Australian General Semantics Society


" Reflections on Previous AGS Seminars"


Saturday Seminar 26 February 2005

Presenter: Robert James


A little review of the AGS Weekend heritage, its achievements and shortcomings.

What do we remember, what have we internalised, and what are our aspirations?

We might be surprised to be reminded of some of the material we have covered.


1. Preliminaries

Coming together, catching up ...


2. Reflections on Past Year(s)

Review of our “Homework Assignment”

Some highlights to remember from Weekends, Tuesdays et al.

When is time binding most apparent?


3. Improving the Learning Experience

What sort of time together do we want?

Alternative modes of learning.


4. Our Place in the G-S Community

Reflections on our experience with G-S friends overseas and in Australia.

What have we learnt - How can we contribute to their life and work?


5. Our Many Resources

Do we know what resources we have access to?

How can we best use our books, articles and Internet etc.?


~~~ Luncheon (per kind favour of Gavan) ~~~


6. Becoming Ecumenical ?

Working-Learning-Exploring with other "disciplines" and groups

Possible links with Social Developers Network (and others?)


7. Future of G-S in Australia-NZ

Laurie's paper dated 17 Feb 2005.

"Selling" g-s: To whom, By whom and How?


~ Close ~

Australian General Semantics Society


"Reflections on our times together"


*** * ***


1. Preliminaries


Coming together, catching up ... Always an important feature of our gatherings, as the social web that binds us transcends many ideological-doctrinal differences. 


We were most gratified today to be joined by Laurie’s old friend friend of long-standing, Deon.  Deon encountered g-s many years ago when he met Laurie.  Impressed by some of the concepts and tools, he retained an attachment to the discipline, and was delighted to meet up with Laurie again recently.  He made a most positive contribution to today’s proceedings, and we hope that he is able to continue some activities with us.     



2. Reflections on past year(s)


This month’s seminar was a little unusual in that we had a preliminary homework assignment:

P'haps you could do a little homework in preparation for Saturday’s Seminar:

  a. Reflect on the seminars that we've had in the last few years (Tues nights, Weekends, Conferences etc), and recall some events of lasting significance (serious or frivolous, useful or hypothetical).
  b. Consider how our time(s) together might be made more joyful and/or useful. What experiences have you had in other forums that we might be able to learn from.  What techniques or learning processes have you found effective?
I'm sure that these questions will be easily be “completely solved" with just a few moments of thought (Don't worry TOO much if nothing spectacular comes to mind!).
To refresh your recollection of what we've done, you might like to consult the somewhat scatty notes archived thus:
Looking forward to seeing you on Sat.
Robert J.

Abstracts of some of the last few years’ proceedings were displayed on posters for discussion.  We dwelt at some length on historical perspectives and highlights, recalling the comings and goings over the years, eg, approximately:


          (Over some decades):  Laurie’s long studies and practice of GS

          Laurie’s “Assertiveness” course at WEA,

                   where he met Gavan, David McMahon, Brett and James Walker.


          1988 – 2001: Tuesday nights meetings with Gavan and Laurie and Betty.


          1991: Gregg and Pauline Hoffmann visited for the Gerringong Seminar


          1998: Meryl & Garry and Megan etc, Seminar at Bondi Junction

                   Meetings at the Literary Institute, near Fred’s place.


          1999: Weekend Seminars began in Eastern Suburbs office.

          Laurie favoured the “public face” of a commercial office,

          others preferred the intimacy of a home environment. 

          This is still and issue in considering meeting venues and activities.


          2000:  Gregg and Pauline visited again for the Sydney 2000 Olympics


          2002: Milton visited for the Fairy Meadow Seminar.


                                                          *** * ***


Discussion ranged around all sorts of areas of interest to the group, and the facilitator, after making a number of futile attempts to come back to the “agenda”, decided to abandon the agenda for the remainder of this meeting, and for future meetings.


When Deon arrived, Laurie (re-)introduced him to the group, recalling the circumstances of their meeting, when they shared the “Levels of Communication” diagram.  These “levels” can perhaps be illustrated thus:

1.     “G’day, how’re ya goin’ ?”

2.     “What did you get up to over the weekend?”

3.     “I read some articles that suggested … “

4.     “How do you this that such-and-such a principle could be valuable in your own life?”


Discussion ranged (raged?) around such concepts as maps, territories, assumptions, “facts”, models, filters and “prostractions” etc.


The notion of “competitiveness” in the group was considered.


Laurie boldly called a halt to the “intellectualisings”, and urged us to consider some (two in particular) failings in our own communications, and to challenge ourselves on how we apply in the real world, what’s been laboured over in discussions.


*** * ***


After lunch, we considered how we apply learning principles, and recalled some of David’s demonstrations.  The exercise of estimating a drinking-glass’s height-to-diameter ratio was particularly memorable.  This, in itself, illustrated how a watching-and-doing exercise was far more memorable than a listening-and-talking experience.


The “Stop-Stop” technique (Korzybski’s “cortico-thalamic pause”) was considered, whereby the listener stops, evaluates and asks questions before jumping into a discussion/argument.


Laurie mentioned that following the Las Vegas Conference in 2003, Milton reflected that we tend to emerge excited from seminars and other motivational experiences, but learning must be taken with “incrementally small steps, as utilized in the Calculus”, and repeated often.


Laurie emphasized that his most effective learning experience was probably through the literature (eg shorthand notes while washing-up!)


Deon shared his experience in marketing a pain-managing device.  The use of testimonials from happy, pain-free users was far more effective than lecturing by white-coated boffins or marketing spruikers.


Gavan recalled the value of tactile demonstrations – “Pull-it-apart-and-reconstruct-it” style, illustrated, for example, by the P1-T1 model.  He reminded us that many people do not like being subjected to a “role-modelling” exercise.  He has seen effective learning occur by looking at differences rather than just similarities.


Betty has had most effective learning in a formal education environment (eg University), and in personal relationships (eg observing role models).


*** A gracious Lunch was generously served in the gentle sunshine ***

of Gavan’s glorious green garden glade.


We moved on to consider future directions of AGS and how to share it with potentially interested newcomers.  Laurie mentioned his recent experiences with several who had expressed an interest.


Laurie revealed that he was very enthusiastic about the prospect of us using the currently-popular “Life Skills Coaching” method for using GS methods, NLP etc,  in conducting private “counselling” work, with a view to introducing people into the group environment of AGS (Not necessarily at the Sefton meetings).  The “Life Coaching Handbook: has been a most useful resource in this respect.


People to consider might particularly come from groups like “young businessmen”, Psychologists etc running a business, eg with a partner, people with anger management or other personal problems, Hospital staff, Uni staff and students, School and TAFE students and staff.  This sounds like a huge market!  AGS should aim for establishing groups far beyond the current AGS scene.


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