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What the ancients knew and we have lost.

by Christian Masset

· communication,public speaking

In the course of the 15th century, the great technological improvements in printing that took place in Europe, made possible the wide circulation of books and the mass diffusion of ideas and knowledge. From that time on, the emphasis of education left for good, the domains of listening, oral communication and rhetorical skills to rely almost exclusively on reading and writing.*Notes taken from Mortimer J. Adler : How To Speak, How To Listen (1997).

With the passing of time, the solitary activities of reading and writing have made us less and less amenable to careful listening, the enjoyment of conversing and the skills of public speaking. These ways to acquire and exchange knowledge once critical to the ancient form of education have quietly become minor practices for most of us, in the modern school system.

In this era of instant, global communication, why do so many of us feel “disconnected”, lonely, and yearning for ways to genuinely reconnect with a community, neighbors, peers, and people feeling in the same way ? Has the technological era consumed that age-old practice and sense that once granted time, assurance and the abilities to listen and converse patiently for long moments with friends or strangers ? the skills often referred to as the “lost” art of conversation.

What appears clear is that a trend is now re-emerging. People of all ages are looking for opportunities of face to face conversations, exchanges of ideas and feelings with like-minded individuals. This urge to reconnect, though unequal in segments of society is slowly reviving traces of the old tradition. Unequivocally these exchanges provide the participants with a deeper sense of self-worth, satisfaction, appreciation, and empathy while developing authentic skills for verbal communication; furthermore, they tend not only to become parts of daily life but invigorate an alternative lifestyle centered on community values based on sharing, and various forms of mutual support.
Let’s encourage everyone, the younger generation included, to enjoy verbal communication skills that develop self- confidence, social maturity and open up the world to more possibilities. It seems the time is just right, for that, now.

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