhatt, M.A Student, Department of English, Bhavnagar University