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January 1973

Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc.

Caleb Gattegno


vol. II no. 2

January 1973

First published in 1973. Reprinted in 2009. Copyright Š 1973-2009 Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc. Author: Caleb Gattegno All rights reserved ISBN 978-0-87825-267-1 Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc. 2nd Floor 99 University Place, New York, N.Y. 10003-4555

Although our name is Educational Solutions, when one looks at what we offer the public it is not always clear that what we sell is solutions. This issue of our Newsletter, the first for our fifth year as a corporation, is devoted to this theme so that every one of us who works in and for this corporation knows with certainty that we use materials, techniques, manpower as the means to bring solutions to our customers — solutions to the problems which made them come to us in the first place.

Table of Contents

1 Can Mathematics Be Rediscovered By Every Student?....... 1 2 The Problem Of Reading Is Solved .................................... 3 3 Can Students Learn One New Language Every Year? ........ 5 4 How Shall I Spend My Working Life? ................................ 9 5 ........................................................................................ 13 1 Testing........................................................................................... 13 2 Open Books................................................................................... 14 3 Technology And Adult Education ................................................ 16 4 Meeting The Needs Of The Future................................................17

1 Can Mathematics Be Rediscovered By Every Student?

Our solution consists in replacing the assimilation of what has been invented by legions of mathematicians over the centuries by the acquiring of a way of using oneself that can be called the mathematization of situations. This substitution of mathematization for mathematics is the form taken by the subordination of teaching to learning in this field. Now we can concentrate on the learner and make the subject matter a byproduct of his activity. Now we can benefit from the many gifts, abilities and experiences students, as people who taught themselves so much, can bring to their next learnings. Mathematicians, when they examined critically what their jobs were about, arrived at the conclusion that they entertain special kinds of dialogues with the universes of experience. By discovering how to structure situations we found the solution to the teaching of mathematics. Starting with university students, then with secondary school students (1946), and finally in 1953 with elementary school students, Dr. Gattegno and his associates in Europe showed that to mathematize situations is within the reach of every one and is the best way of teaching mathematics from kindergarten to college. A large literature now exists to help willing teachers achieve the techniques which affect situations so that they display to everyone’s


January 1973

perception all the concepts of algebra and arithmetic. Once teachers know how to create awareness in their students, the tools for self-study are made available to the students who then, through practice gain the facility that can be tested for achievement. The study of mathematical awareness is now becoming the instrument of more and more teachers in more and more schools, thanks to the education of teachers provided by Educational Solutions. Seminars, workshops and on-thespot consultations by our teachers of teachers, have now reached an efficiency valued by all participants from coast to coast. Our materials — Algebricks, Geoboards, prisms and cubes, animated geometry films, folklore of mathematics films, etc. — have been tested worldwide for twenty years and ac claimed as the most effective tools for teachers trained in their uses. Our literature under the name of Gattegno mathematics has served hundreds of thousands of teachers and students the world over in a dozen languages. One “Teacher’s Introduction” sold 97,000 copies between the years 1959 and 1965. It is now replaced by an introduction which includes the studies of the last ten years. Materials and books are exclusively available from Educational Solutions and, generally, only after teachers have taken one or other of the workshops offered by our corporation. Sometimes these take place with a project contracted with a school district. The Geoboards invented by Dr. Gattegno 1952, are now anonymously used everywhere, as blackboards are, a sign of their effectiveness and appeal. Greater yields from such materials follow the recognition by teachers that the basic discoveries that are part of our solution for mathematics education come from the sharp distinction between awareness and facility which requires different ways of teaching. Our workshops equip teachers with this knowledge, and this solution permits children to succeed when they so often could not.


2 The Problem Of Reading Is Solved

These words constitute the title of a paper published in 1970 in the Harvard Educational Review. Essentially the content of the paper tells how it is possible to solve a problem which has been deemed the greatest challenge of the 70’s by a U.S. Commissioner of Education. The solution followed a scientific examination of the challenge of encoding speech, which then must be decoded to restore speech. Of great help in this solution was the finding that each of us must possess all the intellectual instruments for cracking the code of the spoken language when we are in the first or second year of our life. Using these intellectual powers of young children as a guide, classroom materials of a new kind were invented and produced. This technique of teaching is known as Words in Color, an approach to reading developed for a dozen languages. The materials of Words in Color are so versatile that they can be used with equal efficiency for beginning readers at the Child Care Centers or kindergarten or first grade level, and in high school and adult reading classes. In fact, many teachers, because of their own gifts, have found new uses for these materials. Development of classroom materials has been followed by the production of films for TV, for classroom, for remedial clinics. Teaching reading through TV is obviously the most reasonable solution to illiteracy in vast regions of the world, but there was need to prove it by 1) being able to actually produce a series of segments which take care of each of the problems that students of reading present, and 2)


January 1973

finding out that viewers do learn to read when using the medium of television. The scenario of the series for English first appeared in writing in the 1969 book “Towards a Visual Culture” in Chapter 4, No. 18. The following year the first twelve segments of reading films were produced and they have been shown for two years on the NBC network as part of the Saturday morning children’s programs. Many children entering school at five or six who had viewed pop-ups (the reading films) recognized at once the Words in Color classroom materials, when they were introduced, as being inspired or copied from the TV program. In 1971 six more minutes for English were produced. We now have a complete series for Spanish literacy (341/2 minutes). The tests in schools have confirmed that beginning readers can master the skill of reading through TV, making use of this half hour of filmed time. Such statements were not made in the field of education and because they are now possible, they say that we have a working technology for teaching and that our corporation is first in this field. Because we are already so advanced technologically we foresee that, granted the financial and organizational support required, Educational Solutions can produce and market in each area of the world where illiteracy is considered a hindrance to national progress, a complete program to eradicate illiteracy in the shortest possible time, using TV, teacher education, and classroom and home kits for reinforcing gains made through television. We have produced the solutions for English and for Spanish in packaged forms which are currently being marketed. Perhaps when we use the word “reading” we do not make it explicit that we also provide an approach which takes care of spelling, grammar, creative writing and the aptitude to acquire information through the printed word. That is, in fact, what we offer the public and schools. Our penetration of the school market has never been the result of our own promotion. In fact we have relied on word of mouth to establish ourselves on the American scene and yet work with teachers of some twenty thousand students in both public and private schools. 4

3 Can Students Learn One New Language Every Year?

From the evidence available today, the majority of students in high schools and colleges who have spent a number of years “taking� a language have very little confidence that the hours spent in those language classes have served them well. Educational Solutions organizes classes at the Gattegno Language Schools in either a 21-hour weekend or a 40-hour week long course. This intensive approach provides a workable entry into language study and has made it plain that we know what is involved in learning new languages. Our commitment to our students and the almost universal satisfaction experienced by them has made our courses the most successful in the areas where we operate: New York City, the Bay Area, New Haven, among others. In 1954 the extension of the notion of mathematical situations (see No. 1 above) to linguistic situations opened the way to The Silent Way of teaching foreign languages, the only one which subordinates teaching to learning. In 1963 the first book on the subject, Teaching Foreign Languages in Schools, appeared in England and how a second enlarged edition has just been published (end of December 1972) in the U.S. .


January 1973

Although The Silent Way demands of teachers much more than is required in traditional programs, more and more teachers are prepared to work hard to learn it and to use it. The main difficulty is the shift from simply teaching a language to working with students so that they can rediscover in themselves the use of those powers which enabled them to learn their first language as babies, and apply this awareness to acquiring a foreign language. Materials, techniques and procedures have been invented which make it possible for the students to accept the responsibility for their own learning. Prom the start they engage willingly in the use of themselves as listeners, and as speakers, sensitive to the changes in the situations they see and hear, and noticing which changes of the sounds uttered go with those changes. Soon after, the introduction of written materials adds a new support to the sorting out of the clues needed. Students after a few hours find that their linguistic self can take initiatives in areas not yet covered and invent what seems to make sense in the framework of the language being studied, based upon what is felt to belong to it. The ensuing exhilaration changes language learning into a sequence of exciting games. Much more ground is covered in each lesson and the level of retention appears unbelievable to the students coming into contact with The Silent Way for the first time. Since we offer many more languages than we have materials published, our language school in New York has been engaged in the last few years in a number of production projects, We have completed a comparative phonetic kit offering the “Fidels� of a dozen languages. The job of the Fidels is to let students know at a glance which sounds of the new language exist in the language they already know, and how many new sounds they will have to master. Besides the word charts published in 1963 for English, French and Spanish, we have the prototype series of charts for Italian and German and samples of these charts for Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Mandarin, Cantonese and Hindi. The pictures that have been published in 1963 are usable for the teaching of almost any language. The corresponding worksheets, if they do not already exist in a certain language can be produced in a very short time and duplicated.


3 Can Students Learn One New Language Every Year?

Three books extend the students’ range of use of the functional language that results from the study of the situations created using colored rods, word charts and pictures, and provide at the same time an insight into the cultural background of the peoples whose language they are studying and learning. Two filmstrips have been prepared for advanced students, one for English and one for Spanish. Video and audio-tapes, which can form the backbone of extended teacher training programs to make language teachers much more competent and com fortable than they currently are, also exist. In schools any language studied by The Silent Way could lead students in one year to achievements rarely reached at present in four or five years. This means that we may see the day when all students at school may be able to use with ease and competence from five to ten languages. In a world that values its heritages, such knowledge of a number of selected languages (the dominant ones of politics and commerce and the regional ones of one’s neighbors) may greatly assist in the understanding of what mankind as a whole has achieved and can look forward to achieving. What we learned in the last few years in the fields of the computer and TV is capable of extending our technology of teaching languages to the home through terminals and the electronic devices already discovered. The plans for prototype units and experimental trials are advanced enough to encourage us to say that a large scale solution exists.


4 How Shall I Spend My Working Life?

Over the years it has become clear that most people do not know how to answer this question. Indeed, most of us do not know how to decide whether society has any spot we can occupy and still be ourselves. The government’s press, literature, advertising, provide some information which, however, leaves much to guesswork for the young man and woman about to enter the job market. As a publisher in England, Dr. Gattegno conceived of a solution which if it were correct would be acclaimed by all as meeting the problem head-on. A series of books under the name of My Life and My Work started to appear early in 1964 and now comprises almost fifty titles. New titles are published in England at the rate of six per year. It is now regarded as by far the best series on the British market. Each new volume adds more glamour to the series and reviewers gladly find space to report on the new additions. Since the difficulty of the school or college graduate is due to his ignorance of the opportunities he can find in the world, and since man’s growth always takes place under the inspiration of people who have managed to use their years meaningfully and joyfully, it seemed sensible to present to the readers a first-hand account of what it means to be engaged in a particular job. Writers were asked by the editor to think of the readers, not to talk down, and to remain truthful all along


January 1973

when describing rewards and demands as they have known them in their own life. The series could only be an answer to the problem of choosing a career if the books were well written and pleasant to read, vivid portrayals of a social milieu. Therefore the books have become worth reading from the point of view of style, the unfolding of a plot, character development, and realism. They have earned a place on the shelves of English libraries, homes and general trade book stores. Because the various lifestyles form a mosaic of industrial, technological, commercial, professional society, the series contributes to filling an information gap in the social sciences; economics, trade, production, services, etc., have been humanized and become more personal because of the autobiographical approach. Indeed only when one sees the series on a shelf does one know that no student of society today can overlook the contribution the series makes and not lose touch with reality. These books are slowly becoming the accumulated evidence of the social content of the professions, the jobs, the way society uses its services. One cannot see a substitute for this series in this field. Of course, these books are sold to career guidance officers and are known in the classifications of books as career books. Reviewers unanimously hail the series as good reading for adults as well as for the adolescents which they aim at. This by-product of instructing the general public while helping young people to make up their minds is an additional tribute to the original intuition that created the series. Anyone in a job may know much of what his life offers and demands, but does he know as much of other opportunities which may still be open to him when he is studying a life that has been made part of this series? The real public for the series is everyone who wishes to know what his contemporary society offers, or almost everyone beyond school age. With fifty titles in the English series and six appearing every year, we have scouted around enough to know that a similar American series can meet similar needs. The American series will be original in at least 10

4 How Shall I Spend My Working Life?

two ways. Books will be optionally accompanied by color filmstrips and synchronized interview with the author on record or cassette. These additional illustrations will be made available to the reader who cannot always evole images to accompany words which came to the author precisely because of the images he holds in his mind. A second feature of the American series is the consequence of the impact of the new technological revolution on all walks of life. New professions appear all the time replacing functions which then disappear as jobs. The American editors are keenly interested in presenting a dynamic picture of the job market in this country so as to serve the readers in the three ways the English series did — entertaining, thanks to the uses of the language and the plot; instructing about the truth of the social components of the profession examined; inspiring the seeker of a social destiny that he can now make a meaningful choice of where to spend a large amount of his waking time. My Life and My Work met a need in England and only because of this, it became a successful series. It does not have much of a market outside of Britain or of countries resembling Britain, of which there are so few, except for students of the English language and the contemporary British social world. Therefore the need for an original American edition with American authors which we are in the process of launching now.


Chapter 5

We shall now look at a number of solutions we are working on in our research and development division to problems of education that are pressing in this country.

1 Testing - a system capable of continuously informing students, teachers, parents, administrators and the public at large of the way the time spent at school is being used by students for their own benefit. Everybody complains that the tests developed to evaluate schools are biased, prejudiced against some groups because they were prepared for other groups whose economic and cultural textures differ from theirs; but in spite of their weaknesses these tests continue to be used. Transcending social and economic factors, there are individual and personal factors involved in all learnings. Their recording in neutral terms (i.e. numerical) may produce a physiognomy of each individual learner which can feed back to him and his teachers what can be done to eliminate some weakness in his learning. This is indeed the purpose of any evaluation: to truly inform the public of what actually goes on in groups of learners in schools. We are now working on a lockstepped system of teaching and testing which will feed back to the learners at every stage of their work what they have either managed to become aware of, what they are involved in studying or that they have gained the level of facility which one can


January 1973

call mastery. We are doing this in the fields of English and mathematics for grades 1 - 6. As the material develops it becomes clear that we can test our way of teaching and affect it at the same time as the students get the needed feedbacks. The material is three things at once — a curriculum, a continuous feedback mechanism and the source of tests, each equivalent to the standardized tests, that can serve to inform the public of what the teachers are doing to make students benefit from their studies. In addition they remedy a number of the drawbacks of the intermittent administering of the official tests. For instance, the continuous charting of the continuous tests eliminates the bias of a particular state of mind or mood of students on the special day selected for testing, while the tests selected to give a representation of the work done have all the attributes of an assessment of where each student was at that time and how well he was doing. The daily or weekly tests we are producing are provisionally called mini tests and their value as a tool for teachers is now being evaluated on a sampling of a few thousand students in schools where we act as consultants.

2 Open Books Publishers in the U.S. have attempted for decades to produce materials that were “teacher-proof�, telling everyone that American teachers are so ill-equipped that they cannot be trusted to do the teaching they are hired to do. Although individualized instruction, computer aided instruction, programmed instruction have not made a dent in the down-trend of the quality of public schools, the behaviorists who theorize for education continue to insist that more of the same will succeed. At Educational Solutions we do all we can to give back to teachers their initiative, their sense of responsibility and when possible the enjoyment of working with fresh minds!


Chapter 5

Since it is true that only self-education can work, ultimately the principle of differences between individuals, which is the basis of all individualized programs, will be respected, but instead of only differentiating students by the pace with which they assimilate the curriculum we see that through their uniqueness they will structure uniquely the way they enter a field, glean what matters and what matters to them, and use it for the growth of their powers in relation to that field. The concept of “Open Books”, worked on by Dr. Gattegno since 1937 — from graduate school to the primary grades— is one of the most liberating channels of experience for students and teachers. The open books contain only questions but unless the tools for finding some of the answers are given with the questions it becomes a list or an empty table of contents. It is not an idle task to produce an open book of any subject matter, but once people know how to do this, the work of students is truly creative and individualized, enjoyed because a little beyond them but always accessible after some extension of their selves. We now have a number of open books in print, a number prepared for printing, and a number of others at various stages of readiness. The whole area of open books has a tremendous future because they alone cope with the constant increase in knowledge, the constant shift in what matters to successive generations of school students and is relevant to them. Open books make people into researchers, maintain the openness of the mind, the relating to the particular challenge confronted, the originality of the investigator, the establishment of adequate criteria related to what one is doing, why and how. Even if they did not do all this, they would be worthy of the educators’ attention. They represent a break through in the field of books for students and provide a chance of renewal after several centuries of domination by treatises and textbooks.


January 1973

3 Technology And Adult Education When the large electronic corporations entered the field of education a little over ten years ago, they turned to educators for help. After many very disappointing experiences and several millions of dollars they abandoned their projects one by one and only kept the publishing firms that were doing well in the traditional fields, selling textbooks and scientific magazines. Educators and engineers did not manage to develop a common language. This does not mean that the advances in technology cannot serve education. Both hardware and software are man-made. It seems that what is required is that an educator formulate a number of sufficiently vast challenges that only the computer, coupled or not with TV, can tackle in order for these instruments to find their due place in the field of education. At Educational Solutions we have done just this and our plans for the future include this effort at making happen what so many hoped to see happen a few years ago, but failed to happen because of timidity in some and lack of expertise in others. As the world becomes more “the village Earth� our projects will serve to indicate that the first intuition of those who are in contact with the powerful electronic instruments such as the computer and TV was valid in so far as it was a technical matter. Perhaps there are not as many billions of dollars to be made as was hoped in the 60’s but there certainly are many profitable enterprises, at least in our own development books. One of them is the enhancement of the mind of ordinary adults through the impact of television where the mere fact that sight puts our mind in contact with actual infities of impressions can provide each viewer with a way of thinking that our verbal schooling has not cultivated. We have already produced a number of samples of films as part of a whole library which can inspire a new way of thinking made available to everyone.


Chapter 5

Too often the control of a highly developed technology in the hands of an insufficiently developed humanity has led to a feeling of despair for the future. Perhaps education can function to man’s benefit if each of us is made to know that the mind of every one of us is capable of what has been the privilege of the few who taught themselves and found themselves. This tremendous educational problem may have a solution that will be recognized as soon as it is offered on the market.

4 Meeting The Needs Of The Future Corporations are supposed to make money for their stockholders. If this were their sole aim no one would talk of caring for the corporate image. Making money may be simply the by-product of having something to offer that the public wants to own, and the feedback that indeed one has found that this is the case with what one is offering. For Educational Solutions this has been the criterion all along. Even if we did not make much and often find that we should be more attentive to the money side of business, we move ahead to always offer more services and materials than to pursue more vigorously a successful line. This is founded on our knowledge that to be successful in education is equivalent to remaining in contact with the totality of the challenges, and these include the research on the science of education, the seminars with professors to improve college education, the workshops for teachers in all areas to make explicit what the subordination of teaching to learning means in the specific areas and as classroom activity, the renewal of the presentation and uses of materials, the harmonizing of technology and the needs of students leading to new and powerful contributions whose use permit the tackling of huge tasks like the eradication of illiteracy on our planet at as low a cost as the mass media permit. Educational Solutions is the kind of corporation that lives on the returns of correctly assessing the needs of educators and of the public 17

January 1973

for education, rather than on organization, administration and capital. Four years of existence may not be a measure of our viability, but that measure may exist if every year we can write a report showing that new projects have been launched and welcomed. Another way of serving more fronts may be found in linking Educational Solutions’ fertile and adequate answers to difficult and urgent problems with existing well organized and smoothly running outlets.

This first issue of our 1973 Newsletter may serve to tell you more precisely to which kind of educational business you belong and which place you can find for yourself in it. In previous issues we studied our way of running our workshops for teachers and we published articles on educational matters related to our work in schools. This will be continued and expanded in the coming issues. C. Gattegno      


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.

January 1973  

Newsletter, Vol. II No. 2, January 1973

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