Why Study Communication?





       “The effect of speech upon the condition of the mind is comparable to the power of drugs over the condition of the body. Just as different drugs dispel different secretions from the body, and some bring an end to disease and others to life, so to in the case of speeches; some distress, others delight, some cause fear, others make the listeners bold, and some drug and bewitch the soul with a kind of evil persuasion.” (Gorgias.375 BCE. The Encomium of Helen.)



     “What I am proposing here tonight is not original.  During the last decade, a host of task forces, commissions, and foundations have argued the same thing: Good listening and speaking skills are essential for everyone.  In their 1983 report, A Nation at Risk, The National Commission on Excellence in Education addressed “the essentials of a strong curriculum,” thus: “The teaching of English (ironic emphasis mine) in high school should equip graduates to…listen effectively and discuss ideas intelligently.”  Also in 1983, the Task Force on Education for Economic Growth recommended speaking and listening competencies as part of their plan for improving education in this country.  Specifically, they highlighted the following: 1) the ability to engage critically and constructively in the exchange of ideas: 2) the ability to answer and ask questions coherently and concisely, and to follow spoken instructions; 3) the ability to identify and comprehend the main and subordinate ideas in discussions and to report accurately what others have said; and 4) the ability to conceive and develop ideas about a topic for the purpose of speaking to a group; to choose and organize related ideas; to present them clearly in standard English.”  (Poulakos, John. 1983. The Centrality of Oral Communication in Secondary Education.)



     “A fourth reason is that the mastery of oral communication frees a person from seeing the world according to normative societal prescriptions.” (Poulakos 1983.)



     “There you have it.  Oral communication has been marginalized because we are ambivalent toward it, because we take it for granted, because we cannot measure it with the tools of measurement we have devised, and because it can turn docile people into demanding, inquisitive, critical human beings.”  (Poulakos 1983.)