Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Topic: The 21st Century Viewed from 1974

10-second review: Even if print is dead, we must recognize that all methods of communication will likely have the same problems.

Title: “Presidential Address.” Walker Gibson. English Journal (May 1974), 8-10. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Comment: I thought it would be interesting in the twenty-first century to see how the president of the NCTE in 1974 foresaw what was likely to happen in English in the twenty-first century. RayS.

Quote: “The twenty-first century, of course, is indeed blank on the chart, but we can say that in that century the processes of communication are not going to get any simpler We can safely bet that one criterion for survival or success will be a capacity to change symbol systems, to invent new ones and adapt old ones for unpredictable situations. The print medium may be dead, for all I know—so be it. But what we tell our students today, about any medium of communication, is sure to be of use if it can be applied to any other medium of communication. As I’ve tried to suggest for example, a person trained in making literary discriminations can, if he is willing to try, use this skill to make discriminations about the language of bureaucracy in Washington.” p. 10.

Comment: Back to the twenty-first century, 2008. Well, print is not dead. It lives on in the Internet. But newspapers are failing and drying up with less and less newsprint and more and larger pictures. People still buy books, but the quality of those books is questionable—I guess it always was.

But he’s right. Communication is communication regardless of the medium. If you can deal with problems in print communication you can deal with problems in communication in all other mediums—pictures, slides, tape recorders, radio, Web sites, e-mail, e-books, cell phones, blogs, text messaging, film and whatever else I have forgotten.

Although the NCTE is encouraging multi-media communication, I am not sure how many English teachers are encouraging their students to communicate through non-print media or a combination of non-print and print media. But Gibson was right. Multi-media communication is where we’re headed and we have to do a deal of thinking about how to bring this about.

The purpose of this blog, English Education Archives, is to present articles of contemporary interest in English education from professional English journals of the past (pre-2008 and 2009).

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