Back To Basics And More
Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc.
vol. VI no. 1
First published in 1976. Reprinted in 2009. Copyright ÂŠ 1976-2009 Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc. Author: Caleb Gattegno All rights reserved ISBN 978-0-87825-287-9 Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc. 2nd Floor 99 University Place, New York, N.Y. 10003-4555 www.EducationalSolutions.com
Visitors to schools where Educational Solutions Inc. was involved in improving teaching often commented that they would have liked to see more than the concentration on the basics they found there. They were impressed by the computational feats they witnessed, by the fluency in reading and the quality of the spelling children in their early grades were displaying; but they would ask why we did not pay greater attention to non-basic subjects perhaps much more attractive to students, such as the arts, movement or even environmental studies. For years we have argued that luxuries need to be afforded only after essentials have been secured. A good basis in oneâ€™s language (spoken and written) and in mathematics does many things: 1
it makes students feel confident that they have the tools of expression and communication and that they can cope with social requirements where so much has been quantified;
2 it puts at the disposal of the students the means without which no comprehension of social studies or handling of elementary economic matters is possible. While for some persons simply coping with forms to read and fill out is essential for survival, for most people in a literate and technological society, the use of themselves as readers, writers and competent calculators permits them to be active members of the community; 3 it can serve to show students that intellectual discipline in a number of important areas in life is useful and for more activities besides the basic subjects. In our approaches to teaching the native language and mathematics, we give students an entry into what needs to be done to reach mastery at every stage, thus guaranteeing mastery of the whole area. We do not leave for later the patching up of situations unless these result from circumstances beyond our control (late entry into the system, or long absence because of sickness). On the whole we see to it that students make sense of the challenges presented, at the time they are presented, and we provide the instruments for that understanding. We accomplish this through our techniques and our materials. We do the one thing
most people want most, and that is: guarantee success for all but a very small minority of special cases. Rather than expensive materials, we use our inexpensive and lasting ones which are different in appearance and content from those ordinarily found in classrooms. Our materials do not require expertise for their care as electronic equipment would. They are almost selfexplanatory, and teachers improve in their use by using them. If initial guidance is required it is mainly because we use ways of working not yet generally met in teachersâ€™ colleges: the guidance can be short, the shorter if it is more intensive. One week is ample for such preparation when guided by a competent teacher-of-teachers, whom we can provide. From our comparative tables of costs for implementing basic programs in districts or schools, one can see how enormous the savings could be when our approach is selected. This will make finance officers happy since they will be providing what is needed while remaining within ever more restrictive fundings. For once, we can together deliver, at an eminently reasonable cost and with a sense of responsibility, what parents and the general public expect from their schools.
Table of Contents
What Is Basic? ...................................................................... 1 Back To Basics â€“ And More In Elementary Education........... 3 What Is Basics In Reading .................................................... 7 What Is Basic In Mathematics?........................................... 13 What Is Basic For Foreign Language Learning ................... 19 What Is Basic In Social Studies? ......................................... 25 What Is Basic In The Natural Sciences? .............................. 31 What We Can Now Afford Thanks To Our Attention To Basics..................................... 35 News Item .......................................................................... 37
What Is Basic?
In the following articles we attempt to clarify for all concerned what can be considered as basic when the correct perspective of what schools should be doing and can do is taken into account. Although it is clear to all that schools are agencies that are supported by those who pay for them and therefore can legitimately use them for their ends, it is less clear that once created they become entities of their own that can develop their own features and affect lives differently than was conceived by their originators. Universal education is now part of all democratic nations, whatever their ideologies, and the newest countries want it at least as much as the older ones. Universal education places constraints on the activities that go on in schools since education has to cater both for the needs of the existing society in the views of the ruling groups, and for the demands of an unknown future, especially in a fast changing world. Within these terms of reference we can ask again: “What is basic?” so that we do not miss important components in the situation. It is no one’s Interest to make gross errors due to insufficient thinking about the present state of affairs. It is everybody’s interest to reach a correct assessment of what needs to be done and to see it that it is done. One way of operating is to use a framework that every reader will at once agree with because it refers to what is generally called basic
Back To Basics And More
(though for what real reasons we do not quite know), i.e. the 3 R’s, and to examine whether today we can take care of the demands of the future — in which our children will operate and face their challenges — while we do the best possible job on the 3 R’s. This new component refers to the two words “and more” after “Back to Basic” in the title of this Newsletter. We shall adopt this procedure because we believe that it will serve the cause of children and of society as it is today and will be in the future. If it helps teachers, administrators and the school boards in making up their minds we shall have done our job. For most of us in education today, two of the R’s (reading and writing) are seen as two aspects of the same study, that of the field of expression and communication in the native language and we shall treat them together. It will make things clearer and thus more helpful for those who have to act. The third R is probably at the source of the apparent reversal to the basics because “modern math” is being judged as an error of the 60’s and the flaws in the implementation of an idea are being confused with the soundness of the idea itself. Mathematics is a world, an ever expanding universe with a long past and presumably a healthy long future. Can we in that “R” do more than secure the bases? Can we offer everyone the required competence while fertilizing the mind? We think we can. Soon after we have adequately treated the 3 R’s, the question will be raises: are there no similar bases for the other school subjects such as social studies, the sciences and perhaps a second language (in the case of bilingual students)? To meet these requirements we have to look at school subjects in terms of experience, not of knowledge to be retained. In fact, it is possible (and we hope to do it in this Newsletter) to see what the educational meaning of all school activities is, i.e., what is left of them in the functioning of each individual when what was seen as remembered knowledge becomes retained facility, widened sensitivity, more intelligent behavior. All this we call the education of the individual because we see it as the purpose of what we do with ourselves all the time when we feel that we have grown and are better adjusted to meeting the demands and surprises of life.
Back To Basics – And More In Elementary Education
Since universal education became a way of life in democratic societies, the 3 R’s have been considered basic in elementary schools. Elementary schools aim at making sure (whether or not they succeed is another question) that reading, writing and arithmetic becomes a natural part of the functioning of those who go through them. From a different point of view the same can be stated as: everyone has a right to learn to read and write, and to use one’s mental capabilities to calculate reasonably well, since these skills enable one to extend one’s interests, and are needed for one to be a useful member of the society in which one provide schools for this purpose. At the same time individuals in these societies expect that the machinery set up for this purpose yields the results. For innovative minds and experimenters in education the question has been: must the basics be given through rote memorization and the techniques of reward and punishment, or is it possible to have better ways of doing the job? By trying to abandon the rigid ways of teaching and by being critical of the imposition of animal learning patterns on humans, the innovators have served educational endeavor. But did their efforts bring sufficient vigor to the human learning processes, and help all the elementary school children acquire the facility to function well in what they learn? The answer is in the statistics which show that too large a proportion of school children leave elementary schools as virtual non-readers and lack interest and proficiency in mathematics. Some of the fault may lie in the techniques of testing and arriving at 3
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these figures. This is another issue. On the whole it seems that the new methods of teaching proposed, professed, and practiced for the last 3 to 4 decades somehow lost sight of the 3 R’s schools are supposed to deliver. These methods, though they claimed to be child centered, did not manage to serve the children as they expanding their horizons and find their rightful place in society. Hence the emergence of a recent movement under the banner of “back to basics” forcing educators to look at the whole issue anew. The issue in fact is a twofold one: how the needs of society can be fulfilled and how the personal integrity of each individual learner can be maintained and enhanced through the ways of teaching which respect the learning processes. If educators intend to serve the children as well as the social system of education, they need to look closely at how children learn; they need to examine carefully whether it is the bits of knowledge of the skills that have to be imparted or a know-how that is important; they have to find out how to function as practitioners of education so that solutions to the different aspects of the problem are reached simultaneously through their activity of teaching. One of the important findings of Dr. Gattegno which helps those of us who are in touch with it, is that in the teaching-learning situation the powers of the mind of the learners have a significant place. The teacher who has learned how to let the learners relate these powers to the skills to be learned, serves the individual learners, and at the same time does the job which the society appoints him to do. With such a teacher, while learning the three R’s one truly becomes a learner —that is, actively goes through the process of learning — by meeting the unknown through one’s perceptive powers, by acting upon it with one’s mental resources, by watching one’s mistakes and learning to correct them by going deeper into one’s understanding of the challenge, by giving more and more sense to it through one’s intelligence, and by making that which makes sense a part of one’s functioning. In this way of teaching, which enables one to be a learner in the sense mentioned above, the learner’s responsibility, initiative, and confidence are at work too. The teaching-learning situation becomes the occasion for mutually enjoyable and creative activities for teachers and students.
Back To Basics – And More In Elementary Education
The 3 R’s are basic from the point of view of society. An educational system must provide a reasonable mastery of the basics. An educator for whom the powers of the mind and the learning processes of the students are fundamental aspects of education, uses the 3 R’s as necessary vehicles to carry on the educational process of the refinement and enhancement of these powers and processes. With such a teacher the learners acquire the skills as a by-product of their mental activity. They become skillful in the 3 R’s as they learn to use themselves more and more effectively. How to mobilize the learners to take the appropriate steps so that their mental powers relate in dynamic ways to the task at hand (i.e. the challenge of mastering the 3 R’s), is a very basic question which educators face. As practitioners, they look for and adopt teaching approaches which correspond to the question. We offer to elementary school teachers such teaching approaches to reading, writing and arithmetic. The schools in which our approaches are being used happily report that their students establish reading and writing as part of their functioning before the first year of their schooling ends. Visitors to these schools have been impressed by the delight, the seriousness and the expertise with which these children engage themselves in meeting mathematical challenges. Their teachers know that in the course of learning the 3 R’s these children learn to function with understanding and confidence. They learn to rely on their own resources and thus to be responsible for their actions. By letting their teaching be influenced and shaped by the powers children bring with them. These teachers are delivering the basics, and more. They are helping these children in elementary schools to learn to be individuals who may be up to meeting the challenges of the future with confidence autonomy and a sense of responsibility.
What Is Basics In Reading?
There are tens of thousands of people engaged in a variety of functions in the field of reading. The fact that most efforts have not yet led to a consensus can be an eye opener. Our view is that 1) it is possible to teach reading well to every child who has learned to speak his language and is not blind, 2) it is possible to use the same endowments that made one learn to speak to make one master the demands of reading, 3) it is possible to consider the various meanings of reading in a hierarchical manner beginning with the demands of decoding and leading to comprehension of arcane literature. Because of our scientific studies of the problems of reading in a score of languages we are not as bound as the academic communities who consider mainly social and economic factors as affecting reading scores or consider dominant theories discussed in their midst. We have found in our studies how the mind works when confronted with the written language either before one can enter the spoken language â€” as can be the case of the deaf and for foreign language students â€” or after one has learned to speak it which is the case of most natives. These findings have led us to develop original materials and techniques that did not occur to anyone else in the field and are so effective that only and extremely small number of students can not make sense of what reading is, once exposed to them. Because of this work we can unhesitatingly write that what is basic is that they perceive the complex system of sounds they produce spontaneously as a flow of words and which is triggered by some inner movement in them, as being given a visible form in the script of their language.
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For the teachers it will be basic to distinguish what the students cannot invent and has to be given to them in a manner that makes sense to them, from what they can do by them selves because of their endowments. It is basic to separate the conventions used in writhing English from the conveyance of meaning through words that can trigger meaning. It is basis to reach the understanding that reading and writing are two aspects of the same mental activity and see them deeply intertwined. If a beginner knows how to associate some sounds to some signs consciously and deliberately and notes that what comes out of his mouth sounds like ordinary speech, we can say that he or she made sense of reading. It is basic to distinguish between writing phonetically and spelling correctly. The first is concerned with the set of sounds of English forming vowels and syllables; a set that can be considered as completed when all the sounds have found at least one rendering in writing. The second is concerned with an ability to evoke words as they are written; often this form seems arbitrary, but spellings can later be justified on linguistic grounds. The new awareness regarding spelling requires special exercises so that students discover that by looking carefully at each word they give themselves the power to re-evoke them at will with the certainty that each word preserves the form it was given by English writers. It is basic to know that unless the flow of words renders the phrasing and the intonations of speech, one does not take advantage of those years of experience in expression (taken by every child to school) to serve comprehension both in the spoken and written language. Since almost every child has managed to master thousands of words and many structures by the age of 6 or 7, such a stress on the spoken comprehension will give him entry into a vast number of written statements using these words. It is basic to distinguish the use of reading to communicate through oneâ€™s language what one can say and whishes to say, from the use of 8
What Is Basics In Reading??
reading to acquire new experience and in particular new knowledge. Since in our schools a great deal of knowledge is passed on through the written medium, teacher must be better acquainted with the process of extracting meaning from texts. This of course is basic and has attracted the attention of most of the investigators who do “research” in the field of reading. Teacher find such research rather intimidating and of little help while they can easily acquire techniques which take their students to the point where they see what they need to do to extract meaning from paragraph after paragraph. It is basic to know that meaning comes from images, feelings, deductions, identifications, illustrations, analogies etc. and that words have no meaning of their own. A definition is a sentence which brings out the meaning of one word, all the other words in the sentence being already “known,” that is, capable of triggering meaning. Outside of definitions, it is necessary when looking at a sentence that one does not understand at once, to have enough experience to break it down and see how much meaning this produces. It may be necessary to take steps besides this verbal break-up in order to squeeze meaning from a statement. For example, to make a diagram, or do a calculation, or look at a map, or read another text. So this reading has only a certain amount of contact with one does when concerned with a novel for example. But both are called reading and both suppose that they require comprehension. In our approach, since we know that all this is basic, we have taken care of producing techniques and materials which involve students at whichever level they are, kindergarten or collage. At once students know that there are two ambiguities in written English not noticeable when only using the spoken language. One is that the same sing may require up to eleven different sounds (as is the case of the sign o) and the other is that the same sound may be put down in up to twenty four different shapes (spellings) as in the case of the schwa in English. We present beginners in their first lessons with us and is which s requires two different utterances, and with past and pass in which s and ss require the utterance of the same sound. So students watch the start
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and take in their stride that English is non-phonetic and words have to be known as they are written traditionally. In arranging our words on wall charts we show at once that a small number of words produces a large number of sentences and that reversals of order produce different meaning and that the substitution of one word alone may produce complete changes of meaning. By coloring the words according to the code, one sound - one color and conversely, we provide students with criteria for sounding any word they look at. This may or may not trigger a meaning. If it does, that word can be used with others to make sentences through pointing at them in certain orders. If it does not, the teacher has a choice either of providing a definition that yields a meaning or of using any of the devices mentioned above: a drawing, a display etc. understating is thus generated. The primer books, in black and white, propose only a few examples. These are selected to help students transfer their knowledge of words on the charts to words written by them on a chalkboard or on paper, and from there to the printed page. A useful test consists of presenting to the beginner a page upside down. This test agrees with our concept of basic insight into reading since we can all generally recognize objects we look at from a variety of angles. Expansion of knowledge is obtained through a variety of games specially created to fortify word imagery, retention of words, reference to the world around, transformation of words one into the other, linkages of words, sentence-making, story writing listening to oneâ€™s voice to reach sounds, stresses, phrases and melody. All this expansion produces as a by-product inner criteria that can guide students: first, in their study of English and then, in being able to score well in the standardized tests, i.e. showing up their true level of performance. An approach like ours meets the whole person all the time and mobilizes all the gifts. So students feel excited, enjoy their work, and neither get tired nor bored. Teachers in return feel they are getting somewhere with everyone and know exactly why.
What Is Basics In Reading??
Reading aims at giving students an entry into all the literatures. We shall assess the value of our work by letting students find their reading materials in school texts, magazines and newspapers, novels thrillers, travel books etc. Since the requirements of all these are very different we need to extend our tests also, so that we are informed that we have done our work. In our approach we aim at continuous feedback from where the students are, and this too is basic. We maintain constant contact with their learning and are guided by it. We do not ever waste time â€œteachingâ€? them what they already know. We find as soon as possible what they can do in their reading or their writing by giving them material or exercises slightly beyond what they show they can do and move from there challenging them further. It is basic to avoid the two pitfalls of giving students either too easy or too hard a task to involve them. For neither could. Instead we begin with a challenge we presume to be accessible, and if it is not, we from above, we may reach the right level of difficulty that can be tacked and produce satisfaction when it is tackled. Human learning in the field of reading has produced human teaching and both go together to fulfill our students while satisfying the demands of the community at large as well as requirements of the future.
What Is Basic In Mathematics?
This question has two meaning today. Since mathematicians have become aware of what they do with themselves when they produce new mathematics, they can teach anyone who is prepared to listen, what one needs to do with oneself to join their ranks. We now know how to make mathematicians out of ordinary people because we know what is basic in the process of mathematization. A second meaning is more mundane. Of the almost infinite number of choices available in mathematics to produce a school curriculum, do we know which criteria will help us make a selection? Mathematics curricula must serve students of different ages and different prospective social roles. Is there one — the basic one — that can serve the vast majority in a society that has adopted universal education? To this second question too we have today a valid answer. Indeed, we know now that it is much easier to make mathematics clear to elementary school students if we make them see that they use “operators” where in the past we believed we used numbers. An operator is a mental transformer which replaces one thing by another, for instance one yard of material by six yards or a quart by a pint or half-a-quart. The advantage of operators is that they resemble actions which can be actually performed and were indeed performed many millennia before someone formalized them into mathematics. Children can easily fold a rectangular sheet of paper producing two halves, then four quarters, then eight eighths etc. Hence multiples and fractions are met together. If we only show that one name tells how many rectangles
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there are in the folded paper, and is called an integer, and the other name, called fraction, refers to a relationship of the smaller rectangle to the whole sheet, the reality of both is seen at once and simultaneously. We can also see how through counting we can label any set of the small rectangles as related to the whole so that 3/8 or 7/16 has immediately a clear meaning. Operators go in pairs (twice and half, ten times and one tenth). So do operations, and addition and subtraction can be introduced at the same time since what one can add can also be subtracted and what one takes away can be put back. Operators and operations are as perceptible as actions for every child whatever his age, because in our spontaneous mental growth we all gain power when we substitute for actual actions, virtual ones and all of us do it in our drawings, our daydreams. We are therefore agreeing with our psychological growth when we present our elementary mathematics curriculum as recognition games of what children do with some objects and what their actions produce. In the past counters, chips, ordinary objects were offered them to get them to form concepts such as numbers (cardinal first and ordinal second) and addition. Today we create for particular ends the most effective instruments. Thus â€œAlgebricksâ€? are incomparably more effective than chips to generate the true meaning of number because number is deeply connected with operations. Still Algebricks (being prisms of equal cross sections colored in special ways) are objects and are acted upon by children who manipulate them to form trains and then inspect the results. Once looked at, these trains reveal properties which form the bases of mental computation and help children understand why one and the same action: making trains, produces such a variety of possible answers. Hence, it becomes basic to involve students in ways of working that at the same time make sense to them, use their previous experience, their perception and their intelligence to produce new awarenesses that open fields for exploration. In this way children not only become good at working with numbers as parents and teachers want them to be, but are not restricted by conditions in crowded classes. They are helped to fare as well as they can on their
What Is Basic In Mathematics?
own simply because teachers put into their hands instruments that they can very easily learn to use and which are capable of generating a huge number of examples in which a curious mind can at once read a great number of useful relationships. In particular any action will take some time to be performed and by stopping before its end one can contemplate what has been already done and what still needs to be done. One can thus conceive of the undoing of an action. This observation can be taken advantage of by showing that every addition can be seen as a subtraction and conversely, every repeated addition as a repeated subtraction, hence every multiplication as a division and conversely. This is basic concept formation. Presenting the four operations together in addition to saving much time in teaching arithmetic, produces a contact with truth that is invaluable for students for, now, what they do makes sense to them and can be acted upon to be integrated into their experience, to give it the form most meaningful to oneself and to do away with rote memorization of verbal statements imposed from outside. It is basic that children know that arithmetic can be as much part of oneâ€™s experience as jumping or aiming at a target with eye and legs or hands, coordinated to reach a certain end. It is basic that children know how to use experience gained so far to gain new experience and not always see the next lesson as unrelated to the previous ones. It is basic to learn to save time and energy whenever possible and to recognize that the purpose of acquiring a skill is to master it so as to use it automatically. We should in fact separate what is basic for teachers from that which is basic for students, and ask of the former that as their basic duty they respect the ways children learn and do not forget that their students have already spent energy and time on some activities resembling
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mathematical topics. It is basic for teachers to see to it that students are made aware of how the new topics link with their existing experience and to provide them with enough practice to reach a good facility in the required skill. It is basic for teachers to be responsible for putting students in front of their tasks in a way that lets them know that now they (the students) are responsible for mastering on their own the skills they are working on. In such a serious and shared responsibility we see the eradication of mathematical illiteracy so prevalent in the society at large. *** We at Educational Solutions know how to demonstrate what responsibility — with the above meaning — is and we not only produced materials and techniques that can help anyone interested, but we also have developed ways of working with teachers in schools and districts, through our teacher workshops and seminars as well as through our teachers-of-teachers contracts that have been tested for many years. In addition we are publishing a series of texts called “The Common Sense of Teaching . . . .” (two of which are out, one for “elementary mathematics” and one for “foreign languages,” a number of others are being readied for publication in the next two or three years, concerning “the deaf,” “reading,” “geometry,” “the calculus.”) In these books we are indeed only concerned with basics as we see them within the subordination of teaching to learning and guided, mainly, by common sense. Our contention is that if we all do what has been suggested to us by a direct study of the concrete situations where learning the basic subjects is asked of any child, there will be in every classroom very few students who do not manage to master the required matter. This, in a far shorter time than is assumed necessary today. Our concentration on the basics for so many years has made us know that in mathematics we can offer a curriculum that will meet with the most stringent demands of parents, scientists, administrators and school people, especially the children who will find themselves stretched and helped, motivated and growing. Any serious examination 16
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of our proposals, we know, will lead to a positive conclusion similar to the one several thousand educators have already reached. Only after the basic masteries are acquired can we consider presenting to our students the exciting developments which mankind perpetuated. The best mathematicians among us dedicated the time of their life to the mental excursions that yielded so much that there is no chance that we find ourselves short of subject matter when contemplating expanded curricula.
What Is Basic For Foreign Language Learning?
I find it difficult to write about the “basics” of a skill not only because this word seems to mean different things to people who use it, but because I realize that its meaning keeps shifting in my own mind leading my thoughts in different directions. For a large number of people to have the basics of a skill seems to mean being able to use that skill with a certain competence. While I can take this meaning as one of the possible ones, the concept has other meanings for me which are perhaps more important. I don’t think it is possible to say that we have the basics of a skill if we have not allowed that skill to change us. In other words, unless we have experienced ourselves differently through a skill, I don’t think we can say we have acquired its basics. To have the basics of a skill seems also to require to become familiar enough with it so that we can have the choice either to improve on it by ourselves or with someone else’s help, or to leave it. The reason why looking at “basics” in terms of competence is not very useful is because whenever the word competence comes up, there seem to be only opinions and disagreements on what the levels of acceptable competence in any skill are. If I stated, for example, that to have the basics in a foreign language is to be able to understand and to be understood by the speakers of that language, most second language teachers might agree with me. If,
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however, I went on reflecting upon my statement and considered the case of people who have lived in a foreign country for many many years and who, although they have not mastered the sounds or the melody or the structures of the language spoken in the host country, I’m sure that many people would revise their acceptance of such a definition. What I think happened in this case is that the speaker of the new language has reached a certain degree of competence but by-passed the basics of that language. It is perhaps because of the pressures of communicating with a new environment or for other reasons, that these people never took the time to use their throats, their facial or oral muscles in new ways, to breathe differently, to use linguistic signs according to new patterns. In reality, they still speak their own language in which they have inserted some “foreign” materials. Since most people are very resourceful, it happens that often communication occurs. But in my mind occurs in spite of and not because of the faulty messages uttered. Because communication may occur through a smile, a gesture, through the listener’s supplying the components of the language missing in the utterances of a speaker, I think it is more useful to keep communication separate from language learning. What are then the basics of a language? Which are the criteria to work on so that they can be established? It seems to me that when we talk of basics in the field of language we must consider those components the knowing of which will allow learners to improve in their use of the new language. If we think of basics of a language as its sound system, its melody with its stresses, phrasings, intonations and its grammatical structures, with its morphology, syntax, word order etc. we discover that these are also the components that constitute the unique features of any language. At this point concepts like “knowing how” and “knowledge” become very useful to help a teacher determine what are the steps to be chosen in order to guide a learner in the acquisition of a new skill such as the one of a new language. If we understand “knowledge” as what is to be learned of what is outside of us, that is, what may be arbitrary information which cannot 20
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be deduced by internal processes like the set of sounds speakers of a language have chosen to signify a concept; and “knowing how” as the human capacity to manipulate a system in a given way, through inner processes, then we can say that in language learning the latter is of paramount importance while the former is almost incidental. Let’s take an example to illustrate this point. The Italian language uses between twenty-six and thirty sounds to make all the words existing in that language. What this means is that these few sounds are all there is to know in terms of “knowledge” about the Italian system of sounds. However, to be able to manipulate these sounds so that the right amount of energy is placed in each of them, to string them together in the correct way, to keep the right temporal spacing between certain sounds and others, to modulate one’s voice in the required way, all this belongs to the “knowing how” and needs time and adjustment on the part of the learner so that they can be reached with facility, that is, become an automatic and correct response to a trigger. Thus the jobs of the teacher are 1) to give out as little information (knowledge) as possible in order not to burden the student’s memory, 2) allow students to manipulate this information in a number of ways so that automatisms are created leaving them free to use their energy for the next steps, 3) to present the difficulties of the language taught one at a time in such a way that students will be able to make sense of what is required of them and will not feel defeated by the task. So, for example, if the sound system of a language is presented at first, before any other components of that language, before meanings attached to words are known to the students, the learners can be greatly helped because they can refine their utterances by concentrating on their hearing, on their oral muscles, on their vocal cords, on their breathing, without having to worry about what they are saying, if it is appropriate or if they might be making fools of themselves as so many fear. The common social embarrassments caused by the awkwardness of being a beginner are thus eliminated and students can focus on finding which ones are the new somatic parts to master in order to be able to speak the new language. If a colored phonic code in which each color corresponds to a sound is
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used, the teacher will soon find that he can use the students visual perception to facilitate this task of finding which are right mechanisms for the production of the new sounds. The possibility of checking one’s utterances against a precise visual trigger allows the possibility to build exact criteria on what the work to be done is. The presentation of sounds without “meaning” can lead to a series of games which will give students the opportunity to practice their new skill because these sounds can be strung in longer and longer sequences integrating the phrasing and melody of the native speakers. An intense concentration on just one aspect of the language being learned and how it behaves, will allow students to realize that they must use themselves in different ways from those they are used to when they speak their native language. They will discover that 1) they must be present in their sense of hearing in a way they are not used to any longer, if they want to recognize the new sounds, 2) they must will muscles they had but they had perhaps not yet used, if they want to utter what they hear in the proper manner, 3) they may have to breathe differently if they want to carry out long strings of words in this language, 4) they must distribute their energy differently on different sounds, if they wish their utterances to sound like those of the speakers of that language. In other words, from the very beginning the learners will have a chance to experience themselves differently and will be changed by their new experience. At the same time, they will also recognize that in learning the new language, their functionings are involved in a familiar way. Thus, there is nothing strange to use one’s hearing to monitor one’s utterances nor to combine and recombine a small number of elements in order to form an indefinite number of other elements, like it happens passing from sounds to words and from words to sentences. These phenomena occur in all language learning because they reflect that the human minds which created them had some freedom in selecting how to use what is available in every one of us and made a special selection. As the teacher goes on in choosing other stepping stones on which to build, this must be kept in mind. Since language is primarily acquired through “knowing how” rather than “knowledge,” every bit of
What Is Basic For Foreign Language Learning??
information given out must open up a host of activities which involve the inner functionings of the learner allowing that “knowing how” to occur. If students become aware that learning a new language involves their capacity 1) to make connections between their various physical and mental systems, 2) to use their will so that their muscles will move in the way they want them to, 3) to make judgments, to make associations, to interpret reality etc. they will feel their powers at work and will all the time be able to decide how competent they wish to be in the new language they are involved in learning. Working this way, it seems to me, it yields not only what most people would recognize to be the basics of a language, but a wholly different attitude of the learner toward himself and the subject matter he is learning. He will feel responsible for his actions and will experience the sense of power that comes with feeling master of one’s own actions.
What Is Basic In Social Studies?
It is not yet widely known that mankind did not become aware of the social environment until a century or two ago. The reason is that it was engaged in other activities that fully demanded all the energy and the time available. As late as in this century only a small number of men and women were sensitive to issues we, today, call social. They tried to force awareness through education by placing social studies in the curriculum of college, high school and even elementary school. John Dewey in the United States played a key role in that process by articulating for all the value of social studies in a democracy. His influence can be measured by the fact that almost all research in education is carried out in communities to learn something about how these affect individuals or are affected by individual actions. Social facts are commonplace today although 300 years ago they may have been perceived by only one or two of the most perceptive observers of the world scene. So today social facts do not require a definition, they are presented everyday in which numbers that no one can doubt their existence. In the same way as falling objects prove the existence of gravity anywhere on earth, group and individual interactions that fill our days prove the existence of society, its importance and its impact on individuals. People, generally, do not pursue knowledge for knowledgeâ€™s sake. Their domination of the forces in the world motivates their study. This is true of the social sciences as much as it is of the natural sciences. Therefore when we look for what is basic in social studies we aim at two levels; one in which participants in the world scene become acquainted with what goes on in it, and one
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from which we prepare the coming generation to face demands in society and be ready for changes in it. Societies, as we know them, stem from among people on earth — which is man’s natural and perhaps only, habitat in the cosmos. We therefore cannot comprehend societies outside of the “geo-graphical” context in which we find them. Hence it is basic to take a close look at our earth in so far as it affects fundamentally our needs and actions. Human geography for over one century has developed the methods of study which lead to that acquaintance with our habitat. This includes knowing as much about the climate as about the resources and the means of transportation available. Although, through knowledge, we have altered our habitat to the point that climatization of places of work and of dwelling can be controlled, we are not yet masters of earthquakes, floods, droughts, tidal waves and hurricanes. To look at the earth and its atmosphere to acquire deeper knowledge of how they behave and to what extent we can use them, exploit them for our comfort and future growth, becomes a basic requirement of scholarship before entering society as a contributor. More and more in our man made world, we have become dependent as economic beings, on technology, energy resources, industry, agriculture and commerce. Social studies are concerned with knowing what we find in the world around, where it is located, how accessible it is, how much there is of each needed item, and how each can be processed to become a commodity. But in our modern world this is no longer sufficient knowledge for we have learned to intervene in processes we considered as natural only fifty years ago. In social studies we come into contact with generation of wealth, the maintenance of conditions that make our habitat not only livable, but, if possible, pleasant, congenial. We look at the present and the future even when we can only have access to the past through published and dated materials. So it is basic in social studies to feel that one is concerned with one’s habitat not information about abstract creatures living somewhere else. Hence it is also basic to give our students direct access to how we find out about the world around as a living and throbbing community of people engaged in facing daily challenges. Besides references we must offer our students means to find out, to
What Is Basic In Social Studies?
assess, to feel trends and know obstacles as well as opportunities in the world around. It is basic in social studies to know all the time that one is in contact all the time with some aspect of society. It is unnecessary to remember facts that will not be valid soon after they have been published, hence to memorize obsolescent facts. Instead it is vital to know that there are conflicting forces in the markets of the world and of one’s country. Raw materials, industrial processes, transportation and distribution of goods create services, needs for capital, for insurance, for credit, and for storage. Men are involved everywhere generating special interests that so far consider themselves as competing with each other in getting as large a share of the benefits available as is possible. Hence government, corporations, workers unions, consumer groups, taxation, legislation, development are all there to be known as basic in the fabric of society. But man does not live by bread alone. Societies have produced leisure time for some or for all, and the filling of time outside earning one’s living is as much a component of society as work and economic progress. What societies have to offer their members is also there to be seen, noted, known, studied. Some leisure items compete with those of survival in the minds of people and become industries. Sports and tourism are but two which our modern world knows on a grand scale. It is vital and basic in one’s social studies to see the changes of men’s occupations and the multiplicity of roles played by most of us. No rigid preparation through narrowly specialized trade schools would in fact prepare anybody for our modern societies that are changing fast. Change is known to exist only when a more permanent background is perceived at the same time. This can best be provided by a study of history. The illusion that memorization of historic facts represents any valid education has been held invalid at least since the end of World War II. The value of history as a social study is to make us appreciate the actual dynamics of today seen in the continuously changing chain of events. History is basic in our development because it tells us after the events, how people faced their fate when it was decided by some of their rulers, the ambitions of others and by their willingness to intervene before it was too late. History is basic only if it shows us people facing challenges and how wisdom does or does not prevail. It is
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also basic in that it shows us that only a few generations ago even in the most advanced countries, general conditions were normally what we consider today as appalling. History, geography, economics; all are studies needed by all citizens in a democracy in order to understand where each is, how things got to be what they are and what is needed to make them better for oneâ€™s successors. Without them people are only guided by hunches and guesses and perpetuate mistakes rather than reduce the number of those which are not inevitable. The inevitable ones are the result of ignorance and all generations will have to live with them. Of our efforts to make social studies the vital studies they are and should be, our own most spectacular contribution has been the offering of our open-books (already started in 1937). They represent the means by which students of any age can enter into a proper dialogue with the occupiers of the environment. Thus they gain their acquaintance of the social realities by being immersed in them. Facts become alive and are assimilated as vital because they are real. Another of our contributions is the series of monographs called My Life and My Work, in which people who have spent a number of years in one field tell what has been demanded of them so that they manage to have successful lives as workers in that field, and also what they needed to do with themselves to know the opportunities in that field. As well as a Career Series, these social study monographs make fascinating reading for those who have learned to question a complex society about what happens in it. The open-books seem to have been in the hands of these writers when they examine their field. They come back with the vital and basic information which they then skillfully offer their readers. Social studies are of paramount importance in our modern societies which grew a little haphazardly because entrepreneurs are selfgenerating people who sense opportunities and take them first in their own self-interest and as an afterthought as a contribution to certain communities. Today when we have entered a more systematic and responsible era with a huge bureaucracy and a very varied economy, it 28
What Is Basic In Social Studies?
is basic to prepare our school people better. It is in the best interests of our communities. For such a preparation let us be guided by the true demands of our human environment. *
In What We Owe Children by Caleb Gattegno, readers will find a chapter in which the author outlines with some details a curriculum for social studies in the elementary school as well as suggestions of how to achieve the basic education offered in that field.
What Is Basic In The Natural Sciences?
In the evolution of the natural sciences over the last four hundred years, the old and basic Aristotelian method of classification has been replaced by a spectrum of ways of working. It remains obvious, however, that we still need to begin any field study by being clear about what we shall use to limit the field. The instruments of perception (our senses) still organize the field and we still know that we examine attributes. Classes are formed with individuals displaying certain attributes and classes are also separated from each other in terms of attributes, i.e. the absence of them or accumulation of some. Geology, botany, zoology and their branches all started as the activity of placing individuals in classes, and our students must learn how to do that work in the fields covered by these sciences. The method is not new to our students, only the fields. It is basic to let them know that every time they have ever formed a concept they were using that method. What is new for them to acknowledge now are those instances when an observation is of items which produce a geological or a botanical or a zoological fact. They can quickly reach the awarenesses that divide natural objects into the three fields of study on earth (stones, plants, animals). This, if students seek only an entry into these fields â€” and not immediately to become professionals â€” they do not need to accumulate knowledge in them.
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What is basic today in the sciences of nature is to understand how this huge variety of objects that form the inventory of our non-human earth came about and why it is what it is. All sciences have become evolutionary. There are reasons for things being what they appear to be. Things are linked functionally one to the other, and to reach the relationship between them is to look more deeply at the roots of all of them. The classificatory sciences have yielded precedence to other ways of working and today the latter are the basic studies schools can and should offer. Scientists now accept the responsibility of showing why the contents of our earth is what it is and what made it reach that state. No classification can do that job. An insight into the forces at work is needed. These forces are studied in physics, chemistry, biology and even in more recent ones such as nuclear physics, chemistry of large molecules, molecular biology etc. So it is basic to give our students the instruments for thinking more synthetically about nature rather than require that they recapitulate the history of science with its trials and errors, its hit or miss approaches. It is basic in the teaching of the natural sciences to save time by challenging our students with more contemporary problems rather than with antiquated and obsolete challenges. Technology in the last few decades not only changed our social world but also our research procedures in all the sciences. Our students are entitled not to waste their time in studying something which may only be an intellectual curiosity. What the electronic microscope has revealed does not need to be looked at with a magnifying glass which might be as useless as the naked eye! What we now know of the sky are the facts of astronomy to be taught, not what the Mesopotamian astronomers knew! This is basic because it is common sense. But it is also basic to look at the education of our students in these fields in terms of ability to join the ranks of the numerous investigators that compose them. This means that we have to educate sensitivities beyond the retention of the facts of physics, chemistry, and biology. Indeed each science is concerned with one set of sensitivities not
What Is Basic In The Natural Sciences?
equally required in the others, while statements to be retained can all remain sets of words expressed in a certain language. It became basic in the history of the sciences to see energy at work in the universe: working at a certain level one finds that energy provides physical phenomena; working in a different way and at a much lower level, it provides the phenomena that intrigue the chemist; when the biologist looks at energy, he sees it doing specific things within living organisms. Today a biologist integrates in his way of working what would have placed him among chemists a few decades ago. But because of his mental polarization, he knows he is sensitive to the subtle workings of life in everything with which he concerns himself. In our education today, we want to relate to our students through the true challenges in the world, so we ask them to develop some functionings that are needed to meet these challenges. This approach is at the same time true education and a preparation for a possible career. And this is basic in our present world where employment cannot be secured without some competence needed by society. Such competence is not the outcome of a preparation for an achievement test which at the most proves retention and/or verbal articulation. Rather, it will result from the exposure of students to true challenges in the world of physics, or of chemistry, or of biology. Meeting challenges is an intelligent use of oneself, a mobilization of the proper functionings. And this is what schools today are able to offer their students provided teachers are made competent in this new way of engaging their pupils in meaningful activities. Such activities would involve the content of the world at large, rather than only the expensive materials in well equipped laboratories. Teachers today are ready to change in the direction of gaining that competence so long as school districts and parents give them their support. This readiness comes from their awareness that there is much time wasted in the science classes and that scientific education does not result from memorization â€” but also from their desire to be personally engaged in something lively and life giving. Since parents and school boards only want to see the best possible job done â€” even if
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at the same time they want it accomplished at the least possible cost in energy, time and funds, it is therefore basic to agree to give teachers that support which will permit them to recast the curriculum for all sciences from elementary to high schools, and to adopt methods of work that concentrate on the education of the sensitivities needed to make scientists out of all the students who wish it. Our world quickly yielding to the scientific era requires that we educate everybody in the outlooks which will bring the public to a state of understanding of what is happening in the world around. Through that understanding, they will be able to share responsibility in what is decided on their behalf. Science extends itself into technology and thus affects all social aspects of living. An educated public is needed today more than ever. With education free and compulsory up to high school, there are opportunities and facilities available at present which can make the task of science teachers much easier than it has ever been. A well thought out curriculum, woven into the means that the computer and television represent, would transform the whole of society into one that remains in contact with the fast pace of progress we are experiencing everywhere. Such a curriculum already exists at the experimental level. What makes it basic is the fact that it is only concerned with energy. Our modern vision is concerned with the transformations of energy, in the cosmos, in plants, and in animals, as well as in man made inventions. What is basic in science education is to remain abreast of progress and to recast courses and review our methods of presentation in order to avoid the present time lag between what we see of science in the news and what we currently tend to show our children in science courses. Since we know how to make teachers into the kind of people who enjoy study, enjoy presenting ideas and theories to those not yet informed of them, the change to what is basic today in the field of science education only requires public support.
What Is Basic In The Natural Sciences?
We, like many others, are ready to help. With our open-books and our curriculum on energy, we know we have made that aspect of education an easier one.
What We Can Now Afford Thanks To Our Attention To Basics
If we do what is truly basic when we are engaged in the various tasks discussed above, we shall end up with school populations very different from most of those we now meet in our schools. Indeed, our students will not only be confident because they feel that the ground on which they stand is solid and can be trusted, but they will also have so much experience of being responsible for their learning that they will welcome all openings that will take them as far as they can go. Hence, now is the time to see education as the springboard towards higher peaks, as the provider of opportunities which were reserved until now to the very gifted. Just as we have been very strict in our securing first the bases and making sure that no time or energy was wasted in useless frills, we shall now be as strict in seeing what the meaning of education is for the well equipped, the well groomed students we have catered for. There will be no need for energy to be wasted in motivating them. They will come to school knowing that it is the place they like because they find there opportunities they cannot find anywhere else in their community and that these are offered freely to them. If, there, they meet teachers who are dedicated to making them as strong as they can be in the areas where they themselves find intellectual excitement and enjoyment and if the affective component is present and enhanced, what was once
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luxury becomes now affordable and even soon a necessity of life. The privilege of the rich will be put at the reach of everyone. In universal, compulsory education today, what still looks as luxury may lose this character once it is found that almost all can afford it because of their basic equipment. Literature, music, dance, art, are all human endeavors. They are considered so vital by that small but sizable fraction of society made of artists, that in all cultures and all civilizations, they are the ones that measure greatness of societies. As soon as a society manages a certain affluence it invests part of its capabilities and potential in the creation of cultural wealth. For posterity, the works of art of a culture or a civilization that has disappeared represent its actual valuables and speak of its achievements much more than say its military deeds. If we have reached the stage of development, as in this action, where we know that we do not need all the energy of everyone to secure food and shelter, then the need to cater for the use of much leisure time and for the many years after retirement makes its appearance. It is basic to think of this in creative terms and to secure contact with everyone’s creativeness as often as we can, and as early as we can. It is basic to relate the foundations to the height one can reach because of them. It is basic to be effective with all the uses of oneself; all the time. Creativity is never a luxury. Today we know equally well how to educate people’s creativity and people’s basic functionings and these two educations are often the same. Only the lingering of some old tradition; — that are vestiges of times of need — make us look at them as if they were different. Our modern societies may be inclined more and more to aim at educating the whole person in every individual and at producing a society of well rounded educated adults. This becomes everyday more feasible and perhaps even basic. This makes it basic.
1 Materials for teaching Russian The Silent Way have been completed this summer after six or seven years of experimentation, amendments and improvements.* The Fidel is formed of three panels and provides the best arrangement we could think of for that language. Russian asks a lot from non-Slavs because of two simultaneous demands that seem to contradict each other. It has soft vowels and soft consonants as well as hard ones, which make it into a suave as well as a percussive language. It is complex, like all languages that have been used for centuries by people who chose to use words to convey complicated experiences lived by complex psyches, and who found specific means to generate shades of meanings. These include the special Russian concept of how to use verbs and to affect verb roots to produce nuances. The spirit of Russian can be met in these procedures and in the contrast of •
encapsulating changes in words through suffixes (called declentions) and prefixes, and
in the predilection of using numerous words to generate a climate for understanding (rather than intellectual clarity through the smallest number of words as for example French does).
The prototype materials will not be printed for some time but can be reproduced by hand for a fee calculated on actual costs. Since there are twelve word charts and 3 Fidel charts, that cost may be high but it provides instruments that make the teaching and learning of Russian a very effective and enjoyable experience.
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*** This spring we had a request to give form to our work on the Catalan language. This language spoken by a few million people living on the east coast of Spain and in the Balearic Islands has gained importance as a second language because at least a million of Castilian speaking Spaniards are seeking work in this highly industrialized segment of the Spanish territory. Kept alive in the heart of nationalists, this language represented by an extensive literature is a very interesting example of a blend of Spanish and French. The Fidel requires two charts and the twelve word charts cover, as for all other languages, the functional vocabulary as well as family relations and time. These materials also only exist in prototype. 2 A new product we call “Numeration Games” is in the process of production. All those who saw it felt excited by it. Since it can be used in the home with 3-5 year olds, at school with students of any age, in foreign language classes as well as for natives of any age, this product shares with most of our materials the quality of being multivalent, direct, and universal. On one side of cards — differing in tints — we print numerals in figures. These we introduce on successive cards for a progressive study. On the back of each card we tell parents or teachers or the foreign language instructors, what we would do with that material, and on two sides of a white card we give sets of exercises aiming at mastery. There are two types of exercises: those concerned with verbal facility and those concerned with the reading and writing of numerals. Already completed are the sets in English, French (2 sets, one for Belgium and Switzerland and one for France) and Spanish. Soon we hope to offer those for a few of the languages we have in our Silent Way list. 3 We can announce the result of months of intensive and careful work of many of our staff on our Mini Test project.
The new version takes care of all the major tests most widely used in the school districts of the nation. Our studies have taught us a great deal of what has gone on in test making for about sixty years. We now understand 1) why it has become a growing business in the United States and 2) how we could make a decisive contribution in that field. Some of us found in these studies impulses that can be translated in valuable papers for professionals in the field. All of us know how to throw light on the activities of workers in the field so as to help them and the users of tests to see the challenges more clearly. Our Mini tests have been hailed as a breakthrough in the field and enthusiastically received by the school people. Now that our work has been extended as far as it needed to be in order to meet the needs of many more concerned administrators, teachers and parents, we hope it will reach the public we intended to help. 4 During eleven days in July, Dr. Gattegno directed an intensive seminar on “The Science of Education” near Lyons in France. Fiftythree participants — many traveling over two hundred miles to reach the center — worked systematically for seven or eight hours daily in the usual manner of the Gattegno seminars. Thirty topics were looked at in successive sessions needed to make everyone find how today’s position of thinkers in the various fields affects our understanding of education. In particular the basic notions of science; of knowledge and knowing, of subjectivity and objectivity, of conditioning, of a will at work, of model making, of skills and their learning, of illumination, of illustration, of analysis and of acquaintance, of intuition and the grasp of wholes, of affectivity and inhibitions, of intelligence, of the intellect, of breakthroughs in education, of awareness and awarenesses, of awareness of awareness were studied. Each contributed to making it clearer that today we can claim to have a science of education because we have reached awareness of our awareness. As the seminar progressed the participants abandoned their cozy attitudes and complacent positions and gained a deeper sense of what 41
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it means to be critical. The study of truth and reality, in particular, contributed a great deal in making everyone into a more careful speaker on matters concerning education. This appeared to all as a vital field of study and a most important occupation for them. Moved as they were, because of the level of their existential experiences and the breadth of the subjects encountered, many participants left the seminar charged enough to continue to work on the topics that touched them most. Dr. Gattegno’s treatise on “The Science of Education” is progressing and could be available as a published text during 1977. In it the author summarizes his life’s work as a technician and a thinker in that field. 5 Shiow Ley Kuo our colleague, spent ten days of teaching in Japan and one day in Hawaii on her way back. As a guest in Japan of KALT (a new association of language teachers) and in Hawaii of Hawaii Council of Teachers of English at Pacific College, she had been asked to illustrate The Silent Way to newcomers. Teaching Mandarin in Kyoto for 7 days to 35 language instructors (Americans and Japanese), and then for two days illustrating how ESL is treated in The Silent Way at a two-day conference of language teachers, Ms. Kuo served her classes well. Letters received from Japan indicate how effective her teaching has been. All correspondents are keenly interested in learning more of The Silent Way or in acquiring the materials for adoption of the approach in their teaching posts. In Hawaii a few people expressed a readiness for more exposure to our way of teaching languages. 6 Dr. Cecilia Bartoli is returning to Europe for four weeks of teaching in Paris, Geneva, Cambridge, London, Athens during September and October. 7 The Silent Way has been presented by Professor Philippa Wehle of Purchase College of SUNY in a long and detailed article in the July ‘76 issue of “Psychologie,” the French equivalent of “Psychology Today.” Professor Wehle who studied The Silent Way at our seminars and workshops and teaches French using it in her classes at Purchase (SUNY) is the first user of The Silent Way to reach the general public
through a magazine with wide circulation. This clear exposition may be read with profit by other users of The Silent Way. Last June in Quebec City Shakti Gattegno presented The Silent Way in two sessions of 2 hours each to two groups of teachers of language meeting for the annual conference of SPEAQ. An article on that presentation is to appear in the proceedings of the conference. 8 The Common Sense of Teaching Foreign Languages is now available for purchase from the publishers: Educational Solutions Inc. This book supplements the ground covered in “Teaching Foreign Languages in Schools: The Silent Way” which remains the text in which Dr. Gattegno shared his findings up to 1963 when the book appeared first in England. The two texts differ mainly in that the new one gives much more technical assistance to teachers of foreign languages than the old one. So far these books are the only ones available to teachers on The Silent Way. A review of this book will appear in our December issue. 9 We are happy to report that in Connecticut, both in the State Capital City of Hartford and the City of New Haven, our work has attracted public attention. A full page of the Hartford Courant was devoted to our reading scheme (Words in Color) as it is used by Judy Scott in a New Haven Public High School. Two articles in the same paper reported work done in Hartford schools. One of them was concerned with the efforts made by the School Board and the Superintendent to eradicate illiteracy in the city schools. The other with 1) the efforts made to give monolingual English speaking teachers a swift and solid entry into Spanish via The Silent Way so as to permit them to communicate with the parents and students who can only speak Spanish and 2) the training of teachers in the use of LeoColor for Spanish literacy.
About Caleb Gattegno Caleb Gattegno is the teacher every student dreams of; he doesnâ€™t require his students to memorize anything, he doesnâ€™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.
Published on Aug 10, 2009