Using General Semantics as the Theoretical Foundation for Teaching Media Literacy
Terese Brecklin and Gregg Hoffmann
For the past two years, a rather unique program has been developing at Brown Deer Middle School in the northern suburbs of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
A media literacy program, based on general semantics, started as a pilot program in the 1993-94 school year and was developed extensively through the school's Artist-in-Education program during the 1994-95 year, as we write this paper, we hope yet another stage of the program is in place by the time of the conference. * In this paper, we lay out how general semantics provided the foundation for the program. Then, we acquaint you with some of the classroom techniques that have been used to convey the ideas.
The map and territory analogy, and the abstracting process, have been the essential elements in the foundation for the program. General semantics has been applied to media messages by several people over the years. Hayakawa wrote about journalism and advertising in some of his works.
Earl English of the University of Missouri and John Merrill have written about general semantics in some of their academic analyses of news. Neil Postman used general semantics as a foundation for his media ecology program at New York University. Others have used general semantics in their media work.
In Media Maps and Myths, I ( Gregg Hoffmann) targeted a similar audience--working journalists, academic media scholars, my own students at the University of Wisconsin--Milwaukee. 1 General semantics and critical____________________