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Affectivity And Learning

Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc.

Caleb Gattegno

Newsletter

vol. IV no. 5

June 1975


First published in 1975. Reprinted in 2009. Copyright Š 1975-2009 Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc. Author: Caleb Gattegno All rights reserved ISBN 978-0-87825-280-0 Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc. 2nd Floor 99 University Place, New York, N.Y. 10003-4555 www.EducationalSolutions.com


Much has been written in psychology on perception, on cognition and animal learning. Psychoanalysis and other deep psychologies provide large numbers of examples of human behaviors related to the emotional life of individuals, often patients, labeled as sick by themselves or others. Affectivity is a new word among educators. Dr. Gattegno’s book “Introduction à la psychologie de l’affectivité,” written in 1950 and published in 1952, was an attempt to draw attention to its importance in education, particularly in the case of secondary school students. Since that time, while continuing his work on affectivity, especially in its relation to learning, he has found that many people are open to such studies even though they are a minute proportion of those who are engaged full time in working in education without the benefits of its contribution to their enlightenment. This Newsletter is devoted to the presentation of some of his findings, most of them either not yet published or scattered in a number of publications, not all in English. Perhaps they will occupy some readers during the coming summer.


Table of Contents

1 Affectivity, Energy And Mental Dynamics.......................... 1 2 Emotions, Feelings And Sentiments .................................. 5 3 How To Reach Knowledge Of Affectivity ........................... 9 4 learning Defined In Affective Terms ............................... 13 A Demonstration At A College Level ....................................17 News Items ......................................................................... 23


1 Affectivity, Energy And Mental Dynamics

If we can make people aware of the existence of a mental energy in themselves we have managed one of the most useful moves in making them independent in their study of learning. It may be easy to make people think that there must be an energy component in some functionings, but only if one is aware of the actual energy interchanges within one’s psychosomatic being will affectivity actually begin to be known. One way of doing it is by catching oneself becoming angry, or experiencing the swell of energy that is experienced in conjunction with true indignation, or in any other obvious display of considerable mental energy suddenly mobilized when one is jolted by a sound, or a worry, by witnessing a tantrum or simply experiencing an intense fear. Another way, much more subtle but under our direct control, is to be watchful of how energy is being used in as many voluntary activities as one is engaged in: for example, while writing or typing or playing an instrument, holding the steering wheel or pressing one’s foot on the accelerator. To get up, to sit up, we use energy that can be commanded at will to be mobilized in specific ways. In speaking, we must energize the moving parts in our mouth. And we mobilize energy in order to refrain from speaking on some occasions.

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Affectivity And Learning

It is clear that our will is intimately linked to all these expressions of how energy is channeled, used, held up. Our will is one of the manifestations of our self in relation to energy. From this it can be said that our affectivity expresses itself through our will, and that our will is an agent of the self as affectivity. The storage of the energy of the self is mobilized or immobilized by our will. Hence knowing oneself as a will serves to let one know oneself as affectivity, and conversely. And since we function all day through our will we have a permanent instrument for the study of affectivity in the many manifestations of the self. When the amounts of displaced energy are considerable, it is relatively easy to be with our affectivity. But our evolution has taken us from activities that clearly need lots of energy to those which delegate the effort to another system using a form of energy found in the world around: a waterfall, the wind, animals, gravity, heat, electricity, and so on. Men have managed to concentrate on the use of their minds to master the uses of existing cosmic energy through mental dynamics. This highly efficient use of ourselves still uses up energy, but the amounts are minute and the yield as if out of all proportion. Because of the swift changes in these minute amounts of energy it is harder to feel that we are indeed moving energy in our thinking processes. Still we cannot conceive today that any movement can take place without some impulse and some expenditure of energy, however small. We therefore accept intellectually, without any concomitant feeling, that our minds are activated by the consumption of what we must call mental energy. To become aware of mental dynamics is to know that our minds can intervene in situations and either change them according to an intention, using the will, or draw from them new components unstressed till then. (This privileged way of learning in the field of human skills is inaccessible to laboratory techniques and therefore mostly unsuspected by investigators of the mind) To become aware of mental dynamics is to reach what I have called elsewhere “the algebra 2


1 Affectivity, Energy And Mental Dynamics

of the mind” and to discover oneself as an inventive person. The awareness of the role of mental dynamics in learning to read and learning mathematics has definitely altered the face of things. But what we want to stress here is the impact of such an awareness on one self as a functioning mind. On the one hand it maintains interest, procures motivation, shown outwardly by a willingness to be with the challenge and to discard distractions, and on the other hand it generates the most precious concomitant feeling of oneself as a person engaged in one’s own growth and evolution. It is the awareness of one’s meaningfulness, responsibility, autonomy, which accompanies the sense of having a deep access to what one is doing, that produces the affective dimension that creative writers, artists, scientists, talk about as present in them in their creative work. What we are saying here is that everyone can have it, provided the awareness of oneself as energy that is capable of being directed by one’s will is brought about. The awareness of oneself as affectivity carries with it a sense of wholeness, of wholesomeness, that can dwell in one’s self at the same time as awareness of, say, rheumatism, partial paralysis, some handicaps suffered accidentally after conception or birth. Affectivity is another word for the available spiritual, mental, somatic energy, in close contact with the will and with the whole self through awareness. Therefore we have to re sort to it all the time we generate new forms, which may be new images, new thoughts, new projects, and so on. It is the lever of advance, progress, evolution, and needs to be known by all of us, who benefit only from self education.

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2 Emotions, Feelings And Sentiments

When we try to understand affectivity in its concrete expression we find that the three words in the title come up, although perhaps not all at once to everybody. We all know that there are emotions which overwhelm us and for which we have only a few labels, such as anger, fear, love. The contrast between the existence of so many words to describe plants or animals or shapes and so few for this area of experience, although it is one that we never leave, must have some profound reason. Can it be because of the amount of energy, so large in affective movements and so tenuous in thoughts concerning our perceptions of the outside world? Certainly the awareness of “mental energy� as it appears in our experience of emotions in contrast with that which appears in conjunction with our thoughts, can serve as a guide for us when we want to study that realm more closely. Emotions are obviously linked with a number of our somatic functions. That is why emotions have somatic components, visible from the outside, which are called the expressions of emotions. They help us to translate what goes on within ourselves into appearances which in turn help us suspect the state of being of those we may meet occasionally or regularly. Redness or whiteness of the face or skin convey very different information about a person to an onlooker. Relaxation or trembling, frowns or

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smoothness of the face, and so on, are all signs we associate at once with emotions. Masks can make them into stereotypes. But we can “educate” ourselves and either not show the expressions of emotions or not be subject to them in circumstances which formerly produced them. For the student of affectivity there are many challenges to consider at the same time and one can be helped by the creation of instruments of study that go beyond, say, a classification of the expressions of emotions. This once was considered the only scientific approach to affectivity. In my studies I have been helped when I put the question to myself: how does it occur to me to call by the same word “fear” two such different experiences as being in a bad storm or finding myself on the edge of a sheer drop in the path I am walking along? The unique, existential, here and now, awareness makes the difference; what makes the similarity? Physicists have been forced to distinguish, in their studies of work or the various forms of mechanical energy, factors referring to intensity from those referring to extension. For example, in free fall: mass refers to extension, and weight to intensity. Both need to be of a certain magnitude to produce a sizeable effect. In a similar manner we can perhaps consider that each amount of energy mobilized here and now, in a given emotion, can be measured by one’s consciousness as having a certain extent and a certain intensity. Awareness of the extent can be separated from that of intensity and each known per se. To this inner study we give ourselves on many occasions and circumstances in life, especially during adolescence when we give this top priority over other experiences. We are equipped with sensors (probably connected with some brain tissue) which can be dwelled in by consciousness and which will tell us that the “state” of the mobilized energy is such and such — a kind of

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2 Emotions, Feelings And Sentiments

“tone” of the emotion in the here and now. Recognized per se it becomes a reality by itself and one day is labeled distinctively to indicate the permanence of the awareness associated with it. Thus out of multitudes of emotions associated with existential living, come feelings which are acknowledged by the self as a property of the emotions, distinguishable from the emotions and recognizable per se. Feelings then become an object of study. For example one may want to work on feelings as a warning system to prepare oneself not to permit amounts of energy to be mobilized in emotions beyond or below a certain level. Feelings are more fleeting than emotions; they need little energy to come into being. They can be worked on further so that they require less and less energy to be brought to consciousness, say as a symbol. When living one’s affective life consciously, one can entertain the virtuality of emotions and this possibility exists only because the self can evoke the tone without mobilizing the energy. The inner life of writers of novels, short stories and plays, is filled with such mental material linked with the potential of their energy (in any quantity) and worked on virtually. Thus it is possible to reserve the word emotions for the actual spurts of energy that occupy the self in its somatic form, and the word feelings for a direct connection of consciousness to a property of emotions which does not require their actualization. But the process does not stop there. Feelings in turn can become objects of attention and one of their properties be singled out and dwelt in. When this new movement itself becomes a preoccupation of the self, feelings get categorized and the new entity can be called sentiments (for it is plural as soon as it covers all feelings). There are noble feelings, mean feelings, feelings related to a concept, such as the feelings for one’s country that form the sentiment of patriotism.

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To become more embracing the mental experience loses some of its actuality and the process of passing from emotions to feelings and from feelings to sentiments can be seen as a process of abstraction because the self extracts itself from a number of concomitant components found in the more primitive experiences. It is not a moral hierarchy. Feelings are not “better” than emotions, nor sentiments than feelings. It is a temporal hierarchy in that emotions must exist before one of their properties can be singled out. There can be “mixed” emotions only because the overall adaptation of the self here and now can be scanned by a spectrum of feelings and in them consciousness can find the co-presence of more than one tone, one feeling. One can also have mixed feelings. For example, with respect to religion or to a political party it is possible to be “in” and “out” at the same time for one can distinguish the presence of more than one sentiment in a single loyalty. This short exploration of ordinary matters in everyone’s life will be needed at some points in what follows.

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3 How To Reach Knowledge Of Affectivity

As people become older and are more and more engaged in social activities they develop ways of working, of using themselves, that suggest to them that results count. Hence most adults are more interested in “product” than they are in “process.” Since adults are the “educators” of today, their ways of working receive preferential treatment in adult-dominated society, and through the family and the schools the young generation is polarized towards results and product. Still, growth demands of the individual that he should be involved in the process of growing; young children and adolescents therefore attempt to reconcile the two by yielding what is expected of them while remaining busy, when on their own, with what matters for their own growth. Adolescents find it harder to meet both demands than boys and girls: first, because they are moved to look inside themselves and, second, because action occupies the younger ones and action somehow yields results. Every adult who has kept the adolescent alive in himself can act as an adolescent in his solitary activities, including feeling and thinking, although in his public activities he will stress results and possibly obtain them. But not all adults consider it valuable to keep the adolescent alive in them. They consider that it makes them sentimental in a world of struggle and competition for survival. Hence the

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polarization towards looking from the outside, an “objective” look at most things. If “objective” also means “what is true” and not only something seen from the outside, it becomes imperative that we recognize that since products result from process, processes deserve all our attention. In the case of all that goes on in each of us when we are learning, it is clear that process is everything and that only oneself can be aware of it. Attention to one’s inner dynamics is neither a luxury nor an idle activity; it is indispensable. At first we may need loaded inner movements to recognize that the two components of the self and energy are present and that the self can command energy through the will; for instance, the movements of one’s jealousy or possessiveness. We can use similar examples and the many opportunities they provide us to come to a clear realization 1

that there is a universe in our inner life to which we can have more and more access,

2 that attending to this universe is not altogether a new activity since as children and adolescents we engaged in it, 3 that we can grow in entertaining it, as we do in other areas, through attention, practice, conscious consideration, 4 that we can become expert at it as in other fields and activities, 5 that we can be as “objective” in this area as we have become in others, 6 that it gains in importance and significance as we entertain it more, 7 that it may totally transform our view of life by transforming ourselves, generating the field of human sciences, 10


3 How To Reach Knowledge Of Affectivity

8 that we can shift from loaded movements to more subtle ones, 9 that we can reach affectivity in all our functionings and, 10 that we can use affectivity as the light for our simultaneous understanding of what is ourselves and what is not. There are of course many more stages in our capacity to reach and the phenomenology of reaching affectivity existentially, but the above may be sufficient for our present purpose: to trace one way that can lead to the knowledge of affectivity by everyone, and to see why it is necessary to work on it although it is our birthright. Those of us who were lucky enough not to lose contact with affectivity and paid the price to maintain it as a light in their inner lives, are obviously better prepared to undertake some studies, dynamic ones, in the human sciences than those who only gather statistics on human behaviors. Since affectivity is not a behavior such statistics cannot even assert its existence. The loss that follows from this omission can only be felt by those who know it exists when there are crises of knowledge as there are today. When more people are seriously interested in understanding the reality of human dynamics, of life as it takes place in the world here and now, a correct grasp of affectivity will be valued for the enormous yield of new insights and understandings that follow from it, particularly in the field of learning and therefore education. Writing about this area at this time either produces special articles in which pinpointed problems are worked on, and perhaps solved, or calls for a new orientation in the minds of people who are engaged in activities related to human evolution. In this Newsletter the second alternative has been followed, but in the solutions we already offer educators the first has been multiplied many times in order to take care of the detailed requirements of teaching and learning in various fields. The major obstacle I have found in working with adults has been to make them realize that the very subtle movements of the mind are 11


Affectivity And Learning

energized in the same manner as emotions and feelings but with amounts of energy so minute that only extremely sensitive instruments can detect them. Of course the most sensitive instrument I know is the self, aware of itself as energy, as will, and in immediate and intimate contact with its own functionings. This obvious observation (obvious to me) seems to be the work of my imagination to those who still have to gain access to their affectivity as something to live rather than be lived by.

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4 learning Defined In Affective Terms

We need to work on a small number of examples since learning is as vast as life and the most general statement may be the least useful. A skill, such as playing an instrument, has to be learned. We see straight away that affectivity may be involved when a player comes to the stage of being related to the content of a piece of music which he has to re - produce with feeling. Here we want to look at learning to play the instrument as such, even if it is done from a certain point on via melodies that have to be produced “correctly.” Because the skill we are considering involves voluntary muscles — of the hands or of the mouth, the feet or of the rest of the body, according to the instrument — the amount of energy that has to be put in every movement of the fingers or lips, etc., must be clearly defined, and this is a function of knowing pinpointedly how affectivity must be used. Still this is not all; there is immediate feedback from the self which judges that what was done was precisely what was intended, or needs such or such an alteration in terms of energy. This energy change may be in amount, producing more or less intense sounds, or in speed of alteration, affecting the details of the production. Hence affectivity is not only involved as a whole in the feelings which guide our connection to the piece, so that we end up with our personal interpretation and rendering of the piece, but is also involved at every

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moment in the minute handling of the economics of the energy of each movement. While the first can be experienced by outsiders observing a person at an instrument — how the body movements, the color of the skin, the general composure, are affected by the tone of the piece — the second is accessible only to the initiated, to the keen observer, and perhaps only to a sensitive teacher of that instrument. Of course this example is only one among many. Driving a car, although seemingly a gross activity compared with playing a musical instrument, can be seen as being just as subtle and as demanding. If we imagine that parts of the driving mechanism have far less inertia than they really do, so that the wheel or the accelerator will respond to almost infinitesimal alterations of energy, we can see driving as we see playing music. The tongue or the lips have an inertia, but it is experienced as almost zero when we speak animatedly. As babies, we learned to use these instruments for talking precisely in the way that musicians learn to use their somatic instruments to master playing. We also had to learn to energize particular muscles in order to walk or jump. Later on, as boys and girls, in order to master the very many precisely detailed actions characteristic of that age, we had to use the same kind of awareness of the dynamics of the energy inputs that lead to the control of action. When we look at our scholastic learning we find that we cannot feel that we are mobilizing energy in order to hold in our memory the facts of mathematics, say. But these facts, because they could be formulated differently (as they are in various languages), are not “necessary” but arbitrary and have to be held as they are. Hence the self must delegate a small part of itself to hold each fact. I have called an “ogden” the unit of mental energy which must be allocated to form a memory track. The language of ogdens is an outcome of the awareness of the presence of affectivity in learning. Long before that language was developed I found evidence that each thought mobilized energy in the soma that was detectable with an instrument I called the “Gayograph.” Thanks to electronic magnification we can today reach the low levels of energy exchanges that have escaped ordinary awareness, because of our lack of interest in such thresholds, and make them visible.

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4 learning Defined In Affective Terms

In this article we are mainly stressing that the most powerful instrument for finding the place of affectivity in learning remains our awareness of affectivity, since it is this which creates both the experiments and the material instruments, for its study. Because the phenomena are directly accessible to a self which is examining or watching itself, each of us can become a student of affectivity and begin to gather the crop of facts left almost untouched by previous generations. The importance for education of knowing learning in terms of affectivity cannot escape anyone who knows that appearances are not an objective record of what goes on. Learning takes place within individuals and is therefore invisible to purely optical instruments — including our eyes if they only function under external impacts. We need to know intimately that energy is involved in learning in order to develop the techniques and materials which ease the work. Since even memorization requires energy — in the form of ogdens — and since nothing is static in our minds, it becomes of paramount importance for those who want to improve teaching, anywhere and in any field in relation to the learning of students, first, to reach a personal awareness of affectivity in each learning, and, second, to understand its dynamics in actuality. A number of my writings exist in order to present to the public what has come my way in this field of study and may serve as an introduction where none existed before. I can say definitely that only the continuous involvement of my self in that universe has made it possible for me to feel that I could break through to the invisible reality of learning in others and to find ways of helping those in need. Caleb Gattegno

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To supplement these writings readers can look at: The Universe of Babies Of Boys & Girls The Adolescent and His Self (Conscience de la Conscience, only in French) The Mind Teaches the Brain All available from Educational Solutions Inc., New York City.

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A Demonstration At A College Level

During the four days of June 2 - 5 a shorter experiment similar to the one mentioned in the News Items took place at College III of the University of Massachusetts in Boston. The format of teaching in the morning for 3 hours and having a staff seminar after the lessons for another 4 hours was adopted as the most effective in order 1) to convince the staff of the Basic Skills Department that Educational Solutions had something to offer and 2) to give that staff a certain amount of training. The class was initially composed of twelve students , all adults over 30 except one, all already holding jobs and taking advantage of the College III schedule to obtain a degree while remaining at their job almost full time. Eight of the students came for the four days, three for two days and one left soon after starting. The adopted timetable reserved the first 1 hours to mathematics and the rest was dedicated to English. The assignment was to teach algebra, that most of the class dreaded and was weak at, and to involve them in the reading and writing of English so that they could feel that the written medium was available to them to mold according to their needs. Dr. Gattegno was the guest teacher and seminar leader. A very brief summary of these four days is all that can be attempted here.

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When working with people traumatized by their early study of mathematics it is often very useful not to bring up any matter which will awaken their resistance. Hence, carefully avoiding any reference to complicated and swift computations, it is possible to awake in the students a completely new awareness of mathematics simply by involving them in noticing what happens to operations. Algebra, seen as operations upon operations, can in a very short time yield a number of successful solutions of more and more complex equations. Students become aware that solutions of the given equations can be found safely and often swiftly, simply by reversing the order of the operations and replacing each operation by its inverse. For example, “I think of a number, double it, then add 5, and the result is 13� requires one to subtract 5 from the 13 first and then halve. Examples became longer and longer and their solutions found more and more quickly, showing the students’ confidence that they were in control. The second day saw the students manage to undo equations in which the figures used during the first day had disappeared completely and in which various letters standing for unspecified numbers could be isolated and expressed in terms of the remaining letters. The third day was taken by transforming a simple manipulation of a sheet of paper into the special arithmetic of the squares of numbers ending in 5. The lesson ended with calculations that can become easy by noticing a particular transformation, such as multiplying two-figure numbers by 11. Since the mental multiplication of two consecutive numbers was needed for the first problem, in the special case of numbers ending in 0 and in 1, this session on swift calculations appeared capable of sweeping away the fears the students brought with them although only a few examples had been worked out. On this occasion equivalent expressions were deliberately introduced to show the relation of language and mathematics. The operations of squares and square roots were used. In the fourth session students were asked to solve mentally special simultaneous equations and to discover how they did it. Since it was possible to lead them to the examination of what they were doing, they formulated the solutions competently and confidently. The transformation of the data was perceived as not affecting the operations and therefore the students knew how to solve pairs of equations which would have looked awful and very discouraging on the first day. An application to word problems followed. 18


A Demonstration At A College Level

In the feedback session the dominant note was one of recuperated confidence that led the students to state that now they would look at mathematics as feasible and as yielding the appropriate instructions in the statements themselves. The English classes were less spectacular, but not less instructive. Because the challenges were at hand and easily grasped, the work was smooth. Still, all of the challenges were aimed at convincing the students that their mastery of the spoken language, sufficient to make them express what they wanted all day every day, could become the object of their study and awareness and lead to greater ease in writing. On the first day, a simple exercise in making three sentences in which a given word was to be placed in the first, or the last, position or anywhere in between, was followed by a study of the kinds of words that are not allowed to be left at the end of a sentence (except some very contrived ones which were left out by agreement). Given three words at random, putting one first, one last, and one in the middle, was it possible always to produce sentences that make sense? Each student offered solutions. They all showed something interesting about the writer and when read aloud they generated a fellowship in the room as it seemed that the students (and the staff) were getting acquainted with each other. The students appeared as more daring in this exercise than expected by the staff. The second day was devoted to showing how the use of the comprehension that accompanies the spoken language could be used for the comprehension of written statements. The first example was: “I said are not and and and and are are not the same,” — an excellent example because there is either zero or 100% comprehension according to how the sentence is said. The second example used the subtle changes of meaning that follow the addition of sets of words in the sequence: “I know that you know,” “I know that you know that I know,” “I know that you know that I know that you know,” and so on.

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Both examples stimulated the students to use their imagination, their reasoning powers, their capacity to listen to their voice and discover the criteria that insured that comprehension was taking place. The third day, eight of the twelve charts for “English-the Silent Way” were hung up. Examples of sentences were shown and then the students were requested to offer their own. By limiting the number of words per sentence, it became clear that restriction is a source of inspiration to human minds and much that was written, and later read aloud, was of a definite quality, as the staff remarked. The last day, copies of “Short Passages” were distributed and a twopage story read. Each student was to read only one paragraph, but some preferred to read on in order to reach the end of a certain point. The discussion that followed was broad, animated, factual, but also showed a common sense and an aesthetic sense that would help the students when they looked at reading beyond the requirements of college testing. An overall feedback of a very few minutes revealed that the students were certain that they preferred the way of working offered to them on these four mornings to those they had experienced from the time they went to school. They had eliminated fears and detached themselves from the stigma of their past. They would have liked to continue such remedial work and to know themselves better as learners. Each of the four afternoons with the staff started with an hour of postmortem of the lessons. Since there was a need for the teachers to increase their powers of observation of the many invisible moves that take place in human beings while learning, it was decided that the notes taken by some of the observers should reflect in one column the students’ responses (verbal or otherwise), the matter studied and the manner in which it was studied in a second, and in a third what the teacher was doing or saying. This decision helped to gather facts and to rely more on them in the study of the lessons than on opinions. Generally speaking a number of the features of the lessons convinced the staff that there was some wisdom in devoting time at the beginning 20


A Demonstration At A College Level

of each student’s college career to developing his or her powers of study; that it was a mistake in the case of a number of students to demand that they plunge into texts not written for unprepared students. The salient feature was the speed with which remediation could be achieved. Fear that there would be no time left after remediation for the study of the curriculum and the acquisition of the required competency, was replaced by hope which resulted from a new insight into the overall strength of the students that permitted a more adequate attack on the obstacles actually encountered in their studies. Again generally speaking, the subordination of teaching to learning was warmly accepted as a way of working in the here and now with every student in any area, provided the teacher watched old habits and those useless beliefs which made the subject matter the most important link between teacher and student. A victim of the experiment was the simplistic view that reward and punishment (today dubbed positive and negative reinforcement) has a place in college work for students too traumatized to function.

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News Items

1 After our experiment of putting out a restricted printing of Part 1 of the text “Of Boys and Girls” a few weeks ago, we are trying another publication experiment. The text of “The Mind Teaches The Brain,” which we cannot publish as a full-fledged book at this moment, will appear soon as a restricted printing of 200 copies and will be sold as a signed publication. The three parts are sold as one book but can be read in any order. In this work Dr. Gattegno shares much of his reflection on vital problems that have occupied him all his life. For that reason we have not hesitated to re produce directly the typed manuscript whereas the previous publication had already been set for printing. In the next issue of Volume V of this Newsletter we hope to include a review of this writing, as it is considered by Dr. Gattegno to be one of his major contributions in the fields of the human sciences. Part 1 is the more technical of the three parts and refers in numerous places to biology, chemistry and physics. Part 2 is devoted to the essential learnings after birth, while Part 3 is concerned with the truly human issues, including aesthetics, ethics and mysticism. 2 We heard recently from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education of the Office of Education of H. E. W. in Washington D. C. that we had been recommended to be contracted to carry out an experiment in conjunction with Staten Island Community College of C.U.N.Y. This project will start this June 30th and will

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involve us in a summer program for 6 weeks. After this a follow-up observation of the 50 students, during the school year starting next September, will permit the assessment of the effect of this intensive preparation on a significant number of freshmen in a two-year college. This is the first test ever of the subordination of teaching to learning, at college level and of a proposal that an intensive six-week course run by people expert in this approach can make a real difference in the study life of open admission students. We shall report on this in later issues of this Newsletter. 3 Even as I read the first few pages of the Preface and Introduction of Dr. Gattegno’s book, “Of Boys and Girls” I was drawn into the writing as if attracted by a powerful force that demanded my complete attention. My concentration remained riveted to the exposition, until in two sittings, I finished the entire book. In the end, I felt excited and refreshed. For me, this was a very rare occurrence reserved only for an occasional light novel, a description which hardly applied to “Of Boys and Girls.” It is instead a deep and serious study of the period of life stretching between babyhood and adolescence. No doubt, the style yields a narrative that flows easily and naturally from one sentence to the next, from one paragraph to the next, etc., thus inviting the reader to go on and on. But my intense involvement in it can only be explained by the truths that were unveiled. Not facts, but those insights which made me find within myself that component which Gattegno finds at work in and accountable for all stages of growth — the self. A profound change was accomplished within me as I recognized that aspect which is in control of and can be separated from all the rest. I understood that I really am more than my habits, or my inheritance, or the impacts of the environment. As the chapters unfold, such diverse aspects as drawing and morality, partnerships and games, become unified, and the centrality of the self engaged in the study of actions as a way of knowing becomes apparent. I was invigorated to share a way of looking at a period of life which 24


News Items

seemed at all times to account for the complexity that underlies the reality of any one life. My sense of truth was never violated as my experiences of myself as a child and of other children were again and again confirmed and enhanced. I had the opportunity to really know why so many hours are spent in drawing, or arguing, or playing marbles. The book offers a fine sense of the totality of the involvement of persons in their activities, and of the nature of the learnings that only such involvement can produce. Those who are at all acquainted with Dr. Gattegno’s work will not be surprised to find in “Of Boys and Girls” a radical departure from the ways of working on understanding this period of life which are espoused by virtually every popularly accepted expert in the field (though it is freely admitted that years of using such procedures have yielded little progress in knowing what boys and girls are actually doing with themselves). The justification for adopting the instruments for study that Gattegno proposes is, as he suggests in the Introduction, the uncovering for the reader of “a tangible reality that will be confirmed to exist for all boys and girls . . . all over the world.” The attraction and importance of the book is that it makes possible this uncovering at last. Ted Swartz 4 During the weekend of June 13-15 we shall give the first of the Silent Way classes for the Arabic language and possibly give this old language — suddenly become important and international — the exposure it deserves. For ourselves, engaged in finding working solutions to pedagogical problems, the challenge of presenting Arabic in a manner that makes its learning effective while joyful was an inspiration. We now have what can be termed an elegant solution to a truly difficult problem. In a later issue of this Newsletter we may present our readers with more detail on this matter as we report on how students met our solution for the first time.

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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.

www.EducationalSolutions.com

Affectivity And Learning  

Newsletter, Vol. IV No. 5, June 1975

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