The Year Of The Child Adolescence
Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc.
vol. VIII no. 5
First published in 1979. Reprinted in 2009. Copyright ÂŠ 1979-2009 Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc. Author: Caleb Gattegno All rights reserved ISBN 978-0-87825-299-2 Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc. 2nd Floor 99 University Place, New York, N.Y. 10003-4555 www.EducationalSolutions.com
Our newsletter subscription year goes from September to June. The Year of the Child is a calendar year, 1979. Three issues of this volume and two of the next will cover that year. Generally, our issues are devoted to specific topics linked only by the fact that they contribute to a deeper discussion of education and may lead to a deeper understanding of it. The opportunities offered by the Year of the Child presented an occasion for knitting together the vision of education as co-extensive with life, forcing us to look at ourselves as evolving beings with so much to learn not only about our habitat, and the people and institutions around us, but also about ourselves as dynamic learning systems. In the last two issues we touched upon our evolution in early childhood and in boyhood or girlhood, upon the preschool and elementary school years. In this issue we come to the time of sorting out the universe of feelings: we look at adolescence, in terms of awareness, as the period of our life when we yield to the call of our inner life, which not only exists and has a right to express itself but serves as the turning plate integrating the past and opening the way to the future. How we use the opportunities offered us in adolescence will determine the quality of our later life, which may be rich or stagnant in consequence. Adolescence is the most important phase in the evolution of all humans because it brings one face to face with the forces of evolution and their workings. After the News Items, we share with our readers first, the words of a teacher about her self-education and then, a small collection of impromptu poems.
Table of Contents
1 Adolescence....................................................................... 1 2 A Former Adolescent Tells It As It Was ............................. 7 3 The Time To Learn Who I Am........................................... 11 The Will As An Instrument .............................................................. 12 Pitfalls In The Search For Identity................................................... 13 Knowing Others Through Relating â€” The Second Inner Movement........................................................... 14 Book Review ........................................................................17 News Items ......................................................................... 21 Affectivity At Work ............................................................. 25 1 Awareness Of What Is Involved In Learning. .............................. 25 2 Awareness Of What Is Involved In Teaching............................... 27
Although no one can escape noticing the sudden physical growth of adolescent children and the sexual transformations of puberal boys and girls, we are less perceptive when we look at the meaning of those years which make enormous changes in appearance possible. Because it is as transient a period as early childhood and the five years which follow that, adolescence and its true messages have not been given their rightful place. The scientists, who are so absorbed in their own absolutes, instead of knowing the relative meaning and relative value of living the absolutes of our first fifteen to eighteen years have seen these years only in terms of their own absolutes, and have thus missed their meaning almost completely. Adolescence is also the expression of an absolute: one that creeps in in our early teens (i.e. from 10 on) but is mainly manifested from 13 to 16 and cedes its place, also unobstrusively, in our late teens, to the absolute of the intellect. The latter is an offshoot of adolescence and, like it, either weak or strong. In order to understand that we have to give ourselves to knowing the content of a universe, and must spend at least five years in this, we must come to a clear view of that universe. Not that these five years are strictly sufficient for that study, nor that we suddenly stop being attracted by the properties and the content of that universe â€” for some of us many more years are required, sometimes even all of our remaining years, and then more in other lives if need be.
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Of course, our inner life is involved in our perceptions and actions. It is only what is left within us of their impacts that we carry forward with us: for example, only when the will instructs the muscles do these contract or relax. It is our mind that integrates and coordinates impressions and actions. We may know a great deal, as babies and young children, about where to concentrate, where to put our attention, and how to extract the lessons of where we put ourselves. All this is the work of the inner life. Nonetheless, even as young children we are not yet letting ourselves be totally absorbed by what we know to be within. Instead, we let most of our consciousness be with what we are connected with, which has a clear component of what is outside us, recognizably so and stressed as such. In adolescence, this relationship of our self to our inner life changes. The relationship itself becomes the object of our attention. We then find the challenge of our identity, which had not been raised earlier. To know who we are we must ask ourselves, for none of those around us seems to know or even care to know who we, personally, are. Because it becomes more and more of a vital question we find that we must give ours elves to it wholeheartedly, even exclusively. What we engage in, we cannot learn by observing others: we must use ourselves for it, and to begin with we are clumsy and are the victims of ignorance. To learn how to do this requires time, experience, experimentation, meeting the unknown and the unchartered. The forms it takes from moment to moment are the surprises inherent in this new state and they keep us on our toes. We do not produce anything in our givenness to our inner activites; we shift energy around. Whereas earlier we did not pay much attention to the pains which accompanied excessive actions, we are now concerned with pain, its tone, its intensity, its location. To know pain better, we give ourselves opportunities to enhance it, we generate the inner climate of misery and stretch our actions, or select to stress their â€œnegativeâ€? component in order to know. For example we may discover that one of our teeth is aching and, instead of seeking to attend to it, we may involve ourselves in the pain, 2
and let it get worse to find out the extent of the discomfort, its qualities, the meaning of paroxysm, our capacity to stand it, and how all this affects us and our perception of ourselves. Such occurrences cover a wide spectrum and not all of us select experiences by the same criteria. Some face the cold to become acquainted with its ways of affecting them, others give themselves to obedience to a gang leader, yet others decide to fast, or to undertake hard physical feats, or to fall in love with someone who cannot respond, etc. Some of us go through many experiences successively, some through many at the same time. What matters is that a universe of experience is suddenly open to us, that we perceive its existence and feel inspired to explore it passionately, deeply and sometimes exclusively. By giving ourselves to it we raise its status to that of an absolute. By finding that there is more and more in it we give that period properties which we only vaguely suspected existed. Since time is needed to make each insight explicit and to integrate into the fabric of our life, all of what we have worked on, we find ourselves bringing the period of adolescence into being. This is made more conspicuous by the fact of puberty, released in our soma by a complex working of our self on that region of the brain which envelops the pituitary â€” the command post of the hormonal strategies. To know ourselves in the way we do in our adolescence is not only vital, crucial, essential, it is inevitable and no one attempts to escape it. But to know what adolescents do with their time is so far from inevitable that most people, who cannot fail to come face to face with adolescents, do not even suspect that in adolescence they can find a universe worthy of their full attention and respect. Since it has not been possible to capture the meaning of adolescence in terms of behavior, except to a very superficial degree, it has been agreed to consider adolescents as difficult and to leave it at that.
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In a total view of life and the perspective of a need to know, it is obvious that everybody needs to give time for, and close attention to, the subtle inner movements which go to form emotions, feelings and sentiments. How else can we understand the fact that adolescence is the period of conversions, the period of platonic love, the period of great admirations and of aspiration to greatness by proxy? The discovery, in adolescence, that we can only evolve when we are in spiritual contact with someone more advanced than ourselves, and can be uplifted to great heights by such contacts, can only take place when we become responsive to what happens in the universe of affectivity. Affectivity itself needs to be known, and it takes 5 years for the ordinary person to explore some of it. A strong affectivity is needed to pursue truth, to become responsible in the intellectual and artistic fields, in the service of society, of history and of humanity. What makes men and women great is much more what they are or were than the content of their performances. What people are is to be encountered in the broadness of their understanding, their compassion, their sympathy and their intuition of the mysterious ways of being, hidden behind common appearances. While previous absolutes have been, and future absolutes will be, concerned with broad categories and final schematizations, affectivity concerns itself in the-here-and-now with the unique, the singular, the extraordinary, the dynamic i.e. the changing, the living. In animating the world, endowing people and things with powers, the adolescent shows his or her wealth of spirit, the generosity that is going to make the world different, better constituted for human habitation and action. Adolescence is our heyday, the time to break through all obstacles and to offer (oneself first and perhaps others) the abundance of living, the courage of being, and dedication to what is of value to oneself. Once the period of adolescence is behind one, the new absolutes do not easily permit the luxury proper to that period of true givenness to ideals and, instead, stress classes and categories which uniformize and level. The post-adolescent years, if divorced from the generous flow of oneâ€™s affective gifts, lead to dryness and the exploitation of others.
Hence the paramount importance, for the future of our human world, of keeping alive in everyone all that which in our adolescence made its appearance at the behest of our inner life. Making the adolescent live forever, in everyone, would therefore be one of the most practical moves we could make towards grasping the meaning of what a promising future for humanity could be, and towards knowing what constitutes a practical approach to education today. Caleb Gattegno
2 A Former Adolescent Tells It As It Was
Through my memories and the observations I made of my peers, I can recapture some aspects of my adolescence which seem to be common to the lives of many others although there are variations and differing stresses and outcomes. As far as I can say, my adolescence is characterized by the manner in which I sought situations which would allow me to experience the intensity of particular emotions. I know that I worked separately on each emotion by giving myself to things and to people having the quality of triggering that emotion more intensely. What I may have conveyed to those around me was moodiness, since they could not predict my reactions which changed so often and so drastically. Yet my own sense of what was happening is that I was carrying out a series of very careful experiments by choosing to be in circumstances which would yield certain feelings. How else can one understand the activity of listening over and over again to the same segment of Brahmâ€™s symphony no. 4? It grabbed me in a certain way and made me cry. Similarly, why should one choose to spend so much time with those contemporaries who would do the things which their elders disapproved of, such as sneaking out of the house at night to roam around, drinking liquor and avoiding being caught by the police? These
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and similar activities have the potential of generating the thrill of the unknown, just as listening to a piece of romantic music can generate overwhelming sadness. Involvement in these activities comes not necessarily out of a desire to be a hoodlum or a musician, but in order to know specific emotions in one’s gut. It seems reasonable that one of the prerequisites to knowing an emotion is seeking the company of the people who can make it come alive. In my adolescence, the words of learned people had the power of inspiring, of producing elevated joy in me. These people represented the hope of future fulfillment in an intellectual environment. In contrast, it is a visceral sense of being in the present which the more reckless, earthy people provide. With them it is possible to feel physically, to the point of dizziness and sickness lingering as aftereffects, the involvement in some forbidden activities. Time in adolescence had the quality of short emotionally charged periods that left me feeling tired. One sleeps a lot and very deeply to be able to recuperate. I put myself through many experiments in order to know all the components of my inner life. At times, when I allowed myself to be swayed by the concerns of those who observed my behavior, I worried that I would get stuck in one world or another. But somehow, I knew it wouldn’t happen since I could put myself in any of the worlds and each one provided me with something different, all equally vital. I very carefully kept the various components of my life separate. I knew that some of my friends were considered “the right kind” of people while others “undesirable.” What seems to have neutralized the ups and downs in my emotional life was the presence of my “best” friend. I could go to her and speak openly about all my experiences and hear similar statements about her experiences which though different from mine were just as charged. Rather than endowing her with qualities which would trigger certain emotions in me, with her, I could sit back and examine the content of my inner life. We talked for hours about our feelings: loves, fears, 8
2 A Former Adolescent Tells It As It Was
thrills, hates, etc. We looked forward to the time that we would spend together away from our social environment and the actual experiences to put into words what we had been through. This made the results of our experiments better defined, more tangible. We listened to each otherâ€™s accounts, recreating the images associated with the emotions we had experienced so that they were lived again in a more familiar safer environment. In fact, my involvement in the talks was deeper and more personal than it had been during the actual experiences. As I spoke of my past activities I could be present in them in a way which the intensity of being in them had not allowed. I came to know my emotions through my emerging intellect which allowed me to recapture and enhance my experiences in the virtual. Looking back at my adolescence I see that there is a need at that time to compartmentalize oneâ€™s feelings in order to know them. Later, a person can trigger all the emotions he or she carries within because it is the self that does the shifting. Having gone through the experiments which allow one to know oneself in the most extreme states of sadness, elation, fear, anger etc., one can bring these states together balancing one with another, producing the sense of leading a more integrated existence. Sarah Benesch
3 The Time To Learn Who I Am
I have watched a few adolescents closely, including myself when I was one. My sensitivity has allowed me to take notice of some of the dynamics of growth characteristic of this age. In this article I shall stay with two inner movements belonging to adolescence. They can, I think, be recognized as vital to this age, and their repercussions can be acknowledged as being of significance for the rest of one’s life. One of these movements, as I perceive it, is towards becoming aware of one’s identity and being known by others as an individual in one’s own right. The other movement is towards knowing what it means to go beyond one’s identity by relating to others and knowing each of them as having a uniquely significant place in one’s life. Adolescence is a “difficult” time. There is pain involved and there are uncertainties because — besides the somatic changes which occur in a somewhat dramatic manner and which one has to learn to cope with somehow — at adolescence one carries a tension created by these two movements (seemingly pulling in opposite directions) which demand that one remain vulnerable to both of them simultaneously. The two movements within — the one of learning to know and state oneself as an individual, the other of exploring how to transcend the limitations of being concerned with one’s identity — are intuitively felt to represent one’s growth, and ask to be attended to. Their complexity requires that one learn to give the two movements their due place in life and create a balance between the two. Besides other tasks, an adolescent is given to learning to become a person capable of breaking the barriers of individuality even as one learns to be more and more an individual.
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The Will As An Instrument As one learns to live as an individual at adolescence, one asks oneself: “Who am I?” One puts this question to oneself in order to be able to relate, at a conscious level, directly to the intensity of one’s sense of oneself. In the quest for an understanding of this question, one begins to look for, and to generate, evidence in one’s life which confirms that no one but oneself is to take the responsibility for all that which takes place in one’s life. Even if it is not possible to have control over some of the events, it is not excluded that one learn to acknowledge one’s responses to those events as one’s own. Adolescents, are concerned with knowing that they are capable of entering into actions and experiences, avoiding them or abandoning them, entirely on the basis of their own will. Adolescents create situations which allow them to feel and let others know that their participation — or lack of it — is the expression of their will. The process of learning to individualize one’s life involves the active will, the form of energy which not only permits one to manifest what one knows one is, but also what one knows one can be. The will is thus instrumental at adolescence in developing, through one’s actions, a consciousness of one’s whole life as being an expression of oneself. This can lead to becoming aware of oneself as someone who is responsible for what one is and what one does with oneself. Because of this movement, adolescents engage in learning to see to it that they are not treated as pawns to be moved about at other people’s will, nor puppets who must act according to how others pull the strings. Time is spent by adolescents in an intensive assessment of their inner vitality, on the basis of which they intend to develop a sense of being independent of others and a sense of responsibility for themselves. One finds adolescents busy asserting their independence because they have discovered that unless they are willing to be nondependent on others, i.e. unless they know that their sense of themselves does not depend on what others think of them, they cannot learn what it is to be responsible to themselves for their entire be-ing. Because adolescence is the time of learning to become independent and responsible, not all attempts necessarily turn out to be the right ones. 12
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In the process of learning, mistakes occur. Adolescents have not only to learn to be sensitive to the mistakes so that they can correct them, but have also the hard task of learning to take the consequences of their mistakes. A disruptive tension can be caused at this stage by adults around if they are oblivious to the demands of adolescence on young people. The will takes a special form — that of commitment — and assists many an adolescent to remain given to discovering, in spite of all odds, his or her individuality. Parents often find their adolescent children defiant, resistant, resentful, irreverent, inconsiderate, difficult, etc. If adults looked beyond the level of behavior, they would find that an adolescent is, in fact, a serious apprentice, committed to learning to become a responsible, self-reliant person. The inner movement, essential to their growth, involves adolescents in ways which have been unknown to them thus far. They have to handle this new situation as well as the demands of people around them. Adults could gain a different perspective on adolescent behavior if they better understood the strains of the challenging apprenticeship required for living one’s adolescence. Adults could even facilitate the process by being in touch with its true nature.
Pitfalls In The Search For Identity One’s concern with an identity could become a self-imprisoning activity, particularly if one enters adolescence with a battered sense of oneself and finds oneself in the midst of an indifferent, unsympathetic and emotionally negative and uninspiring environment. Under such conditions one might feel the need to aggressively assert oneself. Under the pressure of this need, one might react rather than respond to situations thus reducing one’s chances of going through the process of learning what it is to be an individual. The inner movement in such cases can take the form of a preoccupation expressed with hostility, and can turn into an obstacle in one’s growth. It can result in the person becoming individualistic in a self-centered manner, and thus isolated from others.
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Knowing Others Through Relating — The Second Inner Movement The possibility of avoiding this dysfunctioning is part of the inner climate of adolescents. The presence of the second movement invites adolescents to learn to relate to others on their own initiative and thus transcend the limitations of a search for identity. Intimate contact with one’s affectivity pervades the inner climate of an adolescent, and there exists a readiness — even a keenness — to reach out for those with whom one could relate in trust. This movement urges one to look for and find at least one other person who could be felt to be as close to one as one is to oneself, or even closer. Adolescents seek to initiate and realize togetherness with such persons in the form of the close friendships which they develop with some of their peers. Just as the will is instrumental in the development of one’s sense of responsibility and independence, affectivity enables one to become vulnerable to others and capable of developing bonds in which others matter to one more than one matters to oneself. One’s life gains a special meaning because the other exists. One lives for that other and delights in knowing that one is prepared to die for him/her. Adolescents give themselves to exploring the special form of affectivity which love is. Adolescence can be said to be the period of life devoted to sensing the truth and beauty of love, to knowing what love is, what it is to receive love, what it means to give love, what the receiving and giving of love does to one, how one is transformed in the process of loving and being loved. Adolescents value friendship. They fall in love. They feel inspired by what they relate to. They willingly make sacrifices and bear hardships for what inspires them. In the process of learning to love, adolescents give themselves the chance to learn to go beyond their individual existence. There are many vistas which can be open to adolescents. Intellectual pursuits, arts politics, sciences, religion, social causes, interpersonal relationships — all are areas to which adolescents may relate in terms of their affectivity. They can choose to learn to relate to any of these intriguing expressions of the human mind in order both to understand them for what they are and to actualize their own capacity to go beyond themselves. Given a chance adolescents can generate, for themselves situations which are suited to reflecting on,
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sifting and finding out which vocation would best allow for a life on the social plane in harmony with their sense of themselves. Affectivity, in the form of inspiration, is energy that moves adolescents to further expand their existence and know themselves in depth. Adolescents can be inspired by “greatness” in whichever form they meet it. Inspiration becomes a tool for them to discover their capacity to engage selflessly in preserving and perpetuating that which is inspiring. The dynamics of affectivity, through inspiration, have the power to let one sense one’s state of relatedness to all that which is other than oneself which includes nature, various areas of pursuit of the human mind, and other people. Affectivity holds the promise of enhancing individuality by enabling one to be open to relate, with an inner authenticity and simplicity, to all that which comes one’s way. On the psychological plane all of us generate our own adolescence by being intensely engaged in learning to be accountable to ourselves for ourselves, with a feeling of indivisible bond with others. Chronologically speaking this happens between the ages of eleven or twelve and twenty more or less. If one sees children hurrying to acquire or being pushed into adult social behavior patterns at the cost of the psychological time meant for inquiring and discovering some sense of who they are and what their unique place in the world is — if, in other words, one sees children being robbed of their adolescence — would one not ask: WHY! Shakti Gattegno
I read the Adolescent and His Will ten years ago for the first time and it made a profound impression on me. It wasn’t until recently, however, when I reread it, that I discovered the full richness of the book. What is proposed is a redefinition of the notion of man from being the apex of the animal kingdom to not being an animal at all but being “evolving spiritual energy.” The author makes the point, which he develops throughout the book, that this notion is not only “nearer to the truth (but) … more useful than the notion that man is an animal.” This notion may allow educators to look at their task with a different eye. Although this book is vibrant with emotional charge, it is a scientific study, and the first thing we need to do in reading it is to empty ourselves of pre-existing notions. It is essential, in my opinion, to try not to let the terminology in the book trigger past experiences. For unless one yields to those realities of the author which are behind words like “spirituality,” “spiritual contagion,” “Temple of Greatness” which may be emotionally loaded for the reader, it is easy to miss the intent of the book. In this book, “spirituality” is another word for the human capacity for becoming aware of one’s self. “A human being says he is a spiritual being as he becomes aware of his spirituality. In the same way as we are made aware of our body and of the care to give it, of our intelligence and the necessity of cultivating, of our bond with others
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and of service that we owe them, we only reach our profound self — another word for which is will — thanks to a special act of finding oneself.” To have a “will” means that one is not molded by one’s environment, not condemned to becoming what the environment around one wants one to be. On the contrary, it means to have the power to “create” it. External reality must be received by each individual who organizes it and interprets it through the dynamics of his energy, or his affectivity as it is defined in the book. This does not mean that each of us lives in a separate world created by him; it means, rather, that the outside reality acquires existence for every one of us only when it is known, and since the knower is the creator of the knowing process, we in a sense, “create” the external world. Creation becomes thus not the gift of a few exceptional individuals but everybody’s birthright. The implications of this notion are revolutionary: as we educate our senses, our perceptions, or use action to activate the world around us, we in effect create the world, and as we expand, we cause the external world to expand also. In Western civilization the first twelve years of our lives are spent “at this double dialogue, between the self and its spiritual universe, out of which comes the ‘world.’” To become aware of this inner power, which characterizes human beings and which the author calls “spirituality” means to be able to use it deliberately. “The will,” this self-directing, self-structuring energy, is present throughout a human life, from conception on. In each of us it takes unique forms in the images, emotions and thoughts which we use in molding the discovery of that which is not “us” but is akin to us. It is only in adolescence, however, that we come in direct contact with this reality, which is uniquely human. In becoming aware of our affectivity we magnify it in order to be able to dwell on it, to explore it. This is the time of intense feelings and emotions, it is the time when love allows us to discover the “other” and hold him or her in us, when friendship makes us available to others, when we are ready to be inspired by greatness and aspire to emulate the great and the heroic. 18
“Being capable of loving, the adolescent is capable of giving to others what he feels awakening; being open to influence by others, he is ready to make contact with other lives, in particular to receive what is given through them, either directly or by means of social symbolisms (including religious practices).” (p. 110) Adolescence is the time when human beings have an opportunity to discover their true nature, which allows them to transcend their own culture and take responsibility for their own evolution. The author describes very vividly and passionately this age in which we can all testify how moved we were by beauty, ideals, a sense of service to others, and how often we were jarred by the cynicism and cold rationalism of the adult world. An understanding of the psychological reality of the adolescent would move educators to devise an approach to education which would be affective in nature rather than purely intellectual. “From the nursery school to the university, experience of the environment must be a dialogue, first between the self and the relational and rational universe, the universe of organized human relations (based on understanding and love), finally between the self and the transcendental universe, conquered by the living generations of poets, scholars, artists, philosophers and prophets.” (p. 106) If the educator is sensitive to the realities of the adolescent, he will have to acknowledge the spirituality of his charges and make his task that of fostering and nurturing it in order to create the men of tomorrow. The kind of education proposed in this book, differs radically from that which consists in perpetuating cultural heritages or filling the young with catalogues of facts and information. Rather, it proposes giving adolescents actual experiences, different modes of living as exemplified in different cultures so that these, which at present are for the most part considered absolutes, can be transcended and made relative. It is
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to help the young reach full awareness of their spirituality through love, service of others and admiration for those individuals who, in one way or another, have contributed to the evolution of humanity. It is an education which will lead â€œto the acquisition of fundamental knowledge, knowledge of the creative self in all its truth and diversity.â€? The Adolescent and His Will is an inspiring and inspired book which contains in germ many of the ideas developed by the author in later books. It is a book which not only provides a key for understanding such a difficult and problematic age as adolescence but allows one to rediscover and revitalize in oneself the power and wonderment of that age. Cecilia Bartoli
1 Allen and Annie Rozelle, who have been acting on our behalf for two and a half years in Paris, will be moving to Geneva. Allen will be teaching English to students studying in the French section of the International School, and will be laying the groundwork for a language center and for courses for teachers in the area. Our colleague Cecilia Bartoli will be moving from New York to Paris for a year. Her presence as our representative in Europe will give continuity to some of the work started there. We hope she will also be able to begin new projects and that teachers in Europe will find her presence there of benefit to them. The appeal of courses in English and other languages offered by “Pour l’Education de Demain” shows that interest in the Silent Way is spreading to the general public in France. 2 From our Fall and Spring brochure the following announcements will reach our readers several weeks before others who are on our mailing list. The awareness seminars, taking place on the first weekend of every month — October ‘79 to March ‘80, will be concerned with “A General Theory of Human Relativity.” The Gattegno Language School will soon be offering evening courses, besides the weekend workshops which we have offered for the last 13 years. For the first time, we will have classes in English, both during the week (day and evening) and on weekends. Intensive courses for the
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improvement of pronunciation in English will begin in September. We will be putting out a separate brochure for the Language School giving schedule details. Teacher Education, within the Gattegno Institute and outside it, will be intensified for mathematics, the language arts and special education. In particular, the great benefits that result from a systematic use of our new computer-made Animated Geometry films, will be made available to high school, junior college and college math teachers in the form of three courses, one in each of the three terms Sept. - Dec, Jan. - March, April - June. In the field of Learning Disabilities, our way of working in our Psychopedagogical Clinic will be offered as a course for those who wish to learn to involve their students in rapid remediation in the basic subjects. This course, at the same time theoretical and practical, will be linked for observation and case study to the actual treatments given at the Clinic. The Gattegno Institute Diploma in Learning Disabilities will be attainable by the applicants who qualify. The courses for Bilingual teachers will be expanded to include, French, Haitian Creole, and Chinese. Other languages in demand in the metropolitan area will be added as the need arises. 3 A booklet “Notes for Teachers on Animated Geometry” (new series) is ready for printing. Copies will be available by September. 4 The manual for monitors of the video tape series “English the Silent Way” was published at the end of May. Its production has required a major cooperative effort. We believe it will be of help to users everywhere since it is a close guide to the series, offering pedagogical advice for every one of the 140 lessons. The advice is essentially practical and will be readily understandable by monitors locally in charge of a program, provided they understand English, even if they are not necessarily teachers.
5 Dr. Katherine Mitchell, our colleague for the last ten years, has returned to Alabama to join the staff of the State Department of Education in Montgomery. We shall miss her and her contributions to this Newsletter. Our loss is Alabama’s gain. The State has acquired in her a worker with considerable experience in the remedial field (for reading and mathematics) just when it has been chosen by the Federal Government with two others (Arizona and Massachusetts) to evolve a national model for the eradication of illiteracy in urban and rural areas. We wish our friend success in all her endeavors back home. 6 Dr. A.J. (Sandy) Dawson, who spent his sabbatical of ‘77 - ‘78 studying at Educational Solutions and The Gattegno Institute, has been back at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby British Colombia. During his past academic year his seminars have included one which he molded around the themes of some of those he attended here. Papers contributed by his students show how deeply their study has affected them as persons and teachers. The article reproduced in this issue under the title “Affectivity at Work” is one of them. We welcome these contributions from outside and will endeavor to present excerpts from some of the others’ papers to our readers in future issues. 7 We announce a book Readings on the Silent Way, which is a collection of contributions by a score of people who have been closely related with us. All the articles have been selected because they represent, in one way or another, progress in the examination of the problems of teaching, learning, or observing, or add insights on language or languages. The growing interest in the Silent Way requires that more writings be made available to the public on what it was, is, and is becoming, as more and more creative minds join our ranks. We believe this book to be the first appropriate companion to the original writings which, for over 16 years, have remained the only literature in the field.
Affectivity At Work
How have I educated my own awareness and what kind of awarenesses did I educate myself in? This is a short journal in which I have scribbled some of my thoughts.
1 Awareness Of What Is Involved In Learning. 1 The empirical study of myself in the learning process enabled me to keep in touch with my experience in a way that nothing else could. Being a learner and having ME go through all those faltering steps gave me such an awareness of the learning process that it far surpasses reading any volumes of books. It drove home so succinctly that in order for one to really understand something, one needs to experience it oneself. I have been a teacher for so long (9 years) that it is so easy to lose touch with what a learner actually goes through in the learning process. While I have continued to be very much a learner in the sense that I take extracurricular courses and do considerable selfstudy, this kind of learning is on a different level. It involves merely adding on to what I already learned to use. I believe it is different from the kind of learning that students in school engage in and this awareness I needed to personally experience to know. A jungle of bewilderment confronts such a learner from whence ordinarily follows such feelings as confusion, frustration, uncertainty, curiosity, illumination and exhilaration. To identify with them is to know their feelings. Feelings can only be known from the first-person perspective. The empirical study had me (I, myself) go through the stages of
The Year Of The Child
learning. It provided the experiential encounter whereby I could feel the birth pangs of learning. One feeling stands out. I have re-learned that the feeling of confusion in learning is not always undesirable, is sometimes even necessary and may in fact prove to be challenging. The kind of confusion that hurts learning is where the frustration accompanying it leads to a giving up. However, without confusion, one tends to coast along in a sterile manner and may miss out on some of the subtleties of that particular subject one is learning. Confusion often causes one to probe further, to seek new angles and investigate other possibilities. It provides frustration of a different kind that eggs one onwards to a more thorough study. In the same way that a rainbow may come after rain, or strength from sorrow, so learning may be engendered from confusion. Having personally proved it, it gave me the courage to believe in it and in the classroom, not to deny students the right to be confused! Truly, the empirical study was a timeless experience that, having observed myself in it, gave me back the awareness of what is involved in learning that the years out of it had dulled. Further, because I was not just engaged in learning but was in a more advantageous position of learning about learning, it gave me the added opportunity of being aware of my awareness. Gattegno’s idea of “being present” is so rich and so full of significance here. Exposing myself to a situation and then allowing myself to go through it every step of the way, constantly being with it, and then out of it, being able to say “I have been there” — “I was present.” What a wealth of experiences this presents! In other areas of educating my awareness, I have found that “being present” works! 2 Studying others in the learning process. Although this sort of study produces an awareness that is one step removed from the kind obtained through an empirical study, nonetheless it is an awareness that is useful in further understanding the learning process. I would like to note one observation in particular. From the discussion following John Trivett’s math presentation, I have come to appreciate 26
Affectivity At Work
that each of us carry with us certain fears in learning. Two students in the class voiced their fear of math, something which I, brought up in the sciences all along, have found hitherto difficult to identify with. Their anxiety has made me realize that phobias are real in learning. It may take various forms but nevertheless it is there and has to be recognized. Since this awareness, I have been more understanding of students’ apprehensions in certain sections of biology which I teach (e.g. biochemistry) I see now, how their fear, so genuine for them, of things like molecules and bonds, positive and negative charges may pose a stumbling block to their learning. I am learning to be more encouraging and… more patient (! !)
2 Awareness Of What Is Involved In Teaching. Several things in the course were instrumental in my education in this area — tapes, discussions, reading materials — they provided sparks. The first awakening came with the first questions I started to ask. I am indeed amazed at how much of an “automatism” teaching had become until I started asking questions. I remembered stopping at the typewriter the last time I was going to set an examination. For the first time in a long while has my awareness been thus caught. In fact it is frightening to know that for so long I have gone through the motions of teaching without being really AWARE of what I was doing. How important it is to constantly “be present.” With this new evolution comes an astonishing open-mindedness — willingness to test new ideas and courage to discard the traditional. I am also constantly educating myself in being aware of my energy use, working towards getting more for less. Also, seeing when I should step in and provide clues to students as to how best they could channel their energy helped them towards more efficient use which in turn caused me to be more efficient — more for less again! Life presents a myriad of opportunities, a thousand occasions whereby I could do this. Day to day interactions with people, humdrum 27
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activities like driving, classroom situations ad infinitum. The whole world — a school! Yet it did not come easily. There were actually times when I needed to remind myself to be aware — imagine that! Awareness has to be a way of life, not something one puts on and off. I am still working at it. In trying to develop my awareness, I have often found many things distracting and have worked at trying to be unaware in order to be aware i.e. trying to shut out distractions. As long as distractions do not register, my awareness would not be affected. Telling myself that if I have less work to do, if I have more time to myself I could then work at awareness is kidding myself. Educating one’s awareness has to come in the midst of life’s distractions and just as it is possible to keep both eyes open and not see, it is equally possible to be surrounded by activities and yet be totally aware of only one. This fact was later driven home by another experience I went through and for which Gattegno had written about in his chapter on “Facts of Awareness.” Gattegno spoke of how one’s awareness becomes so total when one goes through grief that even an awareness of the awareness can become very sharp. I suffered a loss recently which caused me a lot of grief. In that situation, my awareness of the loss was very acute. My whole being was focused on it and it enveloped me completely, shutting out all else. When something affects your core like this, you are totally aware of it. At times through that period, I did manage to detach myself and try to find out what it is that gave me the awareness. Those who have gone through a similar situation know. Awareness, in this case comes through constant recalling, total immersion of oneself to the exclusion of even physical necessities like food and sleep, being completely present to the situation all the time, and most importantly, thought in the sense of cognition was not necessary. (Before this experience, I felt that awareness must surely involve thinking.) In studying my awareness, I had moved to the next level — I was now aware of my awareness. I found that when I moved to this second level, I was no longer aware of my grief! How amazing! Gattegno makes sense after all! There are other levels to reach! I want to “stick to it,” I am hanging on. In fact, I am still trying to catch hold of all of it.
Affectivity At Work
I would like to leave this journal as an unfinished story — unfinished because I am still educating myself, still moving along, still evolving. Awareness is not a ritual, there is nothing sacred to it. Awarenesses, once so illuminating, can also be dulled. On the other hand, to the unaware, a brook could flow through their front door and they would not even hear the music. Awarenesses — they increase the quality of one’s life and one’s teaching. Thank you, Sandy for starting me on this road! Yok-king Ng
These poems (mentioned above) were composed at a session on writing which took place at the workshop in Brattleboro. Only the ESL Word Charts were used in this exercise, and we feel our readers will appreciate the outcome. I could I would I should get up and go but why is there somewhere where I can be myself that self of mine that sees everything to be seen that hears everything 29
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there is to hear that does everything to be done where is that place if I could find it I would go at once go there on my own to feel alive again. You gave me different names for what she did I put them end to end, longer and longer But none of them were right We left them there for her to put together She took one And out of dark came light Why did he come? Because he is old Why did you give him some I donâ€™t know How has he done All that is good By giving a part of himself I wish I could If every wish could be seen They would come in orange green yellow and red They take color from the light of life They speak across the dark wells That hide behind the black and white I was born, Love was my teacher through my early life. Soon, though, winter came to me. I could feel the heavy weight of my life close down to zero. Spring has come again to my life. It is as if a century were closing, another beginning. 30
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But I must learn love again. I told ‘m I took ‘m I gave ‘m I made ‘m He gave me He got me He left me Without ‘m So get me another different not taken I’ll be Together Longer For ever Give a different name To what you hear, feel and see And you will be new As if you’d come for the first time Among these things You’ve known before But never seen, nor heard Give a different name To your very self Will it not be As if you could Once again Begin The green woman often went into a week of half days. Her present couldn’t be caught except when she showed boys and girls what stood in the mid-morning moments where every act counted. 31
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Who gave her the right to speak anyway? Worse than all who brought words of months and years to them, she could never expect to gain their minds’ tomorrow. She wasn’t the mother or even a woman with a future. Shall we go together into the darkest blue of our nameless selves and look under what is different in you and in me to the lighter color, us then listen across the length of another yes before we speak the little that we know? It isn’t enough to drop small givens into the box between us We each can see better together. Do you see the many colors that are in our light? Some are short and some are long, some are here and some are there, some are yours and some are mine. I left the darker ones for you and took the yellows and reds but we can put this together and find another name if you like. It isn’t the taking apart that gives us green. Those who will Those who shall these who do and long these who yes these are mine these did these yessed these are the ones they took they gave they lit. Life began in July - too quickly It fell on me between left and right But tomorrow morning will be autumn. It will end. Black will touch me among the blues and spell quiet for always — everywhere
Affectivity At Work
I look at one And then another Which one do I like I look from left to right At the long and the short The dark and the light The black and the white It’s hard to tell I want them all I can’t let go of one For the other That’s the part of me That can’t take one Without the other My will is the same, different, black white, dark, light, here, there, yes, no one two of many I’s. Take it and put it together if you can and I’ll be one not two, me not many — if you can THIS IS THE LAST ISSUE OF VOLUME VIII OF OUR NEWSLETTER. For your September ‘79 to June ‘80 issues, renew your subscription now. Send $7.25 if in the United States and $11.50 (U.S. currency) if overseas. $1. 50 when requesting individual copies.
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 Nov 10, 2009