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Teaching The Deaf

Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc.

Caleb Gattegno

Newsletter

vol. X no. 4

April 1981


First published in 1981. Reprinted in 2009. Copyright Š 1981-2009 Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc. Author: Caleb Gattegno All rights reserved ISBN 978-0-87825-304-3 Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc. 2nd Floor 99 University Place, New York, N.Y. 10003-4555 www.EducationalSolutions.com


Since Ponce de Leon in the sixteenth century taught the deaf Spanish Infant to speak, large numbers of the teachers of the deaf have centered their attention upon making the deaf into “normal� students learning their school subjects verbally. The field of the education of the deaf has become a political field, i.e. opinions rather than facts dictate action; sects are found everywhere and common sense is not really trusted. In this issue of our Newsletter we want to try to let common sense make its weight felt. The three articles that follow concern themselves with (1) the universe of the deaf, (2) the possibility of giving the active senses their place in compensating the loss of hearing, and (3) the translation of the above into teaching techniques and materials specially produced for the education of the deaf in school. It seems for the challenge of teaching the deaf, that an approach both theoretical and practical is better than a purely practical approach which may succeed by chance and better than a priori theoretical approach which can become a creed without support from facts and therefore not be compelling intellectually. Both of the last two approaches mentioned have dominated the scene for more than four centuries. If the above alternative exists it seems right to make it known. This Newsletter intends to contribute to that end. The News Items include reports covering our present research and our present work in the social spheres. The economic and social pressures felt in education are shifting the stress to the immediate preservation of one’s job. As a result educators are becoming less attentive and are losing sight of the urgent need for less expensive solutions which also respect the right of students to using their time profitably.


Table of Contents

1 The Universe Of The Deaf .................................................. 1 2 Relating To What The Deaf Can Do.................................... 7 3 What Is Available Today In The Fields Of Language And Mathematics ........................................................... 13 A. Mathematics................................................................................ 13 B. Language ..................................................................................... 16 4 A Report On A Video Course ........................................... 23 News Items ......................................................................... 33 Important Note! ................................................................. 41


1 The Universe Of The Deaf

If the deaf could speak they would share with the rest of mankind what their universe is like. Those who have tried are few and far between. Some have written. More often it is one who is not deaf but sensitized to that universe who has tried to build a bridge from the deaf to the hearing. Such a bridge provides a contrast between the worlds of the deaf and the hearing. It does not show us the world of the deaf and so is a loss in emphasis and a distraction from enlightenment. In discussions with people connected or working with the deaf, it becomes clear that the deaf are generally seen as lacking something, not as people to be understood for what they are. To see them as handicapped, as a burden on their various communities may seem socially justified but is it intellectually and spiritually so? Will we not be doing more justice to the situation by stopping comparing and by getting close to the actuality of living in a universe free of sounds in order to understand its reality and its promises? Such work of the imagination is necessary but not sufficient. There is need for a sensitivity which remains in control, being careful not to let the imagination forget that the aim is to understand objectively the universe of silence in which the deaf live. A positive silence not an absence of noise. Of course, it may be harder to study those among the deaf who have been given hearing aids and made to enter the universe of the hearing, than those who have no hearing at all. For the latter, additional factors

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Teaching The Deaf

such as the effect to sounds and noises have had on their perception of the world are present. The hearing, automatically believe it must be an improvement on the situation whereas it may be an interference from their egocentric view of their world. The method of work we adopt in the study of the deaf is the same one which has yielded understanding of the expansion of experience for all humans from conception to death. Each of us is a conscious self changing its time into experience through the activities of knowing. Knowing is hierarchical in that we must first give ourselves the means of exploration of what will be objectified into our known inner universe, before we can use that to explore further. For example we can dwell in our senses before we use our perceptions to guide our actions. Hence we study perception before action. Similarly we need to act before we make action virtual and generate the corresponding concepts for our intellectual activity. The deaf will know the world as we all do, but will not dwell in the useless ear that does not bring only contribution to the self. To be present in one’s senses is as much the birthright of the deaf as for the rest of us and the deaf do that as easily as we do. Receiving input from all the senses except the ear will make the self dwell in them and develop a trust in what they yield. As babies we all have to know how our muscles respond to our will and among those muscles are all those we use for phonation. Hence the deaf have access to the muscle tone of their lips, their tongue, the vocal cords and the lining of the mouth and know how to affect it for certain ends. What they cannot do is link that knowing to the effects on the ear of the modulated energy that come out of their mouths. Therefore they continue that exploration and stop it at the mouth while those who can hear find so much more to engage in because of the connection used to make sense of the noises and sounds in the environment. The other senses can all be dwelt in to yield the knowing that encourages remaining with them. Hence the deaf dwell in their eyes because it is fruitful to do so and they do not suspect that they lose something by not dwelling in their ears. They do not miss what they do not know.

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1 The Universe Of The Deaf

The meanings in their world result from the truth of the energy impacts their self receives through the eyes, the skin, the nose and the other senses. All of us as preverbal babies do the same. Hence the universe of the deaf is as complete as that of preverbal babies for that time. It is that completeness which extends itself when new experiences present themselves and are assessed and interpreted by the means available. Images are energy. Visual images are as easily produced by the deaf as by the others. The question for the investigator of the universe of the deaf is: “What can be done with visual images as such and with visual images related to the rest of the ways of knowing that are not dependent on the ear?” Since visual images remain unadulterated the deaf can be trusted to have more vivid visual images because they can be enhanced in the self rather than labeled and often replaced by words. Knowing through the eyes will therefore serve all that which does not need to be socialized through language and which can be reached directly without the intermediary of speech. And there is a lot of that in our lives. The physical uses of oneself such as standing, walking, running, jumping, climbing, throwing, catching, aiming, folding, tying, cutting, etc. Coordinating one’s hands, one’s limb’s the energy needed to lift, throw or carry, with what is the object of one’s actions are also accessible to the deaf and managed as well by them as by the rest of us. So also is access to color, to shape, to imbrication, to contrasting sizes and forms. Access to one’s expression of emotions and to the recognition of its expression in others. Of course, the list is much longer and needs to be known in its entirety if we want to relate to the deaf properly. It contains any of the attributes and qualities which are directly accessible through sight, touch, resistance to effort estimation of temperature, humidity, fluidity, etc., i.e. one’s skin and in particular one’s active touch by the hands. What is not present is what demands hearing: the world of sounds, music, language. It is a loss only within the context of these being valued. This the hearing do and therefore they pity the deaf for not 3


Teaching The Deaf

knowing them. Since each of us is deaf or blind to large components of reality and does not feel a sense of loss — for example not perceiving the microscopic or the speed of computers — we can easily conceive that what is accessible to the deaf can fill life in the manner ours can be filled by all we can grasp. We may even consider that we cannot really reach silence in ourselves except through very demanding disciplines that most of us avoid. Yet it is basic for the deaf. When we seek it and achieve it we grant ourselves great merit! Could we imagine what it would be like if we were endowed with it from the start of life — like the deaf! If a deaf person really needs the benefits of speech he is then surely handicapped. But does he, on his own, want to have what he cannot conceive? It seems unlikely. He may need to relate to others. But would he choose to do it through an inaccessible medium? Would he not invent means that make relating possible for him? Means of expression that are at first, made consistent with what he feels and thinks and only then tried out to see if they trigger in others similar understanding of the world around? If some do, they will be retained and from being means of expression then become means of communication. Touch surely can serve such purposes sometimes; also and, more swiftly, eye contact and eye expression. No one person has all the means of expressing the needs of the whole of mankind. We are all expert at expressing some aspects of our inner and outer life, but in many cases we are either very clumsy or totally inadequate, often not even suspecting that we could try. We normally only use proven means for proven occurrences neglecting the rest. This is what the deaf do too. They use facial expressions, gestures so long as these convey what they experience within and find them adequate to lead others to where they wish them to be. This may be improved to generate the best manual movement equivalent to a trigger of meaning, such as, “come here,” “go away,” “be closer,” etc. Not the words but the meaning. And this is intuitively grasped for example when offering an embrace or a kiss. The deaf have no need of words, but they have need of others. Thus they are ready to give themselves to either inventing, or sharing those gestures which go beyond the expression of emotions, which attempt to

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1 The Universe Of The Deaf

express a clear thought such as he left,” “she is coming,” “I do not know,” “I think or I believe” for which there is mental evidence. In that respect the deaf own language even if they do not own any speech. To transform this endowment into an existing language, like English say, is perhaps a hard job, but it is not impossible. The fact that it is possible tells us something about the endowment and hence something of the universe of the deaf. A beginning of the “natural” language of the deaf is found in the means used by preverbal babies to convey what goes on inside them and unrelated to the words they will use later. Although it cannot easily be seen from outside, a deaf person’s mind is endowed with several dynamics used by all of us. The deaf can use perceptual recognition to complete a gestalt, only a small part of it being visible. Hence we must grant them the power of recognition. They of course, can recall as we do that which is stored in their active memory. Hence we must grant them both the power of evocation and those of retention and recall. They can see a change when it takes place, and presume that a change took place if what they see differs to a certain degree from what they remember. We must grant them the powers of detection, of discrimination, of alteration, of completion, of uniting and of separating, of accumulating, of sorting out, of classifying which means of putting together those items displaying certain attributes and apart those which do not display them. The distinctive attributes being as numerous as can be spotted and recognized. Within their own universe the deaf are as much at home as anybody else and are entitled to a feedback from us that we know this. When we place them in conditions of our choice they may like we would find themselves lost or inadequate or simply needing adjustment. When the most brilliant among us suddenly find themselves in a very alien environment they too can feel lost or inadequate. Like these bright people the deaf will need assistance in a foreign milieu. Our contention is that it is possible to rethink the education of the deaf in terms which take into account their powers and lets them enter worlds which are not open to them because the obstacles put in their 5


Teaching The Deaf

way appear too great but which can become their own if presented in terms that invoke their powers. It is for us to find how to make those presentations since we are those who decide what they must assimilate to join our ranks. It is for us to be sure that we have translated our goals in terms understandable to the deaf, that is, that we have found the manner of by-passing all that which will appear arbitrary to them and therefore not fathomable. During the last twenty-eight years a number of opportunities were offered us in the fields of language and mathematics to do precisely that and come up with working solutions. Anyone who has considered the challenge of using the mental powers of the deaf will recognize at once that our suggestions are realistic and will work with the next group of deaf students.

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2 Relating To What The Deaf Can Do

Most of our experience ends up as the capacity to do more with ourself. More means different things in different areas. As soon as we have developed the mental structures or the dynamics behind or in them we use them to produce other mental structures and other dynamics. We learn to grasp so that we can hold instruments that allow us to take food to our mouth, cut with scissors or knife, turn a screwdriver or a car wheel. We learn to speak so that we can say anything we want; to hold a pen so that we can write our thoughts, feelings or discoveries. We learn to see by engaging in many activities which include our eyes. But not necessarily only our eyes. We focus or scan using our eyes and the muscles moving them. We stress the borders of shapes and determine areas which can be hollow or variously filled or colored. We expand or narrow areas, distracting them as we will or keep them similar. We relate to classes of figures as well as to individual figures. Classes are the essence of concepts. Hence concepts are accessible independent of the words we usually use to introduce them to those who don’t know them. We can understand which classes serve as support for the various concepts we want to integrate or generate and thus eliminate the step of verbal definition ordinarily resorted to among hearing people. In this way we see a process by which we can relate to what works for the deaf and make them experience it as natural and also as naturally

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leading to a concept we think is indispensable to extend their mind. Using film and animation techniques will serve this purpose immediately and effectively as we shall see in the third article of this issue. What this possibility means for us is that we can use sight which is functional in the deaf to compensate the verbal deficiency resulting from deafness. But more than this we give them the profound experience that they are equipped for intellectual activities was not possible when we stressed the handicap of deafness and the way of literacy before conceptualization. Working on a multitude of concepts that we meet explicitly and systematically when instructed at school with a bias towards textbooks, it has been possible to devise an alternate way only involving the eye. Once it is mentally clear the concept can be labeled in writing so as to be triggered by the visual appearance of the label. But it can also be linked visually to other concepts and met as a presence in ad hoc objects and actual actions on them. Once we doubt that there is no thinking which can be carried out without words, we are ready to meet thinking for what it is; i.e. extra verbal, although capable of taking a verbal form or a notational form in many cases. The deaf who have not found their salvation by themselves, have not been presented with the world of thought that has almost always been met by most of us as presented in print, the transportable form of language. They missed thought if they missed its vehicle: language, as so many do nowadays. But that is not inevitable. We, educators, need to manage to reach thought in its essence and its extra verbal reality, and if we can to find the means of making it palpable and tangible before we label it to let it enter its linguistic form. There are ways of asking questions which by-pass words. They are needed by the deaf. We must offer them to the deaf and test whether they help them in their intellectual growth. A simple physics experiment in which moving the position of a tray may produce an equilibrium where there was none, speaks for itself and does not use words. How many such mental processes can we provide so that we can 8


2 Relating To What The Deaf Can Do

offer them to the deaf, is one of the challenges of giving the deaf their right to thought. Any number of physics and chemistry experiments are of this nature. There may be as many easy ways of presenting the criteria used in the classificatory sciences of botany, geology, mineralogy and zoology so that the deaf perceive the attribute which decides the place of a biological item or a stone in the hierarchical edifice of these sciences. Acquiring experience outside words is not the obstacle. There is plenty of evidence to prove that the deaf know it. Observing through their eyes and learning through action have been their constant experience from early childhood. The obstacle is in the prescribed entry into school subjects. Valid to a certain extent for the hearing, the usual presentation of subject matter in book form, conflicts with the fact that the deaf have not acquired the language used in those books. Rather than throw away the presentation and start in other ways, we embark upon the most difficult task of giving the deaf the language of the environment. Of course, if we had succeeded in that the problem would have disappeared. But few deaf people manage a sufficient mastery of language — in the way it is taught today — to be able to cope with textbook presentations of subject matters. For the majority the special fields of knowledge remain beyond their reach. The ordinary conclusion is that their handicap is too great for that task and they must give up the ambition of being able to handle intellectually such matters. Ordinarily in schools for the deaf the job of teaching language consumes so much time that no one believes there is a possibility of taking the student even to a level of performance in the other subjects (math, science, social sciences) reached by much younger hearing children in their schools. So no one attempts it. Since this is universally known and progress in language teaching has been so slow, one would think that there would be some chance for an adventurous educator proposing something new to be heard. Our experience for twenty-eight years has been contrary. The preconceived ideas which reign in the schools for the deaf do not come from the 9


Teaching The Deaf

study of the mental powers of the populations present there, but from the certainty that concepts are generated by the words which serve to refer to them and the deaf are not prone to enter the world through the words. It would take little to show that meanings associated with words are directly perceptible for a vast area of experience and that if we start with perception as the source of meaning we can see how the hearing learn to speak their language to the remarkable extent the young hearing manage everywhere. We suggest that further support is found in the comment observation that ordinarily, grownups find learning a second language very difficult. They already have all the concepts. They only need to acquire the words and some rules about them and still a very small fraction of these adult students show any respectable mastery of the new language. If we thought of teaching language to the deaf as that of a foreign language we would feel more sympathy for their troubles. But few teachers grant them the owning of concepts and therefore the reference must be to one’s first language and to its function as a vehicle for knowledge. No sympathy is forthcoming since on the whole the first language is learned so easily by most of us. Irritation is more common than sympathy in language classes for the deaf. The dilemma occurs because the public wants proof that a possibility of learning in a new way exists but is not prepared to abandon its preconceptions. There is a latent interest in some possible breakthrough but it should not be through a too radical departure of the secular experience of schools. After all, the weight of tradition cannot be balanced against the proposals of one investigator. Common sense, if it were really common, would tell us to take into account the reality of the learner at least as much as of tradition, to consider the learning achieved spontaneously by the deaf, to be guided in one’s judgment of what expectations one can have for the use of the senses which are not impaired. The deaf have a smaller audience in the general public than the blind. It is difficult to imagine that someone who can use his eyes and find his way in crowded places, is more handicapped in his school studies than 10


2 Relating To What The Deaf Can Do

someone who is lost anywhere he is left. The hearing blind can play the game of the hearing and retains very easily what reaches him through his working senses and that is language, the vehicle of all our schooling. The blind are handicapped physically but not mentally. It is the opposite for the deaf. Let us give equal treatment to all of them. Let us make maximum use of the open channels to the intellect. For the deaf it is the eyes, and subsidiarily the hands for manipulation. Maybe we shall then be able to give them their true place in that same arena where all members of a community — be it school, district, nation — compete to acquire knowledge and the advantages that follow from it. For that our prejudice in favor of language must yield. We must be willing to meet the strengths of the deaf. They are there and numerous. We must cultivate them properly and be inventive in our ways of meeting them so that as few as possible of the deaf miss their entry into the world of the mind common to all of us. This covers the sciences and the humanities and social living in an economically advanced society. The deaf show us how well they can do if assisted in an adequate manner. Some samples of this follow, much more is available and much more remains to be done.

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3 What Is Available Today In The Fields Of Language And Mathematics

A. Mathematics In a monograph written in 1955, published in 1958 and out of print for many years, a proposal was made which embodied the above considerations and recommendations. Essentially it suggested that the deaf be given instruments that they could act upon to generate the visible equivalent of a concept or an operation and that writing be used at once to put in formulae the extracted awareness. By-passing the spoken language was possible and made available what was needed to study arithmetic. Colored rods (now named Algebricks) of 1 sq. cm section had the two properties of being of the same color if of equal length and this differed from those of other colors by multiples of the smallest one. These two properties allowed students to understand equivalence and equality clearly and how lengths were additive by making trains of equal or different lengths. The rods were labeled by associating with each of them a design that was the first letter of the name of its color in the language of the students’ environment. Thus it was possible to write r=r for the visible fact that two “red� rods were of equal length; and b r + y or y + r or p + g or g + p etc. to tell 13


Teaching The Deaf

that the length of the black rod could be made of a multitude of different trains. The difference between = and — which is subtle and generally ignored even for hearing students — becomes immediate to the deaf who see that it is used only when the relation between trains of the same length permits the presence of variables upon which we can choose to dwell at once or later. Thus the deaf not only can acquire arithmetic facts deemed of importance in school curricula, but they are put in contact with the truth in a direct manner that will remain available from then on. If we teach children to represent a rod by a letter, a train by as many letters as there are rods in it separated by + signs and put between the naming of two or more trains of equal length we have given them a straightforward means of writing any number of mathematical statements. This stresses the pervasive property of equivalence at the same time as it allows each singular arrangement to be represented in the string of equivalences as was shown above in the case of the black rod. It will be easy to extend that general knowledge, for example as soon as the numerals 1, 2, 3‌ 10 are introduced as the expression of the visible alteration of a set to which the student is adding a rod and recording the act. Numerals become attributes of sets, labels for visible properties, transferable to other sets in which the objects change but not the property. Once say a few of these numerals are available equivalences such as g w + w + w or 3w d r + r + r or 3r can be written as the actual translation of what is seen. From g 3w or d 3r we extract w 1/3g and r 1/3d since 1/3 can be seen as one out of three and present in the equivalence between a rod and a train of three other equal rods. Once this process of translating into writing what can be perceived becomes established through a few examples, it yields not only what has actually been done but what can be done. Hence, the concept of addition, the concept of measure, the concept of labeling a measure in terms of the unit of measurement, the concept of reversing relationships and labeling the new awareness. This is of course much more than the mere arithmetical fact of some addition.

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3 What Is Available Today In The Fields Of Language And Mathematics

The above example is simple enough to illustrate how the deaf can be given access to mathematics without prior mastery of enough English language to verbalize these awarenesses. But it also tells us that that mathematics content is wider than the most elementary items the curriculum may require from them at that stage. The deaf’s mental powers are being used and they yield what is possible to them. In this case good mathematics functioning as a new curriculum integrating the old one while making sense to the deaf because at once visible. All the concepts of the elementary school curriculum have been treated in that way and are therefore available to all the teachers of the deaf who want to share the approach with their classes. But with other instrument we can do much more for those same students and merely because we know how to by-pass the spoken language and go straight from perception and action to the written notation. We have put a great deal of geometry in that form in inventing various Geoboards on which elastic bands stretch to produce segments of straight lines. Another instrument is made of the animated geometry films Nicolet made in the ‘40’s and which have inspired the deaf more than anything else. These films have in part been remade and expanded. In the hands of an able teacher they can produce marvels if not miracles. The trigonometry films have their place with students wanting to enter that subject. Nowadays the microcomputer is providing further opportunities which need to be confirmed through tests. We shall report on them on future occasions. What all this means is that the deaf can be catered for if we want, provided we are willing to by-pass language. We can go one step further and state our strong feeling that the effect on the deaf of all this nonverbal work generates openings in their minds which will facilitate a comprehension of what the mind can create to embrace reality and draw out of it more than meets the eye. One of the expected results is a deeper understanding of symbolism

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and of arbitrary signs attached to perceptible meanings, i.e. of language. This may help in a way not foreseen so far.

B. Language Among teachers of the deaf we find a number of attitudes toward and definitions of language and speech. They are there because the field is not clear nor is it being made clear as long as people identify with their own tastes and loyalties. In our June 19 74 Newsletter, an attempt was made to define language and languages in terms valid for the hearing and which could help make sense to the deaf. Since meanings do not come from words but are associated with words by those who can become aware of their own perceptions and note their universality labels are coined for them. Words in an evolved society cover perceptions not only of objects and their respective relationships in space, time, identity, differences (which include color, plurality, magnitude, separatedness etc.) but also of the inner life which casts shades, hues and nuances in every human situation so that new words come into being which refer to the invisible, the impalpable, the problematic and other subtle components of affective and intellectual perceptions. A model for the whole of language is difficult to produce and none exists that is fully satisfactory. We have to make do with what we have and can offer at present. The model in the Newsletter mentioned above was sufficient to account for the proposal we had made earlier of how to teach language to the deaf by by-passing speech. The spoken language involves speech or the many acts of producing voluntarily the sounds one wants to utter and which serve to relate to others if they too use them in the same way. Communication takes place if the expresser and the listener acknowledge overlapping areas of associated meanings to these sounds. Otherwise one is merely expressing oneself.

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3 What Is Available Today In The Fields Of Language And Mathematics

The deaf have to forego the spoken language, at least until they can join the ranks of the speaking deaf, a minority at the present time. But must they also forego the written language? This is a challenge to the imagination of educators. If we enter this field with a sense of what language is, we may find that it is possible to give the project a concrete form and indeed teach the deaf to read and write without having to go through the spoken language prohibited to them by their condition. The solution was dubbed (and trade-marked) by the three words “Absolute Visual Reading,” to make clear from the start that sounds were by-passed. In that solution two universes of perception were presented as coherent, consistent systems having dynamic laws that could be clearly seen by the deaf and learned separately and jointly. One was the universe of written words produced by a word machine which had movable parts on which letters and groups of letters were printed in color. The color did not play a role in the beginning but was put there so that one day it can serve to answer a question from some deaf student and generate the awareness that these words could also be uttered according to some visible rules. The machine has a number of wheels on which these colored signs are placed so that when a number of them are aligned in a window they can produce a word of the language we intend to convey. Deaf students learn to manipulate the machine so as to produce words shown them by the teacher in the classroom model of the machine. Once matched these words can be copied on paper providing the meaning of writing as a recording of fleeting words which appear and disappear in the machine. What is more is that the students realize that in that universe there are laws of composition of signs to make words. A few of them are so easily exemplified by the machine that they can become second nature to the deaf in no time. “Substitution” of some signs for others will generate new words, at becomes it; sat becomes sit; mist becomes must; must becomes mast; sit becomes fit; fit becomes pit; pit becomes pot and then pet and so on. “Addition” of signs provides new words such as past from pat and pest from pet while “reversal” of the order of signs is another way of producing new words: pat yields tap, map yields pam,

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ten yields net and so on. Taken together they may link words to each other without any reference to meaning or sound. The deaf will see that there is a world with simple rules that generate recognizable entities whose links with each other are as perceptible as the words themselves. Once familiar with that universe of items that are arbitrary but capable of being regulated as in the word machine, they can be introduced to the other universe of perception which in Absolute Visual Reading is a set of animated pictures on a film. What is conveyed to the viewers is that it is possible to use some of the words produced by the word machine consistently to accompany images when they appear. Categories of objects distinguishable by some features but assimilable by others could be given the same label. Thus if a figure of a man is labeled man, then another one will be given the same label. And another too. From then on the word man will be triggered by such figures or trigger such figures. Other words label other things, rat and bun for example appear when respectively the drawing of a rat or bun is shown. At once other labels appear when the figures are multiplied, men replaces man, rats replaces rat and buns, bun. Then the words this and that are introduced to indicate that we contemplate a figure at a distance close to or far from the viewer; and these and those for the same attribute associated with plurality. The assumption is that after viewing a segment of the film the students will be made to use the word machine to generate a number of labels for the common objects around them and affect them by plurality, as well as a choice of one or other of the four labels this, that, these, those, according to distance and plurality. A great deal of English can be introduced in the film, but of course much, much more can be added in the classroom by extending what has been presented to include everything of the same kind present in the surrounding environment. Students know their role in this game is at first simply the recipient of what is put in circulation by the film and the teacher. But soon the functional words that are being introduced become tools to express in 18


3 What Is Available Today In The Fields Of Language And Mathematics

writing what is perceived as a combination of those parts which have been correctly triggered. Thus having seen that: this man is standing and that man is sitting can produce the four statements that result from alternating who is doing one or the other the label while can be made perceptible and the longer statement: this man is standing while that one is sitting made. Of course many more statements are possible here. In the lessons that follow the teacher can use the students’ names and make one of them write on the chalkboard the words describing the scene arranged in front of them as: “M is standing while N is sitting” or “M and N are standing while P and Q are sitting” (assuming that the part of the film about is and are has been seen and used earlier). Letting students know which alterations of the writing are permissible and are as good a description of the situation in front of them will give to the written statements they have the flexibility of the perception. For M and N or P and Q can be those sitting or standing. In the beginning all statements can be written up but soon the algebra behind them will make it possible to imagine that if one is written the others could be written too. There is a world of possibilities in the dynamics of how we enter a description of what can be done with a changing scene knowing that to see embraces many items simultaneously but writing it forces an order in the mentioning of the items perceived. This experience of the presence of temporal sequences in writing generates an entry into the necessity of placing labels in order and the choice that in English the writing is from left to right and from top to bottom; that the labels are separated one from the other; that some orders can be altered but others not; that some words are invariable and others altered according to perceptible criteria such as plurality and distance and several others to be recognized in due time. It is our responsibility to pass on to the deaf the criteria we have to change words in statements such as replacing you by he or she according to whether we look at a person or refer to him or her with our head turned. This work of reading the criteria involved in many of our awarenesses of our world leads very quickly to our having at our disposal content for classroom lessons in which the students use their

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intelligence and their sensitivities first to make distinctions and then to note how they affect the strings of signs they put down on paper. Then we can say that the dynamics of the mind have descended into the written language and will serve as a true language for expression for the deaf as it does for us: spoken or written, If we did not have a film some of this work could be done; more painfully and not as efficiently, but still done as a result of our awareness that language is in the flesh not in the memory, that language is a total response to the mutual interaction of the mind and the world, both dynamic, precise and alterable. Perception is complex and in it synthesis and analysis are at work. The need to align words in time imposes a discipline we must make sure has been felt as necessary by the deaf as it is by the hearing. Writing of course imposes it but not only because of the irreversibility of time. The unrolling of a sentence makes each word add its contribution to those of the previous one creating a climate, images, sensations, references which together complete a certain effect called the meaning of the sentence. It is sufficient to go over any one of the preceding sentences in this paragraph to be sure of that. The written language will do for the deaf what both the spoken and the written languages do for us. They will organize the infinity of items present in our perception into a small number of differing items evoking a great deal more than their shape or form, as compatible associations not translatable into words. This helps to create the inner climates of those engaged in verbal intercourse, the intimate images only known to the speaker or the writer, the sensations accompanying them as well as the echoes produced by one’s memories certainly unique for each of us. We therefore know that language teaching is a lot more than passing on the accumulation of items in one’s vocabulary. That to teach language to the deaf is to work on their sensitivity, to make it operative in many directions, in various intensities and contexts. For that we find that the materials developed for English as a second language in The Silent Way are appropriate to the deaf’s exploration of language. Whenever they have been put in front of the Word Charts they have confirmed this finding — as also in France with the materials for French as a second language.

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3 What Is Available Today In The Fields Of Language And Mathematics

What we want to stress here is that by offering a lot more to the deaf than traditional teaching recommends we have received from them also a great deal more. We have always found that by trusting their intelligence and their sensitivity they have rewarded us with much more retention, much more understanding, much swifter progress and a greater readiness to move ahead. To move into the spoken language helped as they are by a strong insight of what language is about and for. Then the colors we maintained in the words become indicators of somatic directions to their intact phonation apparatus. The will at work on the voluntary system can use the intelligence of the muscular changes in the organs of the voice to correspond with the visual clues represented by the colors, which go with an intellectual intelligence fostered by the instruments used for teaching them the written language. In a few words, having learned to cooperate with the powers of the mind of our deaf students we can take them where we took ourselves with the same kind of achievement and ease. From where they find themselves they can take care of themselves and promote their own education according to their gifts and intuition.

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4 A Report On A Video Course

Face à l’Education, a Swiss association based in Geneva, is currently running a 60-hour Hebrew course, using Hebrew, The Silent Way, the video language program produced by The Silent Way Video Co. Inc. The present course began at the end of November 1980 and takes place in 10-hour, intensive segments once a month. Thus far, the five students have completed between 30 and 40 hours of Hebrew with the video series. I am the course coordinator or “teacher” though I am not a native Hebrew speaker. In fact, the only Hebrew I know, I have learned working alongside students, themselves learning Hebrew, using Hebrew, The Silent Way. I have done 112 course hours of Hebrew over the last three and a half years. Because of the way I work with the video material, about half that time (55 hours) represents time spent viewing the videotaped lessons while the other half covers follow-up work without the tapes, developing the situations and linguistic challenges presented on tape. Since the Hebrew courses I have run have never been programmed beyond 50 hours, which is not long enough to view all the tapes and assure sufficient practice between tapes, I have never viewed the video tapes after Lesson 26. Lesson 26 is the 26th half-hour cassette; therefore, I have covered 13 hours of course material in Hebrew. I mention all this in part for those readers who may wish to work out “educational” statistics but in particular to emphasize that I, the teacher, am a beginning learner of Hebrew by all conventional yardsticks — material covered, vocabulary, time spent studying the language. And yet, by accident, the most recent segment of our Hebrew

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course gave me a chance to measure my own progress in Hebrew: I taught the last 10-hour intensive course without the video tapes. When I arrived to begin the course on the Friday evening, I discovered that the video tape apparatus had been sent out for repairs and would not be available during the weekend. As one of the participants had to come a considerable distance to attend the course, I did not feel I could simply cancel it when they arrived. Instead, I explained the problem and suggested that we work without the video tapes until we had reached the limits of my own Hebrew. They agreed. Having taken 20 to 30 hours of Hebrew with the tapes, everyone had seen Lessons 1-15 at least once. Some of the cassettes had been viewed twice. All the participants had covered the sounds of Hebrew, using the rectangle Fidel, the block-letter Fidel, and the script Fidel. They had worked with Hebrew numeration and used it for simple arithmetic and asking and telling time. They had encountered the rods, the definite article, the lack of an indefinite article, demonstrative masculine pronouns, the absence of the verb “to be” in the present tense, and the conjunction “ ” (and). They had also been introduced to (take and give with the component of gender) and (personal objective pronouns) at the very end of the previous course — 20 minutes’ work. My intention had been to begin the course by showing Lesson 13 a second time to give everyone a chance to reuse Hebrew numbers and to work with equivalent time expressions again. Then I wanted to jump to Lesson 16 and go on with work on the rods. But I did not have the television. In addition, two of the participants were anxious about the colors and wanted to start all over again, saying they had forgotten everything in the month and a half that had elapsed since the previous course. I knew they could not have forgotten because of the way they had worked, but I also knew they would not believe me so I asked them to read what I pointed to on the script Fidel. We covered all the sounds in about two minutes (initial work on the sounds with the tapes takes 3 hours). They had forgotten none though they initially confused the green and blue vowel sounds (too and bed) and four signs whose script shapes are either identical or very similar. They were quickly set

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4 A Report On A Video Course

straight by another participant or by my showing with the pointer that the possibility of confusion exists. They corrected themselves immediately. During this opening session I said nothing but realized that I had become capable of pointing out long, Hebrew utterances on the Fidel without difficulty. The sentences simply flowed from me. At the same time I could be aware of problems of pronunciation, stress, and rhythm and know when the participants had to change their utterances. I also knew exactly where my own criteria were still uncertain, be it in pronunciation, sentence structure, or spelling. Moreover, I was aware that I had acquired a feel for Hebrew and was willing to innovate, knowing full well that I might make a certain number of grammatical errors but that they were relatively unimportant when compared to the fact of the utterance and its flow. To make this distinction clear, we can take the act of writing as a functioning as opposed to the application of sets of rules and standards. To know that one can put on paper what one can say does not require concentration on conventional grammar, sentence structure, and spelling. The two areas can be separated, and the awareness of writing as a functioning can be stressed. The same is true in language learning if we are asking students to express themselves as best they can under the circumstances and given their criteria at that point in time. For example, the students were aware of the frequent transformations in the number 2 in Hebrew, depending on its function in a sentence (English speakers may have noticed a similar phenomenon with the pronunciation of 2 in two, twelve, twenty, and twice). The participants and I had also learned how to form sentences corresponding to “this rod is red, and these two are blue.” Now they wanted to say “these two rods are black” and “take these two black rods” which we had not studied on the video tapes. Having warned them of the provisional nature of the solution I was going to propose, I taught them Hebrew sentences such as

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I still do not know whether these variations are correct, but the point I want to make is that while Hebrew speakers would consider such difficulties small or inexistent, the fact that nonnative speakers are willing to experiment with them, given their very limited knowledge of the language, demonstrates the growth of autonomy and a developing feel for the components of the language, acquired without the intervention of a native speaker. The first five hours of the course were spent working in this manner, practicing elements of Hebrew we had already met or trying out new combinations of the same elements. When students’ statements were long, I was aware of the concentration demanded of me to be with — to listen to — the parallel components of the utterance: meaning, syntax, pronunciation, rhythm. Sometimes, being too engrossed in one component, I would let something slip by. But, as the other students were also attentive, they would point out what I had missed and correct the speaker. The fact that I was only slightly more advanced than they in Hebrew did nothing to dampen their enthusiasm. On the contrary, it apparently made them more wary of what was being said and thereby served to sharpen their own criteria. In addition, knowing that I did not know very much Hebrew, I was nevertheless certain of what I did know or where my certainty became fuzzy because I had retained and could recall precise images corresponding to lessons on video tape which included both the language problem being presented and the situation in which it was demonstrated. Thus I was certain of all the components of the problem I discussed in the paragraph above, as well as of how to present them.

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4 A Report On A Video Course

My only risk was putting them all together in a novel pattern. This process recurred throughout the 10-hour course. In a very real sense, I knew that I was ignorant of everything outside m my Hebrew experience and I was at peace with that fact. Yet I was also aware that I had achieved a certain mastery within my experience and was free to use it together with my awareness of how languages work to experiment with the challenges I offered the students. This mixture of ignorance, which I simply accepted, of certitude within a highly restricted universe of language, and of freedom, which they fostered in me, liberated me to be with the students in a way I have only rarely felt in English — my native language. I was aware of being totally disengaged emotionally when students made mistakes; I experienced none of the involvement I sometimes feel when working in English. I was in no hurry to get on to a more complicated structure, when I knew of one, but quite content to vary the challenge within the language they had at that time. Only now, as I am writing this, have I realized that what I was experiencing was the “ease” of teaching a language other than one’s own and the involvement of being with other students who are just about as good or bad as you are and who are engaged in the same challenge. These characteristics — mutual unemotional involvement, willingness to get on with the job and to experiment, attentiveness to mistakes that demonstrate personal growth rather than judgment, and the absence of a desire to be perfect — carried over into the exercises we did in writing and reading. Participants demonstrated their growth in Hebrew by the length of their sentences and the speed with which they wrote them. I was aware that several had not paid sufficient attention to important details like the tail on the “ ” to distinguish it from the “ ” or the length of the “ ” as opposed to the “ ” or the “ .” One of the students had noticed the same problem and pointed it out to the other participants. I also noticed that I was capable of reading the sentences as students wrote them on the board or of guessing what words had to come next in a given sentence. This indicated to me that for the vocabulary we were using, decoding had become more or less automatic regardless of the handwriting. I checked this by reading jumbled sentences which prevented me from using the initial

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expressions to guess the rest. I tried the exercise with the participants and they showed they could do it as well although some had more trouble than others. Finally, I gave the students a spontaneous dictation. The utterances came easily and normally sounded right to me. When they did not, I knew it and simply modified the utterance to satisfy myself. After the dictation the students wrote the sentences on the board and corrected each other’s spelling. Whenever they were in doubt, they either found it on the word charts or asked me to point it out on the Fidel. The next morning we met for the second 5-hour session of the course. I felt no anxiety about being able to challenge the participants even though what I was intending to introduce — “put,” “here,” and “there” — I had not worked on since April 1978, the last time I viewed Lessons 17-26. As we began working, those students who spotted the meaning immediately, began offering more and more complex statements, bringing in language from the earlier lessons. At one point, someone needed the Hebrew word for “other,” which I do not know or cannot recall. But the situation triggered in me the word, “ ” (too) so we worked on sentences and situations to make its meaning clear. While introducing the new word, I realized that I was unsure of where to place it a sentence. The only way to make a decision was to try out variations in my mind and then choose the one that sounded most Hebrew. I discovered that for a given sentence only one variation met this criteria so I continued using it. For example

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4 A Report On A Video Course

Of all these possibilities, the first sounds most Hebrew to me. I know it is not a transference from English because it would be incorrect to put either “too” or “also” in the position occupied by “ ” Until I can verify my hypothesis, I will accept Hebrewness of my solution. If I am wrong, it will indicate where I have work to do; if I am right, I will know that on that particular point my criteria are adequate. Another area of work gave me the chance to reach the limits of my certainty and to observe myself trying to decide what I was correct: Hebrew numeration and telling time. I know the masculine and feminine forms of the numbers which have them and I know which numbers do not, but as we began working on the problem of telling time, I realized that I was not sure which form ac -companied the word for “minutes ( ). The feminine form sounded best in most cases and the word itself sounded feminine because of the ending, but when I tried using the feminine numbers between 11 and 19. I felt definitely uncertain. None of the participants was able to say so we decided to put off the work on telling time until we could use the tapes again. In the last hour of the course, I introduced the personal subject pro nouns using our names. Unlike the fuzziness I had experienced with the numbers, I felt completely at home with the pronouns as did two of the participants. The other three, however, were lost and panicked at the sudden abundance of new words, which with the exception of

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“ ” (I) changed whenever they addressed someone different or referred to someone else. I was aware that what was evident to me and to the two participants, because we let it be evident, was not at all obvious to the other three because they allowed themselves to concentrate on the “newness” of the words rather than on the “commonness” of the situation. Since we had so little time 1 left, I contented myself with varying the challenge as much as possible, trusting that the answer would dawn on them during the 4-week interval between courses. Trying to draw conclusions from these experiences as well as from those I have forgotten or felt and cannot put into words, promises to be hazardous. I do not want to exaggerate; neither do I want to slight the pedagogical lessons of this weekend in Hebrew for myself or for others. I will try to restrict myself to what is certain. While I am a beginner in Hebrew, I am not a beginner as a learner or as a teacher with The Silent Way. By this I only mean that I have come to understand language and language learning through The Silent Way and I know how to use that fact to work with the video tapes in a relaxed manner. In practice, whenever I watch a tape, I get as much language out of it as I can without worrying about getting more or wishing things were presented in a different way. Then the next time I see the same cassette, I see different things so I get different things and so on, regardless of the number of times I view any given tape from the series. Knowing how to work like this is obviously accessible to anyone as the five participants demonstrate at different times and to varying extents during the video Hebrew courses. It need not depend on one’s past experience with The Silent Way; they have very little. It does, however, demand that one realize that it is the way to work and keep that awareness present while viewing the video tapes. I have learned all the Hebrew I know from working with the video series, Hebrew The Silent Way, and without the intervention of a native speaker. Whether the “quantity” of Hebrew I have acquired given the time invested would be satisfactory to an outsider I cannot say. But I 30


4 A Report On A Video Course

can say that I am satisfied, having also studied Chinese, German, and Spanish for similar lengths of time with teachers and The Silent Way. My pronunciation is good though I have had only two occasions to hear native Hebrew. I can make that judgment because I know it is better than the pronunciation of most of the students on the video tapes and also because two very advanced learners (one with 30 years’ experience and the other with 15) have told me so. I should add that the latter also told me that my accent was a bit too Arabic, a reproach which I can willingly live with for the moment. My knowledge of structures and grammar is limited to what is presented in Lessons 1-26 or Hebrew The Silent Way, but my command of that language is advanced. Utterances come easily and are correct in general. Within the language I know, I can say whatever I want to say, which means that I function in Hebrew just as I do in all the other languages I speak. I also often know when an utterance is incorrect and how to correct it. If I do not know how, at least I know where I have to work in order to learn. I can write whatever I can say with a minimum of spelling mistakes because I have worked with the Fidels and the Word Charts and have become sensitive to a certain number of spelling consistencies in Hebrew. I can read what others have written and understand it if it concerns the language I know. In addition, I know how to attack words and sentences outside my experience, but I cannot be sure of using the right vowel sounds. This problem stems from the absence of most vowel signs in written Hebrew (I knowingly exclude the necudot, which I have not yet learned). Finally, I have gained a feel for how things change in Hebrew — the compression of vowel sounds in the masculine plural is an example. This feeling for the language as a whole has permitted me to do what this article concerns: teach a 10-hour intensive Hebrew course on my own. If nothing else, it proves the independence and autonomy I have acquired the Hebrew by working with Hebrew The Silent Way. In terms of what a learner can expect to achieve when he embarks on learning either English or Hebrew with the video language courses, the last remark is the most far-reaching. Perhaps one day, educators and program administrators will recognize the importance of this fact and

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understand the progress achieved in language learning and teaching by Hebrew, The Silent Way and English The Silent Way. Allen Rozelle Geneva C.H.

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News Items

1 Two out of town Silent Way workshops, one in Los Angeles and one in Detroit, each of 20 hours gave Dr. Gattegno chances to do some research on language teaching helped by the participants. One feature common to both was that the language experience offered the participants was Greek. In Los Angeles one participant was a native Greek and another fluent in that language. In Detroit one participant had recently been on a Greek island and still had in him the sounds made by its inhabitants. Once again the effortlessness of learning with the sound/color chart was proven at the same time as a very good pronunciation was achieved by those who were involved, as witnessed and acknowledged by the participants who had a native experience of Greek. It still seems strange to teachers of language that without hearing any model of the sounds of a language participants manage to produce sounds that are very close to the native’s. Of course those who utter them do not know that and are as puzzled as the natives of the quality of what they produce spontaneously so soon after starting a new language. Therefore a part of the seminar is spent making everyone see why it works that way and would work that way if our thinking agrees with the laws of learning. Every time such an opportunity for study is offered deeper insights result. These affect directly the state of The Silent Way as an evolving field of study. This time it became clear that we can use the first exercises with the sound/color Fidel to work out a number of

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Teaching The Deaf

statements that seem desirable beyond the practice of statements covering the energy distributions of the new language. These remain very important and are the main purpose of the exercises. Until now, once it was obvious that the students were able to produce the right sounds, the proper stresses, the phrasing and the melody of the new language, the shift to numeration seemed recommended. Indeed the desire for meaning — not accessible till then — could be met by introducing students to the language of numbers and operations on them and it was easy to yield to that course with advantages to all. This advantage was increased when students used their newly acquired skills to give themselves examples to work on as long as they wished and felt the need for. A good morale results when one discovers being able so early in one’s study to be as good as natives in those matters. Now we can add an intermediary lesson before we move to numeration. Although it is not strictly necessary, we can select for that exercise greetings, formulae of thanks and good wishes, of politeness and so on, so that students say them to each other, hear them said and on some occasions engage in conversation about them. For example introduce themselves to each other and respond with ceremonial formulae such as: “How do you do” or “Encantado” or “Lieto” etc. Since the whole of the language can be triggered with the pointer on the colored rectangles it may be good to know when is the opportunity to give students with ease an entry into the social etiquette which normally is postponed in the stricter interpretation of the hierarchy of linguistic needs of newcomers to a language. It still remains true that to function in this language is the essential slant in the first hours of teaching and of exposure. Now, we can spend a little time to give social beings tools for entering and leaving native assemblies in which they find themselves, as practice in the sounding and modulating of their flow of words. Sometimes these formulae may even look like quality examples for the purpose in mind. As more and more people experience the scientific foundations of The Silent Way they determine by themselves what can be taken in one’s stride without jeopardizing the rigorous services students can expect from it.

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News Items

2 The TESOL “81 Conference in Detroit. The setting, in the Detroit Plaza Hotel, by itself would justify the journey. A remarkable piece of monumental architecture offering any number of landscapes in concrete, all attractive with vistas where proportions, shapes, designs blended harmoniously in all cases. Modern in the sense of comfort, of ease of movement for large crowds, of the lushness of plants, of water in fountains, it also evokes nostalgia through the names of the public rooms. The Detroit river runs majestically along its eastern side and from the guest rooms the bridge to Canada offers another escape into wider spaces and dreams. In that setting thousands of people gathered for a few days of work, of conversation, of exposure and of friendship. Possibly the latter was the most felt impact for the greetings were warm and the encounters full of smiles and welcomes. Too many sessions scheduled at the same time, create a feeling of what one misses rather than of the vastness of the addition to one’s knowledge of the field clearly fragmented beyond recognition. To please so many contributors — all believed to be equally worthy — results in a dust of presentations which hide the forest by stressing the trees. The exhibition hall adds to the impact that it must be difficult to reach an overall impression that there is one reality called the teaching of English to speakers of other languages. Is it possible to progress in the whole when everyone pushes a little here or there? Maybe an 8,000 strong association can only manifest itself in this way. Still one could feel that leaders are sought, prayed for, so that the dust storm be replaced by a wide and powerful river flowing towards a goal in which everyone’s work is integrated. 3 The weekend of April 3-5 in Paris, Dr. Gattegno had a seminar run in French on “The writer in every one of us.” Forty-five participants knowledgeable in French — but only half of them nationals — came not knowing what to expect but ready to find out how in 20 hours one could discover the writer in oneself. People came from England, Switzerland, and distant cities in France (Marseille, Besançon, Lyon) at great cost to themselves but thinking it might well be worth their while.

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This was confirmed at the final feedback session by everyone for, this time, all spoke at the end. After two minutes of introduction, Dr. Gattegno put everyone to write him a letter in which they spelled out what they thought were the obstacles in their way of writing. Half an hour later instead of looking at the results which were not collected, nor allowed to be seen by the other participants, Dr. Gattegno gave another writing assignment. This was presented to the group like this: “Let us write whatever we want, one sentence or several pages, to reveal to us what is meant by ‘vividness’ in writing.” Since the French word was not immediately conducive of meaning a few words of explanation were needed. A few minutes later the participants who were ready read their contributions. A sufficient number were offered to let all know that it was possible to reach a clear meaning of what can be called vivid writing without resorting to a verbal definition. This empirical way of working, without model nor direction, suited the French as much as the Anglo-Saxons for whom a priori it would make sense. Thus it became the way of working of the seminar: after each exercise, reading by the participants willing to expose themselves produced the stuff for further questioning such as: “What can we learn from this?” or “Did what you heard tell you something about yourself? about us as a group? about writing? about topics? about language? about language and life? language and aesthetics?” etc. After the dinner break work resumed with the following exercise: “Look at one of your thumbnails and write about it.” After fifteen minutes, people were asked to volunteer to read their work. Perhaps half the group did so and it was obvious then that most of what had been read was remarkable from a number of viewpoints. Most were witty, crisp, condensed, full of images, of feelings, evocative of some striking resemblance with what the writer saw but in no way was commonplace when related to a thumbnail. This exercise did a lot for everyone and for the group as a whole, suddenly aware that so much talent was available there. The group had not been made acquainted with one another as is the case generally, in order first to

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News Items

keep anonymity till the proper moment and second to save time in this intensive though short course concerned with a large task. From then on it was clear that the work was bringing fruit and that the atmosphere could only be more and more conducive of free contributions which happened to be of quality. To make the group aware that there are topics one must avoid until one is a skilled writer, Dr. Gattegno put as the last assignment on the Friday evening: “Write about the silence in this room as people get busy writing on silence.” The seminar room was on a busy Paris avenue where traffic was heavy. The subway runs under the building. A lot of noise prevented anyone to feel the silence and therefore the pieces of writing were all about actual noise and inferred silence. In fact, it was an exercise which had its uses for, while no one heard any noise when writing on the thumbnail and there was intellectual silence within permitting everyone to concentrate on the subject, now that silence was the subject it eluded everyone and they all had to write of “anti-silence.” All of them knew that there were subjects which do not inspire a flow of words in certain circumstances. A second pair of concrete — abstract subjects followed in the next two exercises. Dr. Gattegno asked each student to fold a sheet of paper and write on one page about love and on the other page a love story, but he did not tell them why he was giving these assignments. Most people chose to embark first upon an essay on love and found it almost impossible to write afterwards a love story. Those who wrote first a love story produced generally a sad one as if love was conceived in this group as disillusionment in fact while in theory it is all glamour and dynamic. This second attempt at forcing awareness that writing is easier and so much more vivid if the writer is concerned with tangible (though imaginary) topics than when the concern is abstractions, did not lead openly to its formulation as a fact of writing. Following this the assignment given was: “Here is a statement or part of a statement, write a story around these words.” The words given in French were equivalent to: “They went along well together.”

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The variety of treatments, the contexts, the lightness and wit displayed can only be called fantastic. Vividness was reillustrated by almost every one of those short diverse, crisp paragraphs or sets of paragraphs. Everyone was delighted by one’s imagination and expression and all for being in such a fun place instead of a seminar on writing that could have been so boring and didactic. In fact the exercise that followed was a flop for it asked people to work on a long sentence and reduce the number of words but keep the meaning. The aim was to reach a feel of what is a statement that is to the point, is clear, economical of words and not misleading, doing best the job of conveying a meaning. The one selected did not inspire and was quickly forgotten, although about one hour was spent on it. When asked again to concentrate just on writing a love story, the group first protested but just the same complied. The results were very rewarding and many very lovely pieces were produced. By now the high morale allowed the seminar to be daring and on Sunday morning first all wrote a passage on “a baby biting on a cockroach” which appeared capable of inspiring fireworks of writings. Then a poem was asked for on “a needle of a sewing machine” to show that any topic could be made into a poetic subject. Indeed the participants delighted in this incongruous choice and wrote poems anyone would love to keep in an anthology, again because of the span of the imagination, the quality of the images and the languages selected. Then came the challenge of writing in order to generate laughter which only a few found easy until they were told of Bergson’s observation that laughter is created when the mechanical is put where what is expected is liveliness. Then more funny stories were produced, some people finding means of generating up to five one after another. The last exercise was “a portrait” or how to find words to bring to life a person so that it is felt as real, present and capable of holding a reader’s attention. Here too lovely pieces were produced mostly by impressionistic means, brush strokes contrasting with each other to produce a certain effect.

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News Items

The afternoon of Sunday was not devoted to writing. Many of the participants had felt that a study of “presence� would help them. So, two hours were devoted to that, shifting from exercises on pinpointed matters to an examination of a large issue. Of course, in two hours only a few aspects could be considered but those that were, seemed to meet the most urgent needs of the participants who insisted on that shift. As usual the final feedback served to tell what had happened to the participants. On that occasion they revealed their identities and their reasons for joining the seminar. All felt certain they could write if they chose to or could become writers if they practiced writing. 4 GEMS (General Educational Materials and Seminars Inc.) of Montreal acting as literary agent for Dr. Gattegno secured his services for appearances during February, March and April. In February at the Annual Conference of Teachers of Calgary (Alberta Canada) Dr. Gattegno was asked to give a one-day session on his work in education in a changing world. He chose to spend the morning on showing that learning to read and to spell can be made much more effective if seen as education of awareness, while in the afternoon he showed how awareness of relationships and their dynamics yield mathematics. Also in February, one day in Los Angeles and one in San Francisco, at two conferences showing Master Teachers concerned with the education of learning disabled, Dr. Gattegno expounded before 300+ teachers and administrators, that his mastery as a teacher results above all from his preoccupation with human learning and with awareness. In March, at the annual meeting of the Quebec Association for Learning Disabled in Montreal, Dr. Gattegno met with large groups of participants in two sessions on New Techniques. Using the opportunity that these two double sessions were to be held separately for French speaking and English speaking participants (two hundred people each time) Dr. Gattegno gave four very different workshops permitting him to show a good number of the solutions that permit to subordinate teaching to learning. Although these techniques appeared as new to 39


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most of the participants not yet informed of their existence, they also appeared as meeting many of the problems that brought three thousand delegates to that very well run and fruitful conference. GEMS also invited Dr. Gattegno to be one of their speakers on “The Changing School in a Changing World” a two-day conference in St. Hubert (Quebec Province) organized for the 400 teachers of CETA (Chambly English Teacher’s Association). It was the first annual conference and was considered a trial both for the CETA leaders and for GEMS. It can be assessed as having been very successful. The format included three general talks: one on each morning at 9:00 a.m. and one to close the conference. The speakers for these were figures in the limelight known to be capable of inspiring even burnt-out teachers. Between these talks, there were seminars or workshops on specific problems which preoccupy teachers: drug abuse, discipline, work with students with learning problems and innovative approaches to school subjects and activities. GEMS secured the services of investigators of great reputation who are known to be able to help teachers in those areas of concern and therefore GEMS shows that it is possible to give teachers what they need while contributing to their growth and competence. For a professional, smooth, exciting educational conference with tangible results, GEMS seems to know where to go and how to put it all together even if the attendance is in the thousands, Ed Polak the President of GEMS makes it all happen as if it were child’s play. His appearance on the scene of educational interchange has certainly made a difference.

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Important Note!

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

www.EducationalSolutions.com

Teaching The Deaf  

Newsletter vol. X no. 4 April 1981

Teaching The Deaf  

Newsletter vol. X no. 4 April 1981

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