General Semantics at the National Council of Teachers of English Annual Convention

Article excerpt

Gregg Hoffmann, Andrea Johnson, Katherine liepe-Levinson and Steve Stockdale represented general semantics at the annual convention for the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) held in San Francisco November 21-23, 2003. They presented a 75-minute panel session entitled, "General Semantics and Critical Literacy: Interdisciplinary Approaches That Enable Students to Become Better Problem-Solvers and Critical Thinkers."

The handouts associated with the session and the corresponding PowerPoint presentations are available on the Institute of General Semantics website, www.general-semantics.org.

The Institute also sponsored a booth in the exhibit hall, ably staffed by Gregg, Andrea, Kathy and Steve. Steve estimates that 250-300 visitors stopped by the booth or picked up materials, including the new IGS brochures, bookmarks, presentation handouts, complimentary copies of ETC and the CD from the recent Las Vegas GS conference, and (most surprisingly) Mardi Gras beads left over from the conference. The topic that generated the most booth discussion related to media literacy, with teachers from 6th grade to college expressing interest, particularly in the ISGS-published workbook, Mapping the Media prepared by Gregg Hoffmann and Paul D. Johnston. Six people joined the Institute at the convention and over fifty others signed up to receive more information.

Although few NCTE visitors knew of the connections, two prominent figures at the convention have direct links to general semantics. Keynote speaker Robert MacNeil, formerly half of the popular PBS "NewsHour" program with Jim Lehrer (the "MacNeil-Lehrer Report"), wrote the introduction to the Fifth Edition of Hayakawa's Language in Thought and Action.

MacNeil was introduced by Richard W. Bailey, the Fred Newton Scott Collegiate Professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Michigan. Dr. Bailey worked closely with Alien Walker Read, Honorary Trustee of the Institute, editing and writing the introduction to the collection of Alien's articles, Milestones in the History of English in America. …