Individual, Family, and Community Education ETDs

Publication Date



Any method which is designed to teach language arts in an educational setting is a reflection of an interplay between experience and language, with language a unique form of that representation. There is no one-to-one relationship between experience and language; it is not a re-enactment of reality, but its symbolic retelling. Thus, the alternatives available to teach a child ways to handle his experiences in order to make chem communicable are based on how one chooses to allow language to symbolize activity.

Experience may first be reduced to specific commonalities which will render these experiences suitable for communication. The effect, then, is to regulate, constrain and give a common form to the verbal behavior of children.

An alternate methodology, rather than reduce experience, strives to communicate it by allowing the child to use the imaginative and creative aspects of his language. This approach is derived from existential philosophy and the language critiques of Wittgenstein and Mauthner, both of whom stress the ambiguous and metaphoric nature of language.

This dissertation argues that the skill of using language to communicate, called "language arts" in formal education, should be based on the continuous development of our ability to use this imagery, metaphor and the inherent ambiguous nature of language, all of which permit children to participate in the creation of meaning. This creation occurs when the comparisons found in imagery, metaphor and ambiguity are successfully brought together.

Ambiguity forces the listener to share in the creation and transfer of meaning, and it allows children the possibility of exploring their own natural and spontaneous creative efforts in language play. In this respect, then, language is not split into the ordinary and the extraordinary, into one which grips reality and the one which lends itself to flights of fantasy. The imposed dichotomy between the two disappears; language arts becomes holistic and organic. Both traditional functions of language, effective and expressive, begin to approximate each other, doing away with separate spheres of activity and concern.

Document Type




Level of Degree


Department Name

Individual, Family, and Community Education

First Committee Member (Chair)

Vera John Steiner

Second Committee Member

Rodney E. Young

Third Committee Member

Mary Martha Weigle

Included in

Education Commons