Page 1

The Computer And The Mind

Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc.

Caleb Gattegno

Newsletter

vol. XI no. 1

September 1981


First published in 1981. Reprinted in 2009. Copyright Š 1981-2009 Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc. Author: Caleb Gattegno All rights reserved ISBN 978-0-87825-306-7 Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc. 2nd Floor 99 University Place, New York, N.Y. 10003-4555 www.EducationalSolutions.com


John Von Neumann in his Yale lectures on “The Brain and the Computer” (published posthumously in 1957) stated that as we improved our understanding of the one we shall increase that of the other. It seemed plausible then. Twenty-five years later it is not yet clear how we have fared with either improving our understanding or finding a link between the two. Perhaps the question should have been not about the brain as the counterpart of the computer, but about the mind. In this Newsletter we hope to have made a case for the validity of this substitution. A priori, it is clear that while the mind can know its elf and can know other things, among them the brain and the computer, neither the brain nor the computer are equipped to know themselves. Hence, it seems an improvement in the way we relate to the computers, to consider that we shall know something about our mind which we did not know before we worked on and with the computer. Moreover, we may learn a lot more about the computer as well as about the mind, and may create a link between the two, provided we saw the computer as the objectification of some of the workings of the mind — the specific ones which a dialogue within the mind will bring forth. Essentially, the dialogue is between the mind and its creations, and it takes place in the mind which is capable of knowing itself and its creations. Our brain is seen as a creation, but not of our mind; the computer is also seen as a creation but most often, as the creation of someone else’s mind. This introduces some new items generating greater difficulties related to this problem. We hope to have surmounted some of them by the end of the articles included here. News items, as usual, close this issue, the first of Volume XI.


Table of Contents

1 The Dilemma: Mind-Brain................................................. 1 2 Languages And The Computer .......................................... 9 3 Beyond Programming ......................................................17 4 Educational Consequences, Examples............................. 25 News Items ......................................................................... 35 1 The National Science Project......................................................... 35 2 On The Silent Way Horizon .......................................................... 37


1 The Dilemma: Mind-Brain

It takes some doing to acquire the discipline of seeing everything as having been produced before it could be there. This is true of the sentence I have just written. As I write, I enhance and mobilize some of my energy e.g. thinking, concentration, and some of my somatic energy (required for writing). By working on and with what I have, I give it a form which I — and others — can see as separate from me. Once our sight is disciplined we see that creation takes place all the time. Indirectly, this lost awareness has already been at work in all religions which have needed a Creator so that the world can be. Since that awareness was only lost, it only needed to be recaptured. The fleeting nature of speech takes away the ease of catching ourselves as the source of our own utterances that serve as vehicles for our thoughts or for the expression of our feelings. A moment of reflection will suffice to bring us back to the realization that we utter our own words — even if we do not know how we manage this — so as to serve us as the vehicle for our expressions. In our research we have all along used a specific technique of study, and have found that it yields valuable and considerable crops. We transfer to the issue being studied that which we find active in other situations. If we see, for example, the mind as the inventor of all the items that get patented as genuine new inventions by the government’s Patent Offices, we can ask: “Was the mind doing similar things before inventions took place?” that is, earlier, both in the social setting and in the case of individuals?

1


The Computer And The Mind

Socially, when there was no awareness of intellectual property, all inventors’ names were lost and people got used to seeing things appear and be integrated in the world around — anonymously brought into being. Soon (i.e. after generations) they no longer knew that the content of their environment had been generated at some point, and they took it for granted, and even conceived of it as if it had been there forever. It takes some imagination today to conceive the western world without airplanes, TV, the telephone, bathrooms, automobiles, etc. Still some of us were around when some of these objects first made their appearance on the social scene. In terms of the individual, a similar phenomenon can be pointed at. We cannot easily imagine the times when we did not speak, nor stand up or see. Still we have evidence from others, that we must have taken time to learn to see, to stand up and to speak. All these are creations, and are possible for most of us. These ways of our functioning were not there for a while and came to be, and went on being, from a certain moment on until death. This is of course true of our body, made in our mother’s womb. At one time it was not there and then it was. Likewise for the brain which began to form at the embryonic stage a few weeks after the first cell was formed by the merging of two gametes. In the West two traditions have been competing for a long time: the Greek offered us a three-term description of our human condition called soma, psyche, nous; the Romans used two terms we call: body and mind. The most prevalent tradition is the latter. It influences our thinking in specific ways, generating problems where there could be none. A great deal of our confusion in considering our development can be traced to the fact that we selected the Roman model. Perhaps the Greek model would have served us much better even though still insufficient to account for all we are finding in our search for the truth in the field. Since thousands of investigators have added a great deal that neither the Greeks nor the Romans had access to, we are compelled to look for models that would allow us to face our challenges better. The challenge of the pair “mind-brain” may benefit greatly from examining other models.

2


1 The Dilemma: Mind-Brain

As energy is being objectified in our soma during the embryonic and the fetal stages, we can see that we have three ways of looking at the phenomena of embryonic development under the light of later living: 1

We can see the body as produced by biological forces directed by chemicals found in the DNA and transmitted from generation to generation. There is no need for any other entity to be called in, since the description from outside stops at the outline, in as much detail as possible of what can be seen and, at explaining what happens in terms of cause and effect. This is a way of looking which does not ask questions such as: “How will the thinking of a person who is now looking at the tissues or putting all these things together, emerge from chemical reactions?” Because these questions are not asked, it is assumed they do not exist. There is, hence, no mind-brain problem because there is no need in the investigator to stop and ask questions or make statements which are not clearly made by the tissues themselves. However, there is a statement which such investigators make: “the brain excretes the mind.” According to such investigators, the mind is given functions — called mental functions, which are the byproduct of the brain’s physiological functioning. One of the functions of the mind is the creation of consciousness, which, therefore is understood to be an attribute of the brain.

2 There are biological phenomena governed by biological laws in which the DNA plays a director’s role, but at a certain moment “a soul” descends into the physicochemical body and animates it to make it exemplify human behaviors as seen and studied from the outside. Whether the soul enters the brain to produce mental processes and enters other organs to produce sensitivities and feelings, is left unsaid. When does this happen? is also not said. The functionings of the soul are more visible to those who share this view, than are the neurological processes which, in order to be reached, need techniques of a sophisticated kind — histology, microscopy (optical and electronic) etc. Hence the supremacy of the soul upon the body. Although many questions remain untouched in this connection of the soul and the body, at least, in the dualism created, a number of challenges presented by human behaviors can be tackled as belonging 3


The Computer And The Mind

to the realm of the soul and not of the body. Thinking, and particularly creative thinking, is one example easily found. Love and compassion; projects and adventures, are more easily considered by spiritualists than by materialists who in general simply ignore them. If the mind is defined as that part of the soul which remains in contact with the body, one can see the mind as capable of using the preexisting brain for mental processes — like sensations, perceptions, actions and thoughts — and the supremacy is reversed: the brain as a part of the body is an executant rather than an executive. This latter role is left to the mind. The hypothesis that the soul is at the center, has not been a compelling one for all the investigators, or for all the centuries of thinking. Nor has it succeeded in bringing us really any closer to knowing the human condition much better. If it is a fact that the mind is an entity which essentially differs from the brain, and if the body is found to be sometimes obeying the mind and sometimes ignoring it, then we are forced to look for alternatives other than the #1 and #2 mentioned above. Since materialism is still simpler than spiritualism, it has to be considered as inadequate for our enlightenment and we are left with the need to look for other ways of resolving the chasm between monism and dualism. The third proposal that follows we believe to be incomparably more reliable because its fertility in this kind of question has been proved. 3 When we catch ourselves listening or looking, we discover an entity in us which we call the “self” that is capable of awareness. Awareness of the presence of our self in our listening is found in the words: “I’m listening…” i.e. I know that I am listening besides the fact that my listening makes me aware of what I am hearing and of all that goes with my understanding of that. For example, I know that I am producing the words on this page; that I make them fall in certain places in the subtle framework of the structure of the English sentence; that I am forming the sentences to convey the still subtler thought which directs my selection of words and

4


1 The Dilemma: Mind-Brain

phrases; that this is related to the still subtler aim of reaching unknown readers. So, my self, capable of awareness, capable of directing, of sensing, of executing, of discriminating, of retaining, of organizing and of transcending, is also capable of being aware of itself and of a number of other activities which form the numerous studies of humanity in all its forms since the remotest times. The same self was engaged for the first nine months of my life in the activities which led to a functioning soma, known intimately from within, which obeys the orders of my will and is integrated into a harmoniously working whole. For that to happen it requires that my self be all the time at the peak, at the helm of the complex that is studied by biologists as the soma, by the psychologists as the psyche and by the self itself, as the person that existentially is. When the self works as biologist, not only does it find anatomy, physiology and the other biological sciences, but essentially discovers how it keeps itself at the top of the hierarchical construction of the soma reflected in the evolution of the brain, in and ex-utero. This, biologists have named, the law of “integration and subordination” at work from the start and all the time. This is the functioning self which any one of us encounters in self awareness; this is the one that takes us through our lives and all the various activities they demand. The self that made its somatic form, dwells in it as if it had been in it from the start and all the time, and only puts the question: “When did I get into it?” when it is alienated and fragmented. The soma is the objectified self. It results from the self’s energy using some of the energy in the cosmos — appearing as numerous energies — to manufacture in-utero, the molecules which form the cells and the tissues or that become organs when the dwelling self maintains in them some functions characteristic of each. It is this aspect of the self that forms the psyche. Hence, the psyche is also the objectified self. The self dwells in it and does not sense its dwelling place as separate from itself except when alienated, i.e. when the psyche negates the self and pressures one into becoming other than oneself. When the psyche knows itself as the energy that has been objectified by the self from the

5


The Computer And The Mind

start in the evolving soma, it also knows itself as growing or as the guardian of all the automatisms which free the self for the urgent tasks of being in the here-and-now, and of meeting with the descending future and its demands as the unknown. In particular, in its dwelling in the brain — the integrator of all the nervous system — the self knows itself as mind. It is, therefore, the mind that tells the brain what to do with the energies the self summons in the soma by working through the psyche’s masteries of somatic functionings. But the self also summons energies from outside the soma by letting outside impacts affect the brain and be processed by the mind. For example, a mathematician’s mind can connect the dynamic of mathematics to images, signs and symbols so that some mathematical activity or mental actions take place that can generate something new in that field. The mind teaches the brain to recognize, to symbolize, to relate, to transcend and many other complex behaviors of the self, using the soma as well as more subtle energy transactions found in the human world. Until we see ourselves beyond the sheer dynamics of the energy described as physicochemical by biologists — because they use specialized probes to reach it — until we realize ourselves as energy available to the self in the world, we cannot hope to be true to the challenge of the mind-brain problem. We must acknowledge that it is our mind that is asking the questions and the mind that attempts to answer them. The brain can be seen as that objectified part of the self which is akin to the mind when it is the dynamics of energy in the brain that are manipulated. The structure given to the brain is in order to permit its functionings. As tissue, it is taken care of — like all other tissues — by the psyche. But as the psyche specializes the use of the vegetative brain system to take care of survival in a changing environment and makes the system automatic in order to be free to meet aggressions at the somatic level (threats, poisonings, colds or extreme heat etc.), it also specializes as mind when it dwells in the hemispheres to concern itself with perceptions, actions, emotions, feelings, thoughts etc. The mind has as its main job to teach the brain. But the mind must be educated and this means it must learn to find what the self can do when it remains in contact with its energy as it is expressed in the dynamics of perception, action, feeling and thinking. Because of the presence of the self in the mind, the mind benefits from the self’s awarenesses which bring to it the keys to certain mental behaviors. Thus awarenesses make mental behaviors know themselves and make them capable of evolving. One of 6


1 The Dilemma: Mind-Brain

these awarenesses is that the self, at work in the mind, is seen as the reflecting self. It is this that often generates changes in the mind (or changes of mind). The mind, as psyche, can pursue mental courses taking its energy in the reserves of the psyche. But the mind, as self, takes its flights and ventures in the unknown while remaining in contact with that which exists already. It also, occasionally, does so outside of its contact with the known. It is then that we have mental creations that transcend the known. We witness such rare creativity in the arts; (literature, poetry, music, architecture ) as well as in the models of science. The self as nous is still something else. Being the realm of the self per se, of energy knowing itself outside all objectivations, all dynamics, it is not recognized by our senses. Awareness is still possible and is known directly without the intermediary of the soma or the mind. This subtle way of being generates the spiritual universe compatible with the physical and mental universes already explored, but it is distinct from them all, and is lived only by one who knows how to remain in contact with “nothings.” And this, consciously, deliberately. Religions have helped a very small fraction of mankind to create that universe for themselves, and to dwell in it. Those who knew how to do that became spiritual leaders and guides of mankind towards its humanity. The extremely small number of such human beings use spiritual levers to bring our self to the awareness of itself beyond that of the soma and that of the mind or of both. A human universe in its totality becomes available to those who consciously acknowledge being energy in contact with energy whether in somatical amounts (i.e. as matter), or in mental amounts (i.e. as abstractions and concepts), or in spiritual amounts (i.e. as “nothings”). *** Of course, an awareness which enables us to give energy a central place and makes us produce a model of the universe in which dialogues of energy with itself — as manifested in its numerous objectifications — is, by definition, revisable through another awareness. The model is revisable, but only revised when such an awareness presents itself. A world of “nothings” has still to become one where we can dwell and see

7


The Computer And The Mind

what it is, more and more exactly. Too recent to have been contemplated sufficiently, it gains significance from its presence in the minds of people, in languages and computers. Since more and more people are involved in understanding those aspects of our universe, the emerging awareness will force a consideration of that which constitutes the proper instruments of study and of an advance in knowing — empirically and experientially — who we are and where we are.

8


2 Languages And The Computer

Since man has overcome the obstacles on the way to having an oral verbal code perceptible to others, and has organized the code in terms of consistency, it became possible to examine what languages were and what their purpose was. Awareness of consistency is required in order to trust what one utters so as to serve the purpose of reaching others verbally. Hence, awareness of consistency makes consistency an innerlife matter, and it becomes possible to follow its evolution within the individual and, by extension, in the group. Utterances begin within one’s system and only involve one’s functionings which are totally voluntary. The amount of air passing through the throat is controllable, its flow too; the opening of and tensions in the vocal cords also; how the mouth is shaped too. Hence, each sound uttered can be analyzed from within and judged to agree with one’s intention in terms of the energy involved. This component, when it reaches the ear, makes it possible for the ear to become a monitor of the utterances. The ear can be educated to recognize similarity with and variation from that which the self knows, from within, to have put into the utterances. It follows that consistency is reachable at the level where that which is emitted is passed as agreeing with that which was intended. This indicates that one is responsible for the connection. A string of utterances presents a second problem. For this, another process of control is required in order to ensure consistency as well as the agreement with one’s intentions. The energy distribution now is spread over a longer duration, and what has been uttered must be remembered to be connected with that which is being uttered. The self judges what the next expenditure of energy must be so that that which 9


The Computer And The Mind

has left a track in oneself merges with that which is being done at this moment. The self makes sure that the smooth and continuous merging is possible and remains acceptable as being the expression of one’s intentions. (One aspect of that will become one day, the awareness that this language has a grammar.) Thus far we have considered the role of the individual’s mind in the functions of language, and we have found that language has been worked on so as to become a proper tool for expression. If we move on now to the situations in which more than one individual is involved, we meet the problems of communication. When two systems capable of similar functions face one another, that which one of them wills to utter, the other one must retain and interpret with his/her own capabilities. If there were only energy distributions in languages, communication would be a natural sequel of expression, and would rarely fail. But there are other items part of language which are not of that nature. The selection of specific sounds which refer to specific meanings, is arbitrary and needs to be held in one’s memory for the simple reason that it is the only way it can be used by oneself. Sometimes we invent a label for that which we see singled out in our awareness and which we want to put into circulation. In that case, it is the others who have to accept our choice. Generally speaking, there are a number of labels we find already in use in our environment and we must mobilize the necessary energy to hold them in our memory in connection with their meanings which we already hold in us as images or feelings or thoughts — this, not in our memory but rather in our sensibility. Specific amounts of energy are needed to make the retention permanent and the recall smooth. We have named each such amount of energy an “ogden.” We spend ogdens every time we can recall that which is but an arbitrary link, an arbitrary item in some way. Of course, all of us spend thousands of ogdens to acquire a language. In all languages, certain principles of economy are inherent and at work. They reduce the burden on memory as they facilitate recall and associations of items to constitute wholes which trigger complex 10


2 Languages And The Computer

meanings. Grammar is one such principle. It is a larger system of gluing words together so that the chances of confusion and ambiguity of meaning are reduced. Each language represents a large set of awarenesses of many people who have affected it in order to make it capable of expressing complex awarenesses individuals may have, and to make it capable of triggering similar and somewhat like experiences in those who receive the energy put in the air by the utterer or speaker. It follows, that while expression can become a very precise procedure, communication is never certain and it even may be a miracle if it takes place in some cases. One can control that which one puts into circulation. Whether it reaches others is altogether another matter. To increase their chances of succeeding, a speaker and a listener must do certain things. The speaker must make sure that the words he utters do not create in himself any thought or feeling which they would not create if he were to utter them again. The listener must be sure that that which is being heard, is not being interfered with. These constraints may be tall orders for some people, but only they guarantee communication. Spoken languages are very complex because — 1

they deal with precise and objective matters as much as with matters ineffable and strictly subjective;

2 they are historic as well as evolving phenomena in which things happened of which there is no track left in any memory which makes them forever irretrievable; 3 they are consistent but, at the same time, always intermingled with other matters which are individual, random, inaccessible, transient. Their universe seems always to remain beyond the point at which the investigator of languages finds an entry into them. In the case of computers, languages have another meaning. The starting point is within reach and is artificial. Someone decides, for purposes well defined, to use the potentials of a machine to get it to do deliberately things he has in mind. That person, in a dialogue with 11


The Computer And The Mind

himself, establishes a code acceptable to the machine, then proceeds to discover and establish the step by step movements which will take him from that which can be placed as input in the machine, to the output given back by the machine. Here again we find that expression is a responsibility of the individual using the machine. Communication here means bowing to the structures and functions of the machine. The possibility of being interpreted does not exist when relating to the machine. Errors are only caused by the originator of the inputs. The machine is totally intolerant of errors. The inventor of a language for the computer is not asked to be aware of language in general and of what it does to people. He is required, rather, to become aware of what the circuitry of a given computer permits and, to schematize accordingly, parts of his intent which hold enough connections with the whole to make sense of the whole. The extreme form of this connection with the machine is the machine language itself. It permits an arithmetical answer to appear on a calculator which has been given some numbers and operations on them. Knowing the machine language will be the necessary frame of reference for any selection of possible steps. The steps selected must reflect the problem one has in mind. The problem must be totally alien to the machine. The creator of a computer language keeps in mind what a computer can do while he scrutinizes actively the problem that occupies his mind until he sees that links can appear between the dynamics of the problem and the functionings of the machine. Both affect each other, suggesting accommodations and transformations of the links so that both the problem and the machine, do not lose their essence, nor their individuality. When related to the computer, the mind adds a number of components to the machine. This is an indication that bridges have been found, that the problems are the source of the proposals, and, that the machine has been transformed. The language is taking charge of matter and specializing it to serve given purposes. The machine is being programmed. The linguistic component of the mind transforms the potential of a machine by creating a language to serve the “alien� problems one has in mind. At the same time, it is the linguistic component which allows the mind to explore more fully the potential of the machine by

12


2 Languages And The Computer

engaging in proposals which use the potentials and bring them to the fore in the form of specialized programs. When being used for highly specialized programs, computers make their limitations evident more quickly and clearly than do ordinary languages, which have limitations too, though these escape their users. People’s memories are considerable but still most of us don’t manage to give them their full use. Since it is possible to add to the memory capacity of computers, memory is not the problem (though users of these machines exaggerate that component in assessing the limitations of computers). Perhaps, it would be fairer to the potentials of the machines and to the people who use them, if we related to the three items present in the situation. One is the manner in which the machine is transformed by the way it is used. Another is the user’s adherence to the way he wants to use the machine for definite purposes. The third is the capacity of all users put together, to offer a synthesized insight into what we can do with our powers and those of the computer interacting one on the other. In ordinary languages we find these three items at work and not always enhancing each other. Perhaps we could learn at this juncture, from our being forced to consider the matter, whether we understand the problems of computer languages sufficiently, to be fair to the situation, and whether we need to evolve so as to do our job properly. By asking of a computer language that it give beginners entry into programming (such as Basic, Pilot, Logo and others), do we not impose upon the computer the demand that it serve the process of communication before that of expression, and perhaps, exclusively? On the basis of our awareness of what takes place, and how, in the area of ordinary languages, we can propose an alternative way of relating to the computer languages. We know, with the mind actively involved, that a somatic system can produce more than one language with the same somatic structures and functions. Moreover, we know that the self controls the will and makes it possible to switch from one language to the other. The mind also recognizes that languages differ in vocabulary, that they differ in spirit in a still more subtle manner. In the light of this awareness, is it not permissible, even more appropriate for beginners to gain an entry into the reality of the computer by being introduced to the structures and functions of the computer? As their

13


The Computer And The Mind

mind would comprehend and interact with the structures and functions of the computer, they will learn to express themselves in the computer language and, at the same time, would come in contact with the rich potential of the computer. At the peak there is the mind. Its attributes allow it to descend to the brain and to use it to affect the structures and functions so that languages are produced which objectify, through energy and conventions, what the mind knows directly in the subtle substance of its makeup. Other minds are affected by the energy, provided they own the conventions. They may respond if the occasion allows them to, and if they wish to make their response known. Language by itself does not generate responses. In the case of the computer, the mind is in control in two specific ways: one, when translating a project of the mind into a program, and the other, when attempting to involve people in that program. The use of the language comes in, firstly in the form of a computer language which states the program, and secondly, in the form of the vernacular or a code which provides material for learning to respond correctly to very specific challenges put to the mind of the users of the computer. Computer language, thus, does not only operate as ordinary languages do, but also as a means to provide extra power to the mind. Computer language serves as a means of individual expression when used for translating an intended project into a program. It serves as a means of communication when it engages the users of the program in a dialogue with themselves and with the computer. But whether learning to program or learning to respond to the program — the computer language has the potential of bringing new awarenesses in the mind of those involved in it. Thus, in reverse, the computer may serve to force awareness of the attributes of human languages. The computer may serve to teach languages, provided the user of the computer interacts with the program by recognizing that that which is brought to the fore concerns him and his functionings, not his memory only. In fact, the computer’s memory is minimal, compared to that of 14


2 Languages And The Computer

the user, but it can be used in such a way as to focus upon essential mental moves. The computer’s memory, once occupied is, as if it were no longer acting as such, for nothing can be added to it — one can imagine though that more can be done with its content. This, so long as the combinations it permits do not require more computer memory for them to happen. Man’s memory is extensible, but in language learning it rarely acts that way, mainly because of the stress on vocabulary items and their retention. To serve well in the teaching of languages, the computer can be given tasks which force the user to use himself pinpointedly and find something about himself. He can, for example, make sounds in combinations which are new to him; he can distribute his energy on sounds he makes so as to produce stresses at variance with his own language or languages; he can string words in phrases and link phrases with each other and produce a melodic line recognizable because it is objective, and recognizable as his own. In this connection, the interaction with the computer will yield all the phonological secrets of the new language, not as knowledge to be memorized, but as awareness of oneself doing spontaneously what one does well — although it may still be unfamiliar and done for the first time. So, the computer is used here for awareness — for an awareness of human language as a deliberately produced flow of sounds, linked by melody and hence easily retained since it is energy objectified over the flow of time. It can be recreated, rather than remembered. Its reality is evident and is sensed as something one must do with oneself to be like those who use those sounds that way. No need for thinking, no need for deliberate memorization. Still one finds that the interaction has led to clear somatic behaviors willed deliberately and produced precisely the way one wants to produce them. In other words, spontaneously, one appears as having much experience of the new language when one is only related to the energy distribution it has selected for itself. Since it is a separable component — but an all pervasive one — there is no 15


The Computer And The Mind

doubt that these interactions through the computer have the power to yield valuable insights into the new language as a whole. The computer, in this treatment, can generate a variety of responses in the users by simply showing an essential feature of the throat. It has taken upon its elf, through the various programmings, that the computer can produce spoken languages — any spoken one — can analyze them in terms of energy distributions, no longer of words and their associated meanings. Of course, we shall come to words and meanings associated with them. But they represent a much smaller challenge than the one of energy distribution considered above. Since this can be met now through the computer, we have radically altered the problem of language teaching and learning. We have shown that anyone who plays the game suggested by the specific program which translates the awareness of a specific language into a variation on sound production, will find himself uttering the new language as if he were a native. Once the distribution of energy for producing sounds is consciously mastered, the follow-up programs will use this considerable skill and present to students other activities in an hierarchical order. The students will acquire new skills which together provide the power we find in natives who can express themselves verbally. Having given to the computer the hardest job found in language learning and teaching — a job most classroom teachers don’t know how to tackle — we are doing justice to its presence among us, to its role as an enhancer of our mental powers, as the extension of our mind knowing itself. But we can do more and enlist the computer’s powers in sorting out other problems concerning language teaching and learning, provided they are real and can be expressed in terms of awareness of energy and its dynamics. Our reports on our research experiments, we hope, will appear in a future publication.

16


3 Beyond Programming

There are so many people involved in programming that it is expected that computer literacy will soon be generalized. Everybody will know how to program a “personal computer” for one’s own end in one’s home, perhaps before the end of this century. But is there only programming to learn when relating to the computer? Can the computer only be a machine equipped with diskettes or videodisks to display what others have invented for one’s service or one’s entertainment? Or is it possible to reach a deeper understanding of the connections between the mind and the computer and see its proper place in our lives, even this early in its technological evolution? What we are asking is not easy to answer, for the creative mind is unpredictable and as soon as its extensions exist universes open up for their use: printing generated large literatures over the centuries, and television has generated the video world we are witnessing today. Still, while literature is the universe of the word and video of the visual image, can we specify which universe is that of the computer? Certainly not just that of computation! I shall venture to say that it has made us aware of the universe of “nothings” and of our creative powers per se. The computer brings with it the possibility that the mind entertains itself within the constraints due to logic, linearity of time, association with the dynamics of electrons (and of photons when the computer is coupled with a video

17


The Computer And The Mind

monitor) as well as that the mind can escape from each of these constraints once it has grasped how to integrate and transcend them. To know the mind (not yet the self itself) is but one stage of the evolution of human beings taken as a whole. We see the coming into our lives of the “personal computer” as the event which allows the mind to have a dialogue with itself for knowing itself. There will be as many modalities of dialoguing as there will be people sensitized to the opportunity. So, there cannot be any rules about how the computer-in-our-lives will alter our own psychology and the science of psychology. What I say here is how I perceive that. The computer responds immediately to our slightest errors and declares us wrong on insignificant matters, such as forgetting a letter in a word or typing one letter instead of another. This shows it is intolerant of mistakes, and forces us to become tolerant of its demands thus forcing us to be attentive to small as well as large matters. People who program computers must maintain a state of alertness 1) to the steps they are taking all the time while working with the computer, and 2) to the projects they are working on in their dialogue with the machine. The discipline behind the alertness is integrated with other demands which come from the uses of oneself as a logical thinker or an imaginative proposer of activities — which in some way must be equivalent to the challenge contemplated and, for which the help of the computer is enlisted — to create in one the level of awareness that translates itself into fertility, and leads one towards a greater freedom of the mind organically linked with flights of the imagination. When working with the computer, one senses more acutely than when one writes or paints, for instance, that one is alert and present. This is so because while one is actively engaged in one or more dialogues at different levels, it is that which, in turn, gives presence its shades. At once we note that, because of the need for alertness, we are more alert, we stay so for some time and perhaps make alertness an attribute of our self. Alertness is also experienced as “presence,” and we note in our mind several items co-present, co-existent, co-operating and affecting the contents we allow in order to give our time its furnishings. 18


3 Beyond Programming

We notice the dynamics of the mind, the ease of becoming different — because of the impacts of our objectified thoughts and feelings — of our capacity to transform and of being transformed. If it all seems too subtle to have any real affect on our lives, or to be an exaggerated enthusiasm for an imaginary dialogue, it is not less real in the life of this writer. The mind handles only subtleties. The flow of ideas and images triggers the sense of being alive, and the enthusiasm that goes with it. The movement ahead —which is equivalent to letting the future descend in oneself — puts one in contact with the immanent, i.e. with that which is not yet born but is in the process of being born. All being virtual (i.e. in power), in the mind, the contact is with so little energy that the dynamics, the sketched transformations, can be deeply experienced and known to exist in the manner mountains or street cries exist. A new unity of the self makes its appearance in which one reaches reality, beyond the concept of reality as the one that exists outside us. In fact, one reaches the workings of the mind, one reaches the minute amounts of energy that energize the perpetual dynamics at work in the mind and one sees — more and more — that the outside reality, to have an existence, must borrow our memory and the wellknit fabric of our impressions of it, joined together by the mind. One develops a sense of oneself as intimately connected to what is: is innerly and is outwardly. One sees energy as the unifying factor being objectified in time. One knows energy to be the element that holds the details which are made of different amounts and properties of energy itself, within the awareness of a variable but an integrating whole. It makes conceptualization a moment in the whole process, the one which in that moment loses the whole to stress the detail in order to sense the energy deposited pinpointedly on the contemplated objectification. The difficulty of working as a synthesizer-analyzer is overcome for one finds oneself living in contact with the whole, integrating everything without any jeopardy of the reality of the detail on which the mind is focusing. To this way of being, of working, we gave the name intuition. It is intuition that tells us that in the deepest reality at work in our human universe, “nothings” matter most. “Nothings” are capable of becoming “things.” Dialoguing with the personal computer helps us to reach them, if we do not reach them

19


The Computer And The Mind

directly in ourselves. Actually, the computer uses so little energy in its working that we cannot escape becoming aware of “nothings” when we witness its behaviors. Its intolerance of the smallest deviation from that which makes it continue its work, is a sign of its sensitivity to “nothings.” The speed with which it responds, suggests an almost nil “inertia.” In this respect, it is akin to our mental processes which beat the speed of light when we feel the simultaneity with which an item emerges in the mind with its associated items. Nothing of this could happen if we were moved only by amounts of energy we conceive as large compared to the “nothings” we feel. Our system as a whole is made of aggregates of “nothings.” This requires that we take a leap of the imagination and detach ourselves from the projected view of reality as being massive, and working mainly because of its inertia or because of the adequate amounts of energy that produce movements in it. We also need to become aware of a more intimate view of reality in which subtle links and subtle dynamics get hold of our attention and occupy our mind. It is possible to recast the intuition of the universe, current today, in a way that nothing that is meaningful and significant in it is lost while, at the same time, intuition is known as made of the real “nothings” directly accessible. The work with the personal computer is propagating and making the “nothings” popular and accessible. Whereas in the physical universe, large amounts of energy are used in various stars to manufacture atoms, much smaller amounts are used in the electronic exchanges between atoms to make molecules with various degrees of architectural stability. Photons and other subatomic particles individually absorb or contribute very small amounts of energy, but when these are added to form beams of particles that work together, the amounts can be considerable. We know today how to evaluate the actual energy needed by chemical reactions to form new molecules or to generate exchanges of components between existing molecules. Since in our representation we think of individual molecules, but in the laboratory we involve large numbers, the actual energy involved per individual is generally minute. The changes observed in molecular biology are larger than the “nothings” we

20


3 Beyond Programming

contemplate when we conceive of what happens at the microscopic scale when we isolate a specimen to understand its behavior within the cells. Still at that scale, even “large” amounts are minute, and the eye of the scientist looks for the subtle dynamics that will account for local changes. We are becoming collectively more deeply caught in giving energy its central place, but some of us are becoming more interested in what we can do with less and less. The computer and other electronic media are assisting this group by forcing it to become more articulate in that area. In particular, we are becoming able to enhance our insight into how the embryo, the fetus, the newly born child work, under the guidance of a self made of a minute amount of energy (we may call it a “quantum”) with a high potential, and capable of using the considerable energies latent in the environment to achieve its functions. But in the mind, in the brain, only very small amounts (what we label “nothings”) are at work and their yields are spectacular. Working with the computer can yield much more than piles of software and diskettes and games - entertaining us while they consume our precious time — the substance of human life. Its main evolutionary contribution, as it can be seen today, is in freeing us to see for humanity a future of an entirely new kind. It gives a chance to everyone to meet oneself, face to face, in contact with the workings of one’s mind and, to know the mind as a subtle changing scene where everything takes place. Working with the computer can allow us to know ourselves at all stages in life as the baby each of us was who knew how to handle expertly the “nothings” within and, to manage the not-so-muchnothing that is without. Psychology will then gain its true meaning as “the science of time,” and will be concerned with the subtle transformations of the subtle substance that time is. Psychology will study the subtle dynamics of the mind in charge of the subtle dynamics in the brain and the nervous systems, leading each of us to have experience (another subtle matter) instead of the lived years.

21


The Computer And The Mind

How can a new world not emerge when people are engaged in this kind of living? A new world sufficiently well-defined by the mere awareness that “nothings” matter so much and that we must be attentive to them, take care of them — at least when we are confronting the strict demands of the computer. An alert scientist who works on computer programming, knows that it is the vision of a subject that is to be programmed and, that he must perceive its essential dynamics, must hold the vision in the mind, and must turn it around in manners compatible with its essence — but also with another strain of thinking in which the various intellectual constraints of the workings of the powers of the mind and limitations of the computer, are present. New kinds of criteria appear. They make one reject a vague suggestion as inadmissible, or one may sense that it might be delved in or tried out in one form or another, or radically transformed to lead to some movement in the way one is considering the matter, often leading to a new insight that things may be possible and perhaps exactly what they should be, for the problem to be fully understood and replaced by a working solution. An awareness of oneself as the creator of the new criteria and, of the possibility of their emergence, will become part of the epistemology that will join with psychology (the science of time), to give us the empirical grasp of how our intellect actually functions. It will permit our affectivity (or our contact with our inner energy) to pour the exact amounts (the “nothings”) needed to activate all the inner movements, to keep them interrelated, to provide them with the somatic supports made of the electronic shifts in the brain and their organizations as the memories of what is being lived — but also to keep the mental energy alive and enhanced, felt as enthusiasm and as the will to go ahead. As more people are forced to leave the inadequate descriptions of the self at work intellectually in contact with the computer, and adopt more adequate ones, we shall find among mankind an effective and productive group whose say will matter more and more, and hence, that will affect human evolution in a manner which was unsuspected before the advent of the computer. It may take some time before the adequate understanding of what is happening to mankind, to human evolution, is available for examination. But the process has already

22


3 Beyond Programming

begun. It is being seen, felt and described, as this article suggests. Many programmers may be fully occupied with finding solutions to the pinpointed local problems they are asked to solve; they will not contribute to the larger challenges we consider here. But just the same, they are needed to test the suggestions put into circulation here, and to confirm or deny their validity. Since they must have lived some aspect of the process, there is present in them the element that can make them vulnerable to such considerations and provide them a chance to contribute to the founding of this aspect of the new emerging sciences. The sciences of the fleeting, of the “nothings.” One understands now why we speak of “beyond programming” as a field of study open to those involved in one way or another with the computer: programmers, creators of ideas for them, people reflecting on the “happening of the computer” in our midsts. In the last few years — which is not so long a time — the computer has gained a foothold in the modern world. In that “short-quite-sometime,” the role of the computer has been renewed every time it became possible to integrate it to make our lives easier, our world more closely knit and to solve more of our practical problems. When we run out of practical problems, the computers will still be with us and be more varied and more numerous. To imagine new games will be harder because there will be so many of them already. But the untouched field of the dynamics of the mind will possibly become an opportunity for all those who find the computer more and more important in their personal lives. A mere crystal of a suspicion that perhaps in them there is more than could be met — hidden thus far behind a deep involvement — may precipitate a crystallization and open up new worlds of investigation for them. For example, concerning the flexibility of the imagination when one finds how easily one drops a hypothesis and how easily another one makes its appearance; or about the increase in the power of getting new insights that one experiences when challenged by a new proposal brought to one by someone sensitized in a different manner than one is or was. One finds oneself changed as one entertains the uses of the computer coupled with visuals. As one imagines the way this could enhance one’s

23


The Computer And The Mind

spontaneous intellectual dialogue with some aspect of the universe, one feels the change within. A consideration of this possibility, in itself, is a profound revolution in human beings. It can change the whole universe and it is doing it under our own eyes.

24


4 Educational Consequences, Examples

This article summarizes material on which work is in progress. Let us spend a little time clarifying the matter of education at this juncture. Education, at the human level, is the process that operates to help rather than hinder a person to evolve, and become conscious of what evolves in him/her. Thus education helps the process of human evolution in oneself. Through the aggregate of all the sciences, human beings recognize that they are human when their reality of the three realms (cosmic, cellular, behavioral) is integrated in a fourth, the realm of awareness, which is already diversely sketched in the other three realms but becomes strictly itself in humans. When consciousness becomes aware of itself and acts at that level, human reality is generated. Since the reality of evolution unfolds through consciousness, evolution is measured by the time it takes human beings to make explicit that of which they can become aware, and by the fact that those who have become aware make the awareness available to others so that they do not take as much time to make it their own. This is how we perceive human education which, then, has two moments: the individual and the collective.

25


The Computer And The Mind

Just as it is necessary for an individual to unveil the possible, the new, in the fourth realm, it is necessary for those who receive the discoveries to own the same endowment individually. Since things conscious do pass from one human being to another, we are safe in saying that education starts with a feel that the foundation of human education is universal, i.e. every human being is capable of awareness, and of awareness of awareness. In fact, the modern definition of education is only that of awareness. Hence if awareness does not exist in one, one cannot be educated, and if something is being educated, it must be one’s awareness. Collectively we assumed at one stage, that things could and should be retained, and it followed that memory became cardinal and central to education. It still is so in the intellectualist traditional schools in the world today. When the computer was offered to be integrated in traditional education, it took the form of CAI (computer aided instruction) with a stress on conditioning and on right-wrong answers. It did not make a dent as far as education for awareness was concerned. In human education — where only awareness is educable and everyone has to do it for oneself — the appearance of the computer must be assessed in terms of what it does to consciousness and how it can be used in the forcing of awareness. If that is possible, there is a place for the computer in education. It was consciousness that discovered the mechanical in the workings of the mind and created logical machines. The electronic computer is one of them. No machine can exist unless it is conceived and manufactured. By the letter it enters the realm of collective awarenesses. But once it exists, it presents ether challenges to other human beings conscious of its existence. For instance, the mechanization of computation can serve to show: 1

that computation is mechanical;

26


4 Educational Consequences, Examples

2 that learning to use a computer can save the time of practice needed to reach swift and accurate computation while maintaining the value of correct computations and increasing the probability of their correct appearance; 3 that the time saved can be used for the acquisition of other skills such as tabulations of some frequently met numerical items in specialized fields such as engineering, numerical analysis, the insurance business, or much that is needed even in artistic education; 4 that because electricity is used by electronic computers, a need appears for the binary system of numeration which now must be well understood; 5 that in order to keep in touch with the non-specialist public, new inventions are needed, and the machine must contain in it both the binary workings as well as their translation into common notation, the one to be displayed for those who may own the common system of numeration; 6 that a number of possible functions can be made available for other jobs than computation and can be determined which ‌ and so on. All this happens simply because awareness is at work. There is still a new challenge there, if the bias in education is in favor of awareness: how to force awareness of those things which the mind of humans can conceive and, how to give them a form that the computers understand. This last job requires that either one can create a program — in any one of the languages the computer can work with — or that one can hire a person who can do that. We shall accept these assumptions, and concentrate on the first part which assumes that the awarenesses related to a given challenge, have been found. For example, if the challenge is of putting the Chinese language within the reach of all students desirous of acquiring that language, can we force all the necessary awarenesses upon the person in front of the computer? Or rather, can we create a program which will provide all one needs to function as a native Chinese, aware of his language with respect to the successive items being worked on? For that the computer 27


The Computer And The Mind

only needs to respond if the student does the right thing with what is presented. For example, if he hears a vowel with one of the four Mandarin tones and touches an area on the screen dedicated to that tone, his success will give him at once another example to work on; but if he makes a mistake, the computer will give him time to find out what to do and come up with what is required, that is, it will give him time to create criteria which function spontaneously as they do with natives. This way of working is clearly different from the stimulus-response schema which has dominated teaching for decades and has existed because of the prevalent concept of learning, namely, that learning is retained knowledge and so, items of knowledge must be entrusted to memory. We propose to invite students to do things which are easily grasped, easily practiced and through practice lead inevitably to mastery. For example, in beginning with tones we can: 1

let students know that this component of sounds can be isolated in order to focus on it, to know it — i.e. what tones are and how they blend with sounds one can make — but also integrated to produce a new entity which, as soon as it exists, can serve as a useable instrument to extend one’s awareness of voice production and, to attempt to master something new;

2 let them know that only vowels are toned in Chinese and, since there are only 8 of them, that the task is a manageable one; 3 let them know that in a short concentrated period, they can master this part of learning Chinese which has proved repeatedly capable of defeating adults (if not young children). To solve the pedagogical challenge of tones for Mandarin, we only need to offer students three kinds of activities, all centered on awareness. First, they must be told or shown, that if the sound of a vowel that exists in their own language is asked for, it must be altered in a systematic way by giving it a pitch (or tone), an associated alteration that will become part of what they utter from now on to make it Chinese. So, the four tones will gain reality when the students hear a vowel as four distinct integrated wholes in which something remains

28


4 Educational Consequences, Examples

constant (the “sound” of the vowel as it is in their own language), and something is altered in specific ways independently of the sound. Only awareness can provide this contact with the reality of such sound productions. This first challenge can be handled by a programmer as follows: at the center of the TV monitor a colored rectangle is shown, the function of which is to trigger a vowel sound in one’s own language, say, a white rectangle triggers the first vowel sound in “father.” Then the student is asked to touch with a light pen a spot on the area in the upper-right corner of the screen. Once this is done, the voice produces the top tone blended with a (we shall denote it here: ā). In the lower-right area a spot is reserved for the tone (that is represented by a) that drops and then rises. The student can be shown a few of the 8 vowels in this way by simply changing the color of the central rectangle so that he has time to recognize which are the four tones that he can blend with these sounds. The second activity is related to the first — and serves as a test of its mastery. The rest of the vowels are introduced without an indication that they are altered by any of the 4 tones just met. When the student touches any of the 4 spots, each will trigger a toned vowel sound produced by a native voice. If this is the one foreseen by the student, he can move to another area, if not he can try again, listen carefully and concern himself with the criterion that would feed back to him whether his inner preparedness coincided with that which was being presented to him from outside. The third activity is the request through a certain command for any of the 32 sounds blended with tones produced at random by the voice, and the expectation that the students respond by touching any one of 8 small colored areas in a window followed by any one of the 4 spots of the screen on the remaining area around the window. Clearly the assumption is that a hearing student will be able to associate in his mind the oral experience with the aural one. At the moment, there are no technical means of this kind in the field that permit testing in the way a teacher present in the class would do. 29


The Computer And The Mind

Extensive experience with the Silent Way supports that the above assumption is a reasonable one. Hence it has been possible (theoretically) to use the computer to force awareness of 32 vowel sounds in Mandarin and to provide some facility in recognizing which one is heard and some facility in producing deliberately any one of them. In our research we have found that mastery at every stage produces mastery all the time. This leads us to develop the programs to form a hierarchy of indispensable activities, each to be worked on systematically, and the outcome of each to be used as a springboard to move forward. What needs to be taken care of is that each challenge can be entered into, can be entertained for as long as is needed to reach mastery, can be integrated with existing working capabilities and skills, makes sense and lets students feel that it opens up new possibilities. The role of the computer as used here is precisely to meet all these demands. In other words, to serve education truly and effectively. What the computer can also do is, operate as our mind does, that is, use the past experience in the form of an integrated whole serving as basic stuff, and let one work pin-pointedly on some newly introduced matter or dynamics which need to be mastered per se before a move is taken as the next step. For example, again, once the 32 Chinese vowel sounds are mastered, the students of that language will have to enter resolutely into the activity of forming words, and sentences, and in that order. For this, consonants have to be introduced. Since vowels and syllables are the bricks of speech, students can be given entry into the consonants as pairs of sounds blended together, with the consonants characterized by a distinct colored rectangle which is shown to precede or follow one of the rectangles of the learned vowels. Thus, if we show an orange rectangle above and against a white rectangle, and the voice produces one of the four blended sounds “ma,” orange will be a trigger for m only uttered if there is a vowel by its side. If the white rectangle is above the orange, then one of the four sounds “am” is uttered. This awareness should, and would suffice to generate the other 28 syllables where the 30


4 Educational Consequences, Examples

orange comes first and the 28 when it comes second. These syllables are not taught but are asked for. They serve as test of assimilation and of mastery. There are a certain number of Chinese words among these syllables. A visual indicator would appear every time a Chinese word is met, even if no meaning is associated with it yet. Students are being told to relate more specially with these because of this special attribute. In this progressive unfolding of Chinese, the activities offered by the computer (which are selected for it) are such that the actual acquisition of lexicographic meanings is postponed till the students have mastered a number of the somatic and mental alterations by working on them. We are not yet passing on vocabulary to the students, but we are putting into circulation Chinese sounds recognizable as such or in their schematization as sets of contiguous rectangles in color marked in distinctive ways so as to trigger the appropriate sounds. When a sequence of such vowels or syllables is produced and when through other exercises the phrasing is presented by the computer to generate blending of individual words, new awarenesses are at hand. The students know that Chinese speech, like all speech, is a flow of sounds that can be modulated, and represents distributions of energy in which all is deliberate because it must be willed. In an intimate somatic contact with the energy which the mind mobilizes, the students produce flows of words in Chinese. This represents a true revolution in language learning for it serves students in manners ignored altogether thus far by students and teachers alike. An empirical proof of this will be found when, in a very short but well structured lesson, students will be asked to recognize and retain 11 syllables out of which they will be enabled to produce one billion Chinese expressions whose meaning they already have. In one hour or so they will find themselves ready to utter deliberately a string of up to 15 Chinese sounds whose meaning is no problem for them and feel very close to what natives would do in these circumstances. They will have owned Chinese numeration.

31


The Computer And The Mind

One role of the computer here is to select randomly one of the numerous combinations or/and permutations of the 11 syllables mentioned above, plus three additional ones for markers, and ask for the corresponding utterances respecting; sounds, tones, blending, pausing, phrasing and overall melody. Reaching this level of competence in the beginning of the study of Chinese as a spoken language, will make the ensuing progress both swifter and more secure. The computer has served to force the student to be 100% with his own activity, to know that only real competence can get him out of the pressure he experiences when interacting with the computer (which only accepts correct answers) and that he better do what is required rather than be drilled (the activity which reduces the role of consciousness to zero) as required by memorization. In what we have suggested thus far, the use of the computer has been to let students: 1

work on what they cannot invent but can do;

2 to provide as much practice as the students need; 3 to force awarenesses of the essential constituents of a given language (here Chinese); 4 to provide continuous feedback to the students justifying either staying a little longer with the task at hand, or moving ahead; 5 to generate Continuous testing of one’s mastery or of the steps to it still to be mastered to be on top of the task. However short this program may seem, it has made use of the computer for what it can do best for the students keep them in contact with themselves while learning and knowing exactly what they are learning, how they are learning it and how much of the demands of that language have been met from the start and all along. To continue using the computer beyond that point will challenge creative teachers in a number of ways.

32


4 Educational Consequences, Examples

We can say, in conclusion, that by coupling videodisks and the computer, we can change each lesson into a lively interaction in which the essential vocabulary of a language will be met in clusters that shoulder each other by making meanings perceptible and, which provide criteria for the use of specific functional words. We do not see the computer needed beyond the stage of the functioning language. If it can serve better than other media, its place is obviously there. But there are other means to help further expansion of how to say in the new language what one already can say in at least one’s native tongue. *** We leave for another occasion the extension of this understanding of the use of the computer in other fields, in particular, our work in mathematics as exemplified in the programs that are part of the National Science Foundation funded project. We know that our computer programs for the National Science Foundation project have been guided by our awareness that the forcing of awareness must be followed by practice to lead to mastery, which must be followed by the tests to ensure that mastery has been reached.

33


News Items

1 The National Science Project By the end of August all the scenari had been put on diskettes and most bugs of the first four had been corrected. We even had a number of occasions of testing the programs. As this Newsletter reaches you, the first graders of a school in the Bronx will have begun to use the material with one of the two computers the NSF let us purchase for the project. In the December Newsletter we may have something to report not only about those tests of our programs, but also something about what will be happening at the junior high school level in remedial work, in the same district where the second microcomputer will be located. To our friends we can say: “We are pleased with what we did.� We can tell them that a 3-year old got excited and used the light pen with some delight although no attempt was made to pass on to him any knowledge. He played with the first module of the first scenario which introduces the uses of the light pen on a menu that serves to ensure that the numerals 1-9 are figures and letters are known individually, and independently of the recitation of the traditional sequence. A 5-year old girl played with a few segments, found them understandable and gathered all the knowledge contained in them. That knowledge includes subject matter taught in grades beyond the second. It did not seem to offer any obstacles to her comprehension 35


The Computer And The Mind

and retention as proved by her scores in the parts of the program for those segments that serve as tests. A boy entering the 2nd grade found most of the material to be not only reachable but easy as he used the computer and worked for two or three hours with the material presented to him. In two more sessions all the content offered him can become second nature, proving that it is not beyond the concerns and possibilities at his age. A 10-year old boy who was brought to our Clinic because of his socalled learning disabilities (which were not real but found through tests at another Clinic), found the contents beneath his recovered facilities, but was interested in the programs and ready to play some of the games we offer. Another 10-year old, meeting some subject-matter for the first time, spent about 30 minutes to master it, and did all the adapting required by that unit connected to previous modules but not presented to him. This point was a valuable one for us since we offer the same program to beginners and to remedial cases, and believe both groups will respond well as this boy did. A number of adults were also invited to involve themselves in some of the modules of some of the scenari. Generally speaking, the child in them was mobilized and they enjoyed the challenges contained in the games or in the correct manipulation of the light-pen or the joystick. Our observations of the interest shown by all these people augurs well for the future of our program once it gets into the schools. Although it only concerns itself with the most elementary operations of addition and subtraction, due to the quality of our presentation of the material, a lot of the program contains fundamental mathematics in it which can easily represent more advanced chapters of that science. We can safely look at our first contribution in the field as demonstrative of what can be done for education when the computer is properly used. We are already at work in charting the next few courses in front of us.

36


News Items

It may be time to say publicly that those who took part in this project during its first 12 months deserve to be recognized by name. Steve Shuller, of our staff, made a distinctive contribution in which his acquaintance with the subordination of teaching to learning and his enthusiasm and feel for the computer blended in a creative manner, helping all other programmers to find a place for their talents and know-hows. Patrick Writt at first worked in tandem with Dan Oberst. When Dan left New York at the end of April, Patrick took full responsibility for the coding jobs, having clearly understood our needs and intentions. His good will and dedication must be acknowledged as complementary to his skillful solutions for a number of demanding and difficult challenges he met in the course of furnishing the computer with our unusual ideas. Some of his solutions, we are sure, break new ground in the use of the microcomputer. Ashish Gattegno, a junior at high school, helped for a few weeks during his vacation, debugging a number of modules and doing some original work we intended to give to a much more experienced adult. His successes on our behalf speak highly of his competence. As was said in our news item in the June issue, team work is needed in a task which has so many dimensions. We are happy to ascribe here the progress and growth resulting from the efforts of each of the members of the team.

2 On the Silent Way Horizon The courses this summer have brought their contributions to the ongoing research in the field 1

By chance two 11-year olds registered, one for 60-hours of Mandarin and one for 60-hours of French. Not only were they not tired or bored, they added to the overall flow of the group work by being the keenest to learn and always there to respond when called in. The pride and joy of the parents in seeing their children progressing so well, was obvious. Those among the participants who believed that children at that age did not have enough stamina to stand intensive study of 20-hours over each weekend, marveled at the two kids, their classmates. 37


The Computer And The Mind

2 During the French classes new ways of working were developed which were found to be effective and worth looking into again to ascertain whether they were to be passed on to others in future presentations. 3 During one weekend of Arabic (beginner level), since all students were Silent Way teachers, it became possible to work in depth and at some length on those techniques which guarantee retention at the same time as they provide students with an entry into the language. The participants acknowledged the techniques to be powerful and useful. In the study as it was broached, the observations included were that there was no need to memorize anything, that retention would follow, that awareness would lead to facility and, that effortlessness was achievable if the teacher knew how to work with the baby in each of the students. This was proposed at the beginning of the course and illustrated to the participants’ satisfaction. 4 The three Silent Way Advanced Seminars I, II, III were announced as the last ones to be given at 80 Fifth Avenue and perhaps anywhere else, by Dr. Gattegno himself. The participants were different in all three, except a few who took more than one and three who registered for all of them. A great deal that was worked on during the seminars, has importance beyond the scope of these seminars. Maybe some of the findings will see the light of day and reach the public in the near future. 5 At the TESOL ‘81 Summer Institute, the Silent Way was presented on six occasions. Steve Shuller gave a training seminar, led a four week practicum and gave a lecture; Bruce Ballard, for Korean and Sarah Benesch, for French, offered each a demonstration lesson; Dr. Gattegno gave one of the Wednesday evening lectures to the whole group. 6 As usual the one week long seminar on the Silent Way at the end of August served as a testing ground for new daring ideas which reveal aspects of language learning and teaching not investigated until then. Among the salient experiments, let us mention the simultaneous study in two languages of some perceptible situations with the rods. The two languages were new for most, two knew one of them and one had been 38


News Items

exposed to the scripts of both and was competent in a number of aspects in both but not in the demands made on him by one of them. The languages were Modern Greek and Japanese presented through one word chart each. Decoding was through color and reading a string of words also through that medium.                            

39


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

The Computer And The Mind  

The Computer And The Mind

The Computer And The Mind  

The Computer And The Mind

Advertisement