A Report on the Meeting of the Forum for Discussion and Exchange of Ideas

31 July 2012, 2.00-5.30 pm  

The Centre started the activities of the Forum for Discussion and Exchange of Ideas with a lecture and round table discussion for high school and higher secondary school teachers on the theme Consciousness of Abstracting in Life and Learning: Teaching as a Time-binding Endeavour on July 31, 2012 from 2.00 to 5.30 pm. The purpose of the Forum for Discussion and Exchange of Ideas is to bring together people of different interests, talents and academic and professional backgrounds, make them aware of the possibilities of General Semantics and familiarize them with the activities of Balvant Parekh Centre.

Teachers representing some major schools in Baroda attended the program which commenced with a welcome address by the Director of the Centre, Professor Prafulla Kar. He spoke on the activities of the Centre and discussed some key ideas of General Semantics. While Professor Kar focused on the historicity of General Semantics and the significance of Korzybski in times of turbulence and conflict, Professor Sitanshu Yashaschandra, Member, Board of Trust of the Centre reflected on the plurality of languages, symbol systems and communication with reference to General Semantics. Professor Yashaschandra elaborated on the cultural connotations implied in the use of the mother tongue and other languages or symbol systems in the process of communication which call for a dialogic, multi-lingual, multi-ordinal and polysemic approach to language and knowledge. In her lecture titled Consciousness of Abstracting in Life and Learning: Teaching/Learning as a Time-binding Endeavour, Bini B.S., Academic Fellow of the Centre argued how teaching/learning is ideally a positive time-binding activity which is paradoxically always under the threat of turning into ineffective or worse, a form of negative time-binding. Any positive time-binding facilitates human engineering, which according to Korzybski is channelizing the collective energies of humanity in an analytical and perceptive way, using mathematical logic for our common good. Bini pointed out that solutions for human problems have been misguided by half-baked, theological and metaphysical doctrines.  Teaching/Learning is a highly responsible activity since it connects the past with the posterity not only in terms of knowledge and skills, but also as a process involving communication, values, ethics and behavior. She explained the Korzybskian idea of the consciousness of abstracting, a principle that contains an implicit caution against thoughtless, impulsive actions and favours delayed action so that in responding to verbal or nonverbal stimulus, we are conscious of what it is and how we are responding. She illustrated how consciousness of abstracting gives a keen awareness of the multi-layered stages in human understanding and activities.  The lecture threw light on the abstracting processes involved in our interactions with the natural and socio-cultural environment.


The discussion session that followed was initiated by Professor Kar who reminded that in no other occupation, the personality of the one who executes the task becomes as important as in teaching, especially in the primary and secondary levels wherein the teacher deals with young, impressionable minds. In his opinion, that is why teaching/learning extends beyond the narrow realm of curricula and examinations and deals with very fundamental concerns of life. The participants shared their experiences as teachers and facilitators and emphasized the need for focusing on interpersonal relations in schools. It was refreshing to see that participants became active contributors of ideas rather than remaining passive listeners. Dialogue and discussion provide enriching time-binding opportunities. We hope such lecture-discussions would facilitate a continuous and meaningful inter-disciplinary and inter-cultural dialogue.