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March 1972

Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc.

Caleb Gattegno


vol. I no. 2

March 1972

First published in 1972. Reprinted in 2009. Copyright Š 1972-2009 Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc. Author: Caleb Gattegno All rights reserved ISBN 978-0-87825-261-9 Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc. 2nd Floor 99 University Place, New York, N.Y. 10003-4555

Although some of the contributors to the second issue of the newsletter have sent in their materials a while ago, it seems that there are too many busy members of our staff who cannot produce their contributions in time to make this communication a monthly affair. Let us accept this in good humor and enjoy the copies whenever they arrive. Because it is an internal newsletter, normally we would not think of sending it to outsiders. For the first issue we made three exceptions and sent a copy to three people who are entitled to know, from us directly, what we tell each other about our work with them or with their colleagues. The response received from these three people was an encouragement for us to engage in a new move. Each of us will receive two copies of this issue. The second copy can be used for showing to people we select as interested in our work or those who want to get a feel of the kind of people we are before considering a professional contact with us. The content of this issue is a little less informal and more technical because we think that these pages can serve as a forum for discussion of matters in which we cannot easily engage orally. Let us know what you think about our efforts in this direction. C.G.

Table of Contents

Letter From The Editor......................................................... 1 Forum .................................................................................. 3 1 ......................................................................................................... 3 2 ........................................................................................................ 6 3 ........................................................................................................ 9 4 ...................................................................................................... 12 A Sentimental Corner ..........................................................15 WiC Teach-In (Ohio)............................................................17 Ups And Downs In New Haven ........................................... 19 The Silent Way In California............................................... 23 The Twin Parks School (Progress Report) .......................... 25 Through The Eye Of A Psychologist .................................... 29 The Professorial Seminar (Progress Report) ...................... 33

Letter From The Editor

Dear Contributor: We will try to make this a bi-monthly publication and would appreciate your cooperation. Next issue is scheduled for May. Contributions should be received at this office by April 20th. However, if you intend to contribute to the May issue, please call the office by April 10th to inform us of your intention. This will greatly facilitate the planning of the content and the necessary technical work. Thank you.



This is a beginning of the exchange of notes from the Solutions staff members who run workshops for teachers. Questions to be examined include: how each person approaches the task before meeting the participants, how he or she assesses what has been done and how he or she takes advantage of the lessons learned. Contributors to this issue are Dr. Gattegno, Jim McDowell, Dee Hinman and Marty Hoffman. In order to make this forum a true dialogue and a valuable experience for all, we welcome your comments, questions and suggestions.

1 Forty years ago I started to work with teachers on improving our grasp of what the teaching of various subject matters was. I would therefore have much to tell and write about. But because my study of how to run a seminar or a workshop has been very detailed and is incorporated in my way of working, it is extremely difficult to describe it. While the seminar unfolds I am only attending to how to bring each participant to be with the problem we are studying. That is more than half the battle of meeting a challenge and engaging in a study independently and with all one has to bring to it. Indeed this is the single most important thing I learned in all those years.


March 1972

If ever I made some progress in my studies of education, it is due to the discipline of letting problems prepare me for their solution. This is what I want to pass on to those who choose to come and work with me. But in order to achieve this I must offer challenges which already move people and invite the public to join me in looking at what can be done to improve our hold on these challenges. Occasionally I offer what seems important to me and I learn from the poor response of the public that it is my bias that makes the particular issue important to me. So I now suggest — and indeed have for a few years — that we study what the participants want. My titles are general and my mailing list varied. People come and only then my work as a leader of a workshop starts. I have learned not to waste time in the beginning and to let people get involved at once, so that in less than half an hour after starting we are feeling in the thick of it. Late comers believe we have been at it for some time. Among a number of possible ways of focusing on a problem I stop at one of the following three. We either want to become more aware of what we think of a particular point in order to reach its significance in a number of activities, or wish to become more expert in the use of some technique or we feel that we have to disentangle a complicated matter so that we can start working on some of its aspects. As an example of the first let us take imagery. Most of us use it and are in contact with it when writing, thinking, planning, but very few among us know what it is and how it functions, and still fewer use it deliberately to make students better at some work like spelling, solving geometrical problems or to become more visual. As an example of the second let us mention quick calculations which are everybody's birthright but are owned as a skill by too few people. A thorough training in the use of transformations usually provides participants with this know-how. The third is illustrated by the study of how we learn to speak as babies and as young children and how much teachers can learn from these spontaneous functionings which will help them make students good at 4


their various linguistic studies such as, reading, grammar, creative writing, etc. My style of running seminars is to strike at every preconception which prevents anyone from meeting the challenge or challenges. Not all participants like it because so many of them identify with their preconceptions and beliefs. But if they stand the strain of being exposed, they usually enjoy their victory and leave better equipped to work on something that matters to them. Unless I learn much myself, my seminars are not counted as good. The questions I face are either concerned with seminar techniques always challenged by some newcomer, or with my sensitivity to look at myself at work on the selected theme or attempting to take a radically new way of looking at something I am familiar with. My most successful seminars are those in which I find a new entry into any subject. When I work on an area in which I have been for some time, and I know that the participants may be in it for the first time, my task is to permit them to begin with me as if I knew as little as they do, a kind of starting from scratch even if the problem is profound and difficult. For instance, in the field of reading we may begin by asking ourselves “In how many ways can we relate to texts we look at?� In order to find the count we must develop the criteria which differentiate the act of reading from 1

how we understand speech,


how we reach meaning in the spoken and written languages,


how we reach structure and the function of words,

4 how we use contexts to help us know what we do not quite comprehend etc., etc. Every participant who has read before knows that not all reading consists of acquiring information, that all sorts of clues are needed to


March 1972

make sense of a page of words and that we relate differently to various writers, poets, novelists, historians, mystics, etc. My seminars are punctuated by feedback sessions which help me in knowing where each participant is with respect to our study, as it develops. These feedbacks are extremely important for me although many people find it very difficult to verbalize their state or their grasp of a question. Over the years, I learned to sensitize myself to very many subtle shades, hues and nuances which are needed in order not to mistake what is said for what ones does not want to convey. In my long experience of seminars I never reached the conclusion that I shall meet the next group without doubt. On the contrary, I think that my last seminar will in a way still be the first seminar provided I genuinely meet those who come for what they are when they are struggling with a significant challenge. Caleb Gattegno

2 The following are questions I ask myself as I prepare for, deliver, assess a seminar and plan for the next one. Preparation •

Content •

What are the basic elements of the approach and the materials to be presented?

What are some exercises to illustrate the above which will engage adults in challenging intellectual activities?

What are the most efficient entries into these activities?

Self 6


Is there a new problem, question or aspect I want to study and invite others to examine so that, to some extent, we can all be engaged in fresh inquiry?

Am I confident about what I “know ”, what I have yet to learn, and am I willing to risk trying to do some new things?

Am I clear as to how to direct our inquiry and still keep the primary locus of responsibility for learning with the participants?

Delivery •

What question will engage all of us immediately in a short inquiry session which will develop some general criteria for what we are studying?

What initial activity can we all engage in which will let each of us know where the others are coming from and will establish a way of working together?

Do I keep the learning as active as possible by providing a variety of opportunities for intensive, individual involvement?

Do I capitalize on opportunities for in-depth analysis as these arise, rather than engage in lengthy discussions before sufficient experience is acquired?

Do I remain alert and responsive to new points of view, new directions, and alternative ways of working which emerge as the work progresses?

Do I make mistakes and recover from them on the spot?

Does a spiraling thread of continuity develop as questions, themes, topics are revisited at various levels of understanding?

Does a sense of humor permeate our way of working?

Assessment •

Do I trust that the participants will assess their own work in their own way if they are encouraged to do so? 7

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Are the participants given enough opportunities to practice and express new ideas, insights, approaches as we work?

Did I practice and encourage others to practice an attitude of listening to each other so that analysis and evaluation of our work can occur as a spontaneous reflection on personal experience acquired rather than engage in contrived “feedback” sessions which seem to have limited yield?

Can I accept the exchange of “my energy for their time” without expecting expressions of what it has meant for them to engage in this workshop?

Is it enough to end the seminar by reminding all of us of our shared responsibility to take something from the time we have used together, to practice it immediately, and to build on it if possible?

Did I learn something? Was it enjoyable for me?

Were there more people there after dinner than before? on Saturday than on Friday?

Did my colleagues attend voluntarily?

Did I get a variety of solid comments and criticisms from my colleagues?

Change •

Is each workshop different? Do I continually use each seminar to engage in fresh research?

Have I found more stimulating, more efficient, more profound questions with which to start off a workshop?

Have I eliminated some of the less efficient activities and illustrative examples?

Does an increasing number of illustrative experiences, activities, or examples come to mind more readily when they are needed?

Do I talk less, and do the participants work more each time? 8


Jim McDowell

3 In one sense all of my life has been a preparation for giving each workshop. There is however a special preparation of my self for this task which is among the most difficult of all challenges: 1

I must try to think again and in more depth on all those questions appropriate for study in this particular workshop so as: •

to be clearer on what I do know and how I know it,

to find aspects not yet explored adequately and carefully enough and to work further on these within myself and with Dr. Gattegno and other fellow staff members,

to integrate into this the new lightings brought by the recent weekend seminars and workshops with Dr. Gattegno and by my recent work with learners from whom I gain so much.

2 I must select entry points into the study for the participants — through questions and/or exercises — which will allow them to know for themselves (from within) what I know (rather than to believe because of what I say): 3 I must free myself from all expectations, hopes and fears so I can be as fully as possible with each of the participants and thus enable them to be with the important questions. In the end I must assess any workshop according to my own criteria, but the most crucial resource to me in this is feedback from varied sources: •

continuous feedback during the workshop,

specific feedback sessions during and at the end of the workshop, 9

March 1972

feedback from observations of fellow staff members,

feedback from within myself during the workshop,

feedback during the following weeks from both the classroom performance and the comments of the participants.

As I am living a workshop it moves through four or five phases which I guide on the basis of a continuous inner synthesizing of: •

feedback from the participants which lets me know if I am sensing what is needed by them,

growth of insight (or knowing) in myself with respect to the questions which are examined by all of us.

Phase I is a few minutes taken for immediate feedback from the participants on why they have come. This feedback is especially needed when I know little about the participants, and may be omitted if I know more. Phase II provides for the participants an entry into the field to be studied by opening up a question which allows (or even forces) the participants to be with the problem of the workshop in a new way — and to begin to rethink on the basis of inner knowing those areas where they discover that their thinking until now has been based on belief. •

this can be done through carefully chosen questions and/or through exercises which cause the participants to ask questions on their own (to be “confused”),

once the right questions are being asked because the participants are in contact with their own learning and knowing, then they are prepared to begin to understand why the materials and techniques of a certain approach have been developed by its author (Dr. Gattegno) in the way they have.

Phase III is an alternation of three elements in a rhythm and sequence that is life giving to the participants (guided by feedbacks):




Examination of the techniques and materials to see how they are designed to assist the learners and to assist the teacher in subordinating teaching to learning;

2 Exercises (or games) that are as valid and intellectually challenging for the participants as they would be for their prospective students; 3 Demonstration and practice of the major techniques. Phase IV must often be omitted in a two or three day workshop as a deliberate phase though aspects of it would be interspersed informally with the other phases. This is the phase in which the participants sort out together with the leader (rather than only on their own and after they reach home) how they will try to make their classrooms different because of what they have learned in the workshop. Phase V is a final feedback when all the participants in the workshop, including the leader, have an opportunity to share in more depth the unique impact of the workshop on each person present, and to learn from it. None of the participants can have access to this unless this kind of sharing takes place, since we must know it from each person himself. The fact that others have been struck by what has not struck me can open up new directions for my study — especially for me as a leader. Dee Hinman

4 I have now run five mathematics seminars at Educational Solutions. This relatively small number has enabled me to see distinct stages in my development as a seminar leader. It is especially true that my current mode of preparation differs significantly from my earlier preparations. My first seminar was scheduled for 40 hours and the task of finding enough to do to fill this imposing duration occupied much of my preparation time. I spent a long time reviewing the literature 11

March 1972

(especially Gattegno, Books I-VII and Goutard, Mathematics and Children) in order to acquire as many additional insights into the use of Algebricks and Geoboards as possible. I also compiled a list of activities which had been effective in classroom demonstrations, although I recognized that the circumstances were substantially different. In later preparations, with some assurance that I had obtained sufficient technical competence and with the experience of the previous seminars, I was able to concentrate on other matters. I now consider it of great importance that the participants, myself included, be involved in mathematical experiences that transcend acquisition of technical competence with the Algebricks. A recent seminar was conducted entirely in a base other than the vulgar (where ten follows nine) as an attempt to bring everyone closer to the dynamics of learning while still performing elementary operations with the Algebricks. Since the universe of mathematics can scarcely be fully explored in a two or five day seminar, much of my preparation now is concerned with choosing general areas to be explored, effective entries into these areas, and making estimates of the time to be spent in each area. These choices are made with regard to the expressed needs of the past participants and my own interests. As an example of the latter, during my last seminar a variety of creative writing exercises were included in order to provide material for a study of the role of expressive writing in mathematics. In the course of a seminar, one of my primary responsibilities is to remain responsive to the demands of the work in progress, I am constantly assessing the activities in progress. Are they appropriately challenging? Have they remained open-ended? Has the intended focus been realized? Among the most difficult jobs a seminar leader must handle is the one of meeting the questions and comments from the participants. It is not wise to become so involved in one individual's concerns that the momentum of the seminar is lost. However, it is from these concerns that new awarenesses and techniques arise. Some of the most productive segments of my seminars have come as a result of the activities precipitated by participants’ comments.



Assessment of a seminar involves many components. “Feedback” sessions are useful, although in many cases I have difficulty in assessing the “reliability” of the comments. Another important indicator for me is the degree to which the participants were engaged in the various activities. The third component of my personal assessment of the seminar involves the question of what I have learned. In retrospect I can see a number of things I have learned both through successes and failures. Greater sensitivity to participants, more precise use of language, more refined use of materials, and greater insight into the inter-relationships with the mathematical universe have been among the more important benefits to me, and provide a tangible impetus toward giving future seminars. Marty Hoffman


A Sentimental Corner

HOW I SEE IT FROM WHERE I SIT Actually I didn’t always sit here outside of Dr. Gattegno’s office. Five years ago I sat wherever I could find a chair not covered with paint since at that time we were new tenants in this building. Having never before worked for an educational firm, Schools for the Future was a new venture for me. My past experience of working for an advertising firm certainly did not prepare me for my new position. My Brooklynese diction didn’t help any either (I now use lime green for ei not red, since I've improved my diction!). Of course Dr. Gattegno being the patient man he is managed to ‘put up’ with me. My training if I may put it that way began with transcribing tapes of Dr. Gattegno’s special seminars — such as “Powers of the Mind,” “Consciousness of Man,” “Awareness of the Awareness” and so on. Never had I realized how unaware of many things I was before. Thinking about all these new things (new to me) while riding on the trains to and from work, made me miss my stop many times. Anyway, like everyone else, once you work for a man like Dr. Gattegno he seems to inspire you to want to do your very best. Schools for the Future is now no longer and Educational Solutions has come up like a giant during these past few years and with it a staff of competent people really doing their job. 15

March 1972

Wherever, whenever, and if ever the future takes me from here, Schools for the Future and Educational Solutions will always remain a unique experience in my life. Yolanda Maranga


WiC Teach-In (Ohio)

Forty-five interested, experienced Words in Color teachers from all over Ohio met in Columbus, for the first State-wide Words in Color Teach-In, on January 8th. After coffee and Danish rolls, we sat in a few rows of a semicircle and began telling our troubles to one another in hopes of finding some suggestions for solutions during the morning. When most of the glaring problems had been enumerated, we grouped them in an order that could be applied to the four stages of Words in Color that Sister Leonore has identified. We all offered suggestions, though I think more than providing answers, we really provided support to what most everyone felt — that Words in Color was the answer to the problems of teaching reading. You can easily read between the lines and find that the real troubles arise when a teacher dares to become vulnerable and work on herself in a way she had not before. The day brought to my mind the lack of understanding these teachers had of the subordination of teaching to learning and yet illustrated once again the real beauty of Words in Color — it works even when teachers make huge mistakes and don’t understand it!!!! And of course it reminded me once again of the gifts children are to us all and how kind they are to allow us to try and to fail with them. Two positive, identifiable effects of the Teach-in are apparent. First, it provided an opportunity for us to meet one another, to share experiences, success and failure, and to know that there is support and help if needed from Solutions in Ohio. Secondly, the Ohio Newsletter is fast becoming a thing of the present to continue this link between those of us interested and involved with Words in Color.


March 1972

With the Teach-In over, I am now working on Project Unite, a school and community committee sponsored by the Columbus Board of Education. The committee, divided into eleven areas, is studying the Columbus System and will provide written reports of suggestions for changing and bettering the system. Bruce and I are on the Primary Search and Solve Group and you know the direction in which we’re working — to get our findings into the schools. I have hope. Otherwise, I’m still canvassing Ohio. When you send people to visit here, you'll be glad to know Ohio offers Words In Color teaching in inner-city, Appalachia, middle-America and elite suburban schools. I enjoyed the first Solutions Magazine and look forward to the next one. Peace, Jan-niece Hinson


Ups And Downs In New Haven

In the two months since the last newsletter much has happened. I find myself going from heights of optimism to depths of pessimism about the success of Educational Solutions Connecticut’s first year. People seem enthusiastic and then don’t call! After the initial burst of requests for demonstrations for The Silent Way, I spent most of November consulting in the High School in the Community and wandering around Connecticut giving demonstrations; I am glad that so many of the public schools invited me and there has been strong interest from a few of them (i.e. to the point of actually taking workshops). December was not so strong and I started to wonder if the initial response had only been superficial. January was spent similarly and included ray first Silent Way workshop here. It went well and there were certainly some who were ready to order charts and begin. Early in the month I had some contact with the Adult Basic Education people here; they were especially interested in English as a Second Language The Silent Way. I gave a demonstration to the teachers recently. People from the Bridgeport group had also been invited. Although there were a couple of New Haveners who seemed to be most excited, it was really the Bridgeport people who were saying “when can you come and see us, how long must we work until we begin?”, etc. I have been invited down there to work with their Adult Education group soon.


March 1972

My semester’s consulting in the language dept, of the High School in the Community ended last week, but at just that time one of the two units had had a staff meeting and decided that they were not going to get anywhere with their new experimental school if they didn’t face up to the fact that a large percentage of the students could not read or do even basic mathematics. They decided to cancel their advanced math and physics, have fewer specialized English literature classes and get down to teaching reading (with Words in Color, natch) and some elementary mathematics. So far six of the ten staff members are hard at work with colored chalks and pointers this week. Dr. Gattegno’s final suggestion to this group and the staff of the other unit was: teach everyone to read and do basic math; with those in hand they can tackle anything; and do this, even if it means postponing some courses you'd rather be giving. That was in October and voila! the fruit in February! I sent out schedules of workshops last week listing language courses, Silent Way technique, math and Words in Color workshops. The latter is divided into remedial and elementary. I have already two thirds of our minimum number of 15 for the remedial one. Surprisingly there has been little response so far to the Spanish language courses, but it seems as if there will be a French one for me to do in March. However there was plenty of interest in Spanish up until Christmas, so hopefully the April one will be filled at least. In the last week or so there has been a raging debate in the newspapers over who is ultimately responsible for the lowest reading scores in the area compared with the national norm in the New Haven schools (high, junior high and elementary). They certainly are pretty atrocious, and the Supervisor of Reading for the system is the last person prepared to say that his beloved basal readers have anything to do with it. I have had xeroxed the results from G.S. 133 and am sending them out with a letter to all forty of the local elementary schools with offers of a demonstration, etc. In the meantime, the Supervisor of English has become interested as his teachers are plagued with illiteracy at the junior high and high school levels and he may even take the upcoming workshop.


Ups And Downs In New Haven

I have gone on with the preparation of some Serbian charts in lower case Cyrillic, the 1001 Australian sentences (250 of which are now being read in Melbourne) and some investigations of the possibilities of doing the Hebrew charts. The first Danish chart now exists and shows our English spelling mess has some very close cousins: five different ‘d’ sounds in one chart and half a dozen possibilities for ‘g’! Yale is quiet. I was shown some papers done on my Chinese demonstration by Phil, of Ed. students and a couple were rather impressive. One turned up at the last workshop and is madly buying books at the moment. One of the Teaching Assistants (in French) gave a paper on The Silent Way this week to her colleagues. She spent two hours with me discussing and arguing last weekend, before writing the final draft. Most students, graduates and undergraduates claim they can’t afford the workshop prices, so maybe they will turn up in a year or so! Jane Orton


The Silent Way In California

In the December newsletter someone brought up the question of the teacher’s role in advanced classes taught by The Silent Way. In midDecember I was ushered into just such a class, without forewarning or preparation: French, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish and Arabic students studying English as a second language. Experiments with the rods and charts showed that they were advanced indeed. We then turned to the fidel, particularly because one Japanese student vociferously insisted that the colors would blind any normal person. As we investigated the color code, the other students (about 30) moved closer in a circle. They seemed fascinated by the fidel, so we began to play the games that older Words in Color students usually enjoy: linking columns to form surprise words or sentences, discovering reversals, studying individual columns to find a word for each sign. Soon the blackboard was filled with words (aisle, pie, island, sigh, etc.) and we attempted to make sentences using a certain number of the words. The inventor would have to tap out his sentence on the fidel or write it on the board. (I cry and sigh for my love in the night) and the whole class would scrutinize it for errors. We would discuss difficult words or sentences until the meaning became apparent through the contribution of many. This was an intense class, and I could scarcely believe it was already noon when a bell rang. We had been together three hours! This episode has encouraged me to explore the possible use of other Words in Color materials and games for advanced Silent Way students: Books 2 & 3,


March 1972

the Word Building Book, Worksheets 7 - 14. I would appreciate comments from other Silent Way - English as a Second Language teachers. John Pint


The Twin Parks School (Progress Report)

No one at this moment could say for certain what is going on in that school. Too much is taking place at all levels and no one is everywhere all the time to note the significant elements which are showing themselves. Since there are many of us who are interested observers looking at the phenomenon of the school, we shall end up having enough data to give the illusion that we know much. In a way it is true because in the human sciences we cannot validly isolate a minute detail and report its vicissitudes as typical of the whole. We accept as the best reporting the one which provides a mosaic or a map to replace the continuous filming of everything. The school has grown. Even tremendously. We can see the day soon when it will be a fact that there are no illiterate children among the non-truant school population. We can even see that most children who work with two languages will be able to read both easily and competently. We may not see as clearly this year that all teachers know how to subordinate teaching to learning, but there will only be a few who have not been affected by the merits of this new attitude. One way of seeing this will be in the general inner state of the teachers who 25

March 1972


tire less easily on the job

2 trust more and more that their students can take care of themselves. The general atmosphere of the school is definitely more relaxed; there is definitely more confidence. As problems emerged, the most urgent ones were worked on with determination and with the intention of solving them. Although spirits went up and down now and then, only two members of the staff appointed from the summer seminar left and everybody who wanted to contribute his or her solutions was given a chance to test it. The low ebbs never lasted too long to produce a permanent damage. The experiment included all these vacillations and doubts and hesitations which removed the ambiguity present in some minds that we were aiming at a model school, an ideal school. Because there were several machineries which allowed everybody to air their views, grievances and doubts, there was hardly ever accumulation of resentment. The administrators considered it their first job to be wherever they were needed, to invite anyone in trouble to work out his or her difficulties, to offer assistance at once. Decisions made a priori that proved harmful were reversed or altered to allow room for the grieved. The staff as a whole knew that it was a school where something was tried out and that they had the power to make or break. They knew that they were the foundation on which the children’s education was based. While the teacher’s role was rightly exalted, his or her responsibility was at the same time enhanced. After a few months, it is clear that most teachers learned much more than would have been the case in any other way of running the school. Their testimony is available and in the detailed articulation which removes the doubt that their change is profound and fundamental. It took place because of a deeper awareness and for no other reason. Whatever happens to the school in the future, most teachers in it this year will have taken away an invaluable education that will serve their charges in any classroom.


The Twin Parks School (Progress Report)

The experiment has already taught us that our premise that change in education can only take place when teachers change is correct in all its senses. Since this change is the least expensive, it is compatible with the cuts in funds governments decide to make for whatever reasons. Thus hope for a better public education for all can not be shattered. Caleb Gattegno


Through The Eye Of A Psychologist

When I joined the staff in July 1971, I had no idea how a psychologist was expected to function at Educational Solutions. I knew only that I had been hired to work on a project in the Bronx at the Twin Parks Elementary School. It was clear that I would not be able to define my role until I started working at the school. Usually psychologists are asked “to see the child” or “talk to the child” and somehow, through “magical” techniques, bring about changes. Diagnostic work-ups often result in suggestions and recommendations which reveal complete obliviousness to the realities of the classroom situation. Individual counseling sessions cannot be much more satisfactory since there is no magic. The teacher often winds up with advice to provide the child with more individual attention — something she already knew would be helpful but is unfeasible in a class of thirtyfive. The psychologist in this situation has little opportunity to learn anything new about child behavior and the learning process — and cannot but remain limited since he is isolated from the actual happenings in the classroom. This approach to a child’s problems usually yields little more for him than just a label. From the first day of school it was obvious that I was committed to not working in the traditional role of a school psychologist. But before long the teachers were requesting that I test a child, talk to a child who frequently fights in class, or take the disruptive children out of the classroom so the teacher could get on with her teaching. My job in the


March 1972

beginning was to help these teachers recognize that their demands might best be met in another way. In the majority of classrooms my work begins with those children who present specific problems — behavior problems, learning difficulties, hyperactivity, immaturity, excessive shyness, aggressiveness, etc. (So far only a few teachers have requested that I come to their classroom for reasons other than a specific problem child. Few have shown interest in getting feedback on how they are doing as teachers.) I start with observing for several hours to get some feeling for the classroom as a whole, since to understand the behavior of one child one has to take into account the behavior of the teacher and other children, the activities the child is exposed to, and the general atmosphere in the room. When I spend time with the child alone I can evaluate his strengths and limitations — his potential for engaging in a close relationship with another, his specific needs in such a relationship and his potential for learning — through normal tasks rather than formal testing procedures. The most significant work takes place when the teacher and I meet to share our observations and interpretations of the situation. As a matter of fact, it is much more a sharing of ideas than my attempting to give forth any quick evaluation of the problem. I usually ask the teacher as many questions about the child as she asks me. At the end of our meeting we usually have a pretty accurate picture of the child's behavior, and some hypotheses of why the child acts in that particular way. Together we discuss the possible alternatives for helping the child, bearing in mind the realistic limitations of a teacher who has thirtyfour other children to work with. Plans are made to work with John in a group of 4 or 5 before exposing him to a larger group to give Maria gold stars when she has a good morning; to provide other activities during reading time, etc. Sometimes these changes work and sometimes they don't. But the teacher has at least been involved in the process of trying to better understand the behavior of one child in her class who presented many problems to her. As my contact with the teacher continues, those discussions which began with a specific child lead the teacher to questioning and re-examining her own behavior with respect to the entire class.


Through The Eye Of A Psychologist

My value to the school therefore lies in helping teachers learn how to work more effectively with all of their children. If teachers can become more sensitive to the needs of their children and I more aware of their own behavior in the classroom, then they would be in a better position to work with the whole class including those which they consider difficult cases. My goal is, not only to help the teacher cope with problem children but also to provide her with a greater understanding of children as people. Enid Friedman


The Professorial Seminar (Progress Report)

We are now a happy group. I do not know in detail what every member of the seminar thinks on all the matters that were raised in our meetings, but I know that quite a number are enjoying studying some aspect of the phenomenon of the school and participating in various exercises at our meetings. In the December notes I alluded to the fact that one or two of the professors found it already possible to apply some of the ideas we discussed at the seminar in their own teacher education classes. There are now more of them who find their experience, in their capacity as members of this seminar, useful in their own regular job. What is more exciting for me is that most of them, trying to adjust to the challenges defined by their job of objective reporters on the school, have come up with a deeper perception of what opportunities public education offers today to daring innovators who know what they are doing. No longer do they report the uniformity of the appearances in the classrooms as they did in the beginning and are now sensitive to how, each person, teacher or learner, affects what they see at work in the numerous classes of the Twin Park School. Slowly but surely the reality behind the appearances is being apprehended. And its description is generating many thoughts and attitudes which can influence change in education in the city where despair is more common than enthusiasm.


March 1972

It seems certain now that subordinating teaching to learning makes sense even when the only examples witnessed are those of teachers unsure of themselves in a number of ways, using techniques and materials without being taken by the hand. Video-taped material now available has caused some of the professors to revise their idea of speech in teaching, their idea of praise and of correction and has brought them to drop looking at teaching as complying with some ready-made ideal. Rather, they take in what is visible and ask questions about the invisible which until now was left out as inaccessible. Among the acquired verities I believe I can count: the great advantage of treating students as people who bring a lot to any learning situation rather than as ignorant of the point to be taught; the stress on how in some matters to know something is equivalent to knowing as much as anybody else; the possibility of exploding what students know into whole chapters in the sciences or arts; the advantage of transforming the data so that they yield more, which is easily handled by the knower. These acquisitions form a part of a science (epistemology) as it applies to education through teaching. And each specialist can see a future for himself when he will shift from knowledge to knowing. This generates both enthusiasm and themes immediately workable. The professorial seminar has moved towards the science of education by making it their own. February, 1972 C.G.


About Caleb Gattegno Caleb Gattegno is the teacher every student dreams of; he doesn’t require his students to memorize anything, he doesn’t shout or at times even say a word, and his students learn at an accelerated rate because they are truly interested. In a world where memorization, recitation, and standardized tests are still the norm, Gattegno was truly ahead of his time. Born in Alexandria, Egypt in 1911, Gattegno was a scholar of many fields. He held a doctorate of mathematics, a doctorate of arts in psychology, a master of arts in education, and a bachelor of science in physics and chemistry. He held a scientific view of education, and believed illiteracy was a problem that could be solved. He questioned the role of time and algebra in the process of learning to read, and, most importantly, questioned the role of the teacher. The focus in all subjects, he insisted, should always be placed on learning, not on teaching. He called this principle the Subordination of Teaching to Learning. Gattegno travelled around the world 10 times conducting seminars on his teaching methods, and had himself learned about 40 languages. He wrote more than 120 books during his career, and from 1971 until his death in 1988 he published the Educational Solutions newsletter five times a year. He was survived by his second wife Shakti Gattegno and his four children.

March 1972  
March 1972  

Newsletter, Vol. I No. 2, March 1972