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a school of thought: thinking & language

12th October 2017 · 6:30pm - 8:30pm

In person | Virtual event

 a school of thought: thinking & language

A series of six interactive workshops: 12 October – 16 November 2017

12th October – thinking about thinking
Starting with extracts from texts about thinking (John Dewey: How we Think, John Stuart Mill: On Liberty, Immanuel Kant: What is Enlightenment?), we will engage in a discussion about definitions of ‘critical thinking’, leading on to a questioning of its value (or not) in our day-to-day lives, before moving on to using the library and online resources to flesh out our own lines of enquiry. The session will end with us sharing our research and exploring if and how what we think about thinking shapes how we think.

19th October – the language of power
In the society we live in, where we are not controlled by force, how do those in power stay in power? In this workshop, we will split into three groups and, using texts as starting points for further inquiry, consider 1) notions of power (Jan Bloemmart: Notes on Power), 2) advice on keeping those under your power on your side (Niccolo Machiavelli: The Prince), and 3) the idea that there is a link between the language we use and the thoughts we are able to think (George Orwell: The Principles of Newspeak). We will then reconvene to share our thoughts and findings, explore how the concepts connect with each other, and discuss real-life examples from our own experiences which relate to the central theme of Language and Power.

26th October – the power of language
Language is a tool for communicating ideas, thoughts and experiences – and the words we use have the potential to shape how things/events are understood. Starting with this idea of language as a means of persuasion, we will define the basic elements of communication and consider the use/value of rhetoric (Aristotle: Rhetoric), and explore the role identity plays in communication (Zimmerman’s three kinds of identity). The session will finish with us sharing examples of communication we have experienced which used rhetoric, and appeals to identity, to get the message across.

2nd November – memory and the language of persuasion
This workshop is about memory, described by Cicero as a ‘treasure-house of all things’, with memories compared to ‘the books in a library on shelves with different labels’ (Kant). After researching and discussing models of memory, we will analyse examples of rhetorical devices used in advertising, in order to critique the idea that carefully-constructed messages can bypass the usual, conscious, process of memory storage and embed themselves directly into long-term memory (Vance Packard: The Hidden Persuaders). We will finish by sharing our experiences of ‘memorable’ communication, and consider the ethics of using rhetorical devices.

9th November – thinking through association
American psychologist Stanley Milgram’s Six Degrees of Separation illustrates the interconnectedness of people and society in the ‘small world’ we inhabit – claiming we are all connected through a chain of associations. In this workshop, after a brief introduction to semiotics (the study of signs and their meanings) we will explore trains of thought and consider how, in our minds, things link together, and share examples of how we associate things with other things, experiences or ideas. We will finish by discussing the value of harnessing this ‘thinking through association’.

16th November – on reflection
Rounding off the series, this session is all about reflecting on what has happened in the workshops, how we feel and have felt about this (and how we have felt/feel about our feelings), and if/how what we have thought, shared and explored will impact on our thinking from here on in. We will explore different models of reflection and discuss any ‘critical incidents’ (Brookfield) we encountered along the way. We will use Ketso® – a ‘toolkit for creative engagement’ – to share our thoughts, reflections and feelings with each other, allowing us to discuss common themes and explore things further.

Workshop facilitator Adam Ramejkis works at University of the Arts London, running workshops and short courses for staff and students on criticality, creative thinking and (academic) communication. He advocates a think-share-explore approach to collaboration, enabling us to reflect on and develop our own and each other’s thinking.

£85 standard • £65 concessions & Ethical Society members

All workshops will run on Thursdays from 6.30 – 8.30pm in the Library (see below)

We are committed to promoting inclusive practice at Conway Hall. Due to the constraints of our building, the Library is not currently accessible to wheelchair users or those with limited mobility but we are happy to discuss with you how we can make the contents and materials accessible to you. We carefully monitor which events are held in the Library, and will use your comments to enable us to develop ways to ensure that everyone should be able to attend events in the future.

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