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Solving Problems

Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc.

Caleb Gattegno


vol. XI no. 2

December 1981

First published in 1981. Reprinted in 2009. Copyright Š 1981-2009 Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc. Author: Caleb Gattegno All rights reserved ISBN 978-0-87825-313-5 Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc. 2nd Floor 99 University Place, New York, N.Y. 10003-4555

We at Educational Solutions spend our time solving educational problems. In our December ‘78 issue of this Newsletter with the title of Problems and Solutions, we presented our outlook on these matters when they are kept within the bounds of education. In this issue we would like to remain in contact with the wider challenge of solving problems wherever they spring in our individual and collective life. “Problem Solving” is a phrase widely used in mathematical education research circles. Associated with it is a technical approach labeled “heuristics” — already known to the ancient Greeks but revitalized in the last sixty years particularly by Georg Polya and his followers. Solving problems is broader than that and it does not seem possible to devise an approach capable of handling them all, mainly because true problems are characterized by their ability to generate new ones, of keeping people on their toes and working. Of course, the framework of our Newsletter does not permit us to do more than touch on some aspects leaving the rest untouched. Still we feel this incomplete handling of the matter can serve to contribute to our readers’ reflection, and to how they approach their own personal challenges. News items, as usual, close this issue.

Table of Contents

1 The Problem Of Problems.................................................. 1 2 The Problem Of Understanding Another Person ............... 9 News Items ..........................................................................17

1 The Problem Of Problems

All of us have problems. All of us spontaneously try to solve them. But very few among us are concerned with what makes a solution and what we actually do to turn a problem round to become a solution. To begin with, we label as problems the content of our mind when we are in a certain state. It is the quality or the attributes of that state which alert us to tell ourselves that we have a problem. The state in a way, is independent of the content. That is why we can use the same label: problem, for many different awarenesses of what generates similar states. While the content mobilizes us differently each time, something in us informs us that we have a solution to the problem occupying us. A solution is accompanied by the disappearance of a tension within. So, the state that indicates the presence of a problem in our mind is experienced as tension: an affective component or a psychic component according to how we relate to the tension. Etymologically a problem is “thrown forward,” when in fact it is neither “forward” nor “thrown.” It stays within and goes round and round, and the feeling of tension is concomitant with our inability to get hold of something in it that will lead us to stop this running after we-do-notquite-know-what. As soon as we sense that we are getting hold of something that belongs to the challenge that stops the rotation, we also sense a change in the tension. We sense its dissolution and conceive of a solution approaching.


Solving Problems

When the challenge is welcome, is associated with a promising outcome of whatever land, the tension belongs to affectivity. When the challenge weighs onus, the tension belongs to the psyche and the feeling of a weight results from the amount of energy mobilized which we sense as too great and possibly exhausting us, i.e. exhausting our energy reserves of the moment. Real problems, of any sort, have so little to do with the artificial ones such as the multiple-choice questions of a test, that we create confusion by calling them all problems. One of the aspects of the problem of problems is that we use the same word “problem,” the state of tension in us, even though these may be qualitatively different one from the other. Another aspect arises when we treat the tension per se as if it were the problem losing sight of its link with the content of our mind. Real problems are those which impose themselves to us, do not leave us, and are rarely disposed of by a “simple” solution. The presence of a problem in us tells us clearly that only by our doing something about it, within ourselves, will it be replaced by a solution, i.e. a dissolution of the mobilization of energy. Our psyche — in contrast to our affectivity — instead of linking more determinately to a problem and mobilizing our gifts to truly find what it is and why it is present — which is the work of affectivity — seeks to relieve the tension by processes which do not belong to it. Examples come easily to mind. When the problems are too big we turn away from them, we accept to believe they will disappear by themselves such as the national debt, inflation, pollution or closer home, teenage involvement in drugs or gambling recklessly, or alcoholism. But not all problems are too big and we do not altogether turn away from all of them. We therefore have a chance to examine what goes on in us when we face problems, real problems.


1 The Problem Of Problems

In all projects — big or small — the self senses the presence of the unknown and of one’s contact with the known. The known generally raises with itself a feeling of peace, of familiarity, equivalent to an absence of challenge. The unknown, on the contrary, teases us and shows that what is immediately available to one is insufficient for the reduction of the unknown to the known. This contact with the unknown, if inevitable, generates the tension that generates the feeling of a problem. But if it is not inevitable, the contact can be maintained by one’s will and the tension experienced as stemming from within, as an involvement in the challenge, as a commitment to let the unknown affect us so that we make room for it and thus make it part of the known, the new known. Thus by an act of the will, if we let contacts with the unknown become inevitable for us we grow in our affectivity. We then give ourselves problems, we let problems propose themselves to us and not be imposed on us. Artists and scientists give themselves problems of this nature. Let us first consider the ease of inevitability which can cover a wide spectrum and every one of us will have a long list to contemplate. Our social world is full of them. Unwanted pregnancies are problems to at least those involved in their happening: in some cases and in some countries an unwanted pregnancy is a terrible problem, in some others a difficult one; in still others, an abortion appears as a solution. Here we have an example of how problems can be triggered by actions of which all is known and perhaps welcome, only the consequences of actions are ignored. Anti-abortionists generate for themselves other problems by being disturbed by the occurrence and by wanting to find how to stop that which goes against their values. Pressure groups of all kinds generate new problems by letting themselves be engaged in affecting legislators and in producing majorities supporting their interests or views. Identifying oneself with one’s views is one of the aspects of the psychic component in the problem of problems. Once we identify with a problem, we shift to believing that we have a solution and although we may see none at once, hope sustains us that one will be found. Thus we 3

Solving Problems

shift to the imaginary world and buy some lottery tickets for example to be favored by luck and thus lick the problem. Affectivity, on the contrary, does not propose such shifts. It puts us in closer contact with the challenge or challenges. It provides the required steadfastness (which is, enough energy mobilized in the proper manner and in the right direction) for us to remain in contact with and be alerted to the indicators which show that something relevant is happening. We therefore see that another aspect of the problem of problems is that we either remain in contact with them or run away from them. When we are with them we may truly find that we better stop entertaining them, a very different inner feeling from running away. The first is a decision in harmony with our affectivity, the second dictated by our psyche seeking a comfortable status quo. Because problems are known to exist by the inner tensions we experience, we must give affectivity as well as the psyche their place in the study of problems. But because all our inner life does not reduce to (affective or psychic) movements of energy but it also involves our intelligence, our imagination, our capacity for work and for investigation, our capacity to surrender, our environmental content as it leaves impacts on us, we must also see that our searches for solutions of problems give our inner life changing climates. Sometimes we are tenser, sometimes less so, and we can be even carried away by an optimistic feeling. This can last for some time whether it is caused by an illusion or by a glimpse of something valuable on the horizon. As we recognize our errors we may let a problem loom larger because we infuse it with feelings that come from some other source e.g. expectations or disappointments. The nature of a problem can become different and our relation to it changed altogether, if we allow our expectations and disappointments to interfere with it. Our problems involve us, possibly the whole of us. We must consider carefully the dynamics that lie behind involvement and not stop at the recognition that the tension within characterizes the existence of problems. Something in us may perpetuate a problem, may blur our intelligence, may make us take steps which aggravate our situation and still have nothing to do with our encounter with the challenge.


1 The Problem Of Problems

On one occasion, sitting for a written examination — for which one and a half hours were allocated by regulation — to calculate an (curvilinear) integral, I saw immediately what the answer was. Instead of writing it down and leave the room, I thought of the 90 minutes supposedly needed for this calculation. This thought changed itself into suggestions to do this or that which, compounded, created a mess and I left the room 90 minutes later not having found the answer. The next day I heard I had failed that examination where I could have had top marks had I believed my first sight. How my intelligence allowed this interference on the actual calculation of the unrelated matter of the duration of the session for this exam, I am still unable to comprehend. But it did, and I became alerted to this aspect of problems and concerned about not letting the students I meet fall in such traps. When we consider problem-solving we rarely concern ourselves with these “emotional” matters. Still, emotional interference is an aspect of the problem of problems. Perhaps it may have an important place in determining how we approach this very challenge. For school people, problems are not only restricted to subject matter, but to only one subject: i.e. mathematics. There, it seems that the problem of problems is made still more obscure by the attempts of educators to find an overall approach, called “heuristics,” which should become the center of attention of teachers, curriculum designers, teacher educators, researchers bent on reforming the field. That overall approach is seen as entirely intellectual although many writers allow themselves the mention of affective or psychic components. The means of grasping the dynamics behind the problem of problems, exist in the empirical approaches mankind generated over the millennia when confronted by the very numerous challenges individuals have met in their life on earth. But we have not been inclined to gather those means, so keen were we to find solutions and then gladly to forget the problems they related to. A problem exists through some human perception. There have been problems which have occupied generations and there still are problems in many fields which defeat our grasp of them. This simply means that 5

Solving Problems

with our perception of the content of a problem goes another perception which we can call “the problem of the solution.” Some famous scientific problems (like Fermat’s “theorem”) have challenged the best minds and while they served to open up new fields of research, they did not make a dent on the original challenge. Since such famous problems have remained unsolved they seem to be more valuable for the evolution of a science if they stay that way. Moreover, while the appearance is that we seek solutions to problems, the reality is that the valuable problems are those which generate new challenging ones. When we work on the problem of problems in order to understand why they exist, what they are and their effects on us, we do not seek a solution. Only enlightenment. Maybe such a position belongs also to problems as they refer to contents which are perceived as having other attributes than what we found in problems. Even when we are confronted with sudden challenges like floods, fires, storms etc. and have to do something at once, we notice that we relate to them through our minds, and our actions betray our grasp of the situation. Though the content overshadows the introspection, it does not make this nonexistent. Indeed, it is sufficient to look at how various people cope with calamities to be sure that humans must remain with problems in order to find solutions that are valid for these problems. The “being with” represents a proper awareness that there is a problem and a greater awareness that there is a problem and a greater chance that, if one seeks solutions, the chances for these to be found are increased. On writing on the problem of problems, I find that the content-problem is left undefined but at the same time is well defined as not being anything else than problems. If I specialize the problem by selecting an example to work on, I am kept alerted so that I do not let the content of the example distract me from “being with” the attribute of problem that is a component of the example. I may need examples to illustrate my findings, but I am careful to see that my choice is one among many, and I am ready to drop my example if its content attracts my attention too much i.e. distracts me from the problematic behind the problem.


1 The Problem Of Problems

The various aspects of the problem of problems may be summarized as follows: •

we apply the label “problem” indiscriminately to some of our states of tension, which are varied,

we do not distinguish between real problems and artificial problems because we fail to see the connection between the content of our mind and our state of tension,

we become preoccupied with getting rid of the tension instead of being attentive to the content of our mind which is co-present and is connected with the tension and thus we tend to run away from our problems or believe they do not exist,

our adherence to that which we already know, makes it a problem for us to be with our problems, as does our lack of commitment to meeting the unknown makes it a problem for us to accept that we may not find a solution to our problem, and we give up,

our emotional interferences distort our perception of the problems at hand and we project “make-believe solutions.”

In the next article there will be opportunity to keep some content at the center while the work is done on the conditions of solving problems, a difficult problem of our daily life.


2 The Problem Of Understanding Another Person

In the life of each of us the desire to be understood and to understand one or more persons looms large. In our foolish moments we believe this has happened. A few moments or a few hours or days later we find out that it was an illusion, a wish we project and adhere to. And we faintly ask “why?” To understand another person is not easy for many reasons. The first is that we do not know ourselves and we spend more time with ourselves than with anyone else however close that person may be. How could we then know others, particularly those we entertain within and for whom we create images and models in which most likely, we are more present than they are? The second is that living — the act of being involved in something — takes our consciousness away from introspection and inner watchfulness and does not leave time and opportunity to reconsider what we do while we are doing it. As a result, not all of us learn all there is to learn in the thoughts we have and actions we perform, all the time, in order to be sure that we remain in contact with what matters when we want to know ourselves and others. In fact, we develop a tolerance for letting the fleeting flee away, and we accept as impossible the constant act of watchfulness. In consequence, we do not feel the deep responsibility that goes with conscious being, and are at peace in


Solving Problems

not having it. We are immediately ready to justify ourselves and to accept our stance as the only one possible in the present circumstances. We can develop callousness or an insensitivity towards other views of our acts, words, thoughts. We can ignore reflection and its necessity for understanding. The third is that we are unequally interested in being understood and in understanding others. For most of us the first is far more important although not the easiest since it starts outside ourselves. It follows that we are emotionally linked to the first. And this distorts things and makes them harder to perceive as they are. And we do little to reduce this emotional component. On the contrary, we remain emotionally involved due to our interest at remaining at the center of the scenes. As we feel more, we believe the importance of that stance is greater than the other, even if we do not give this one its proper place and significance. We even give to the fact of our feelings a privileged position and convince ourselves that feelings dictate more proper moves than a detached stance. We generate a normative framework in our favor and judge the content of experience no longer upon facts of awareness, but on values we prefer and cherish. The fourth is that, while we evoke images of experience of our lives loaded with the meanings we attach to them our associations with messages received from others are generally hollow and filled with whatever we want to put in them. By this operation we open the door to misunderstandings and manage to obtain the opposite of what we desire and wish, i.e. understand others. The fifth is that we do not relate to others in one way only. To be neutral is difficult or perhaps impossible. Specially with people we have invested in, like parents, off-spring, relatives, spouses, co-religionaries, citizen of the same nation, members of the same class, people we admire and so on. Investing in people appears therefore as an obstacle, a hindrance on the way to real understanding. The sixth is that we need a special imagination to function in the manner understanding of another person requires of us. This imagination is as far from fantasy as could be, because fantasy by 10

2 The Problem Of Understanding Another Person

definition, distorts and is very little controlled. Imagination is needed here because one is asked to find the material to fill the statements heard and at the same time remain as close as possible to a reality one has not necessarily experienced previously. An imagination tempered by compassion, by an awareness that everything one will evoke may be off the mark, possibly very far from the actual reality one is involved in contemplating. What is asked here is that one knows clearly that the content of evocations has a remote chance of being similar to what is experienced by others. For superficial relating such an imagination is not required but between people who really want to understand each other, it is a fundamental prerequisite. One can call it an aware-imagination, the imagination that allows to remain close to its functioning and to know what it does, also why and how it can be made into a more adequate instrument. There is no doubt that an aware-imagination is needed, since the challenge consists in penetrating the mystery of someone else’s life — inner, hidden life, more than a film of events. But the need for it may not generate it and the understanding suffers, often leading to the opposite: impasses and misunderstandings. It follows that if we cannot find a way of bringing it to bear on our attempts at understanding, we must prepare ourselves to reach places in our lives where our relatings will be strained. The contributions of such an imagination make the difference between harmony and easy living on one side and stress and concern on the other. The seventh is that our intelligence must work closer with our awareness and the imagination we looked at above. Intelligence, as is known, is synonymous with understanding. But it is not this meaning that we want to consider here although we are writing on understanding. Intelligence, as an attribute of our self, is that power which the self keeps available to supervise the offerings of the psyche in response to an encounter of something new. Often our psyche takes a cursory look at what comes and responds quickly without resorting to all the means available to the self. Such responses can be a gut feeling, or a retreat from facing a possibly unpleasant or a threatening unknown or a false move to protect oneself by ignoring that aspect of reality presented by the challenge, or whatever. It is then that


Solving Problems

intelligence distinguishes itself from all other attributes of the self. When intelligence is at work, it proposes to the self — 1

the proper look of what is being done by the psyche,

2 the lighting called sense of truth, 3 the assessment of the psyche’s proposals in order to determine their adequacy for the meeting of the challenge and, above all 4 the clear view that other means exist which must be tried to find out whether they are more adequate for the meeting of this challenge. We all have plenty of opportunities in our daily life to find out whether or not we act intelligently; whether and how often we let the powers of the status quo — which are psychic powers — serve as brakes in the working of our intelligence. Because intelligence only lights up what the psyche refuses to let go, and in order to let the light in so as to advise the self to use what was available but not operative, intelligence can appear as opposing the psychic powers. This may be so but it is not necessarily always so. Intelligence does not have energy while the psyche is energy. Intelligence to act goes through the self which orders the psyche to release its grip and to make available to affectivity the energy needed to obtain the changes suggested by intelligence. When the input of intelligence is accepted, the self through affectivity mobilizes the energy that the psyche controls — and has controlled on behalf of the self until now — to begin the new adventure suggested by intelligence. This new adventure can be a new life for the person now illumined. Hence, in the move to understand another person a close contact with such dynamics in oneself can serve as an entry into why and what that other person does, can do or cannot do. Just as it tells ourselves what happens in us, it can serve to alert us that maybe this is what is working in the other.


2 The Problem Of Understanding Another Person

Without such lightings, it is more likely that we misunderstand the actual state in the other. We may miss knowing what the other is actually capable of doing with himself or herself. The eighth reason for the difficulty of understanding another person is the extent of our sensibility. The fact is that we are sensitive but selectively. Certain realities are perceived by us to exist but others are not. Perceived, not only with sense organs but with all those channels of vulnerability we managed either to open in ourselves or to prevent from closing. Sensitivity works only when we let it work, and that is the job of vulnerability. Vulnerability precedes sensitivity in the temporal hierarchy which permits relating, i.e. relating to things and people. If we do not develop a sense that vulnerability is a power of the self, we reduce its availability to us so as to “protect” ourselves, making ourselves unable to enter universes which could be for us too, but are now obliterated by our own doing. Sensitivities are like lines on an optical spectrum each letting some light get through, they are the actual means of relating. The presence or absence of lines can serve to describe the multiplicity of spectra of sensitivity. What is not generally known is that by cultivating vulnerability as a property of the self, we endow ourselves with sensitivities by activating openings and by dwelling in them. Since so many cultivate the opposite by refusing to be touched by this or that, by making themselves “invulnerable,” i.e. insensitive — we see a world in which understanding others is the exception. Clearly, to be infinitely vulnerable may lead to paralysis by excess of impacts for which there may be no means for coping. Hence this fear demands that we restrict our vulnerability in order to keep ourself from falling apart and in order to cope with life as it is and with the world in which we live. This defines the extent of vulnerability that the self of each of us permits in accordance with the suggestions of the psyche acting as the preserver 1

of ourselves as an integrated whole, or

2 of the status quo requiring that we develop some resistance, or


Solving Problems

3 of our fears that we may fall apart and stop being able to cope with our lives. If we need a greater vulnerability to relate to others and we do not give it to ourselves, we shall clearly hamper relating and generate difficulties for ourselves which stem in us but are messily intermingled with the perception of the other we are trying to relate to. We have to be sensitive to so many components of the act of living — as humans who are deprived of the instincts that guide animals’ behavior — if we aspire to relate harmoniously and openly, in truth and complexity. The large number of these components by itself represents one of the greatest challenges to us; to us who think of themselves as dedicated to finding a true way of relating. Learning to relate to others with as much understanding of them as possible is an important aspect of human education. This is a lifelong process — as all education is — and, is for one to take upon oneself to carry on for oneself, by oneself. This is considered such a tall order by most of us, very few dare give themselves to it. Those who cannot, can still have a glimpse of what would happen in their life if the right sensitivities and the corresponding vulnerabilities were developed and working. One springboard for having even a mere glimpsing of the world of full relating is, of course, love. The function of love is to make us transcend boundaries which are set up by the psyche to keep us within ourselves in the manner our muscles, bones, nerves, organs are within our skin. The boundaries that define the individual in each of us, can become enclosures, closing us in. Love lets us know others as dwelling within us. Love teaches us to meet their unique reality and provide us with criteria to relate to them in total respect for their individual experience. So long as love is operative, it can be counted on to inspire us to widen the existing sensitivities and to generate new vulnerabilities that develop new sensitivities. Which will be needed in such or such circumstances: the alert awareness in each empirical life will make that plain. Those who actually develop and live new sensitivities will know them existentially. Others by coming to know of them, can become sensitive to the reality of such sensitivities.


2 The Problem Of Understanding Another Person

The ninth reason for the difficulties in knowing another person is found in the way we absorb and unconsciously identify with the values and taboos that are in the collective psyche around us. The slow process of growing in a community, wide or restricted, gives us the means of receiving and of letting settle in us the moves of our parents and ancestors, and make them part of the fabric of our own psyche. They operate by selecting for retention that which is compatible with the invisible but effective guidance which the collective unconscious imposes on us, and for rejection of that which is incompatible. In this way we are lived by the collective psyche. We can recognize that for our own life to be our own we need to develop a non-collective outlook which translates itself as the right to assert our own personality, our own uniqueness called our freedom. If we happen to recognize that developing a non-collective outlook is not sufficient for us to be truly free of the impact on us of the collective unconscious, we may live our individual freedom still in another way. We may realize our freedom by becoming aware of the existence of the collective unconscious as part of the human condition, and by aspiring to freely relate to, internalize and make real — through our actual, conscious living — the most evolved human aspects which the collective unconscious holds for us and has to offer. Love for life creates a bond between the best of that which is conscious, and the best of that which is unconscious in an individual life. To begin with, the individual is separated by his skin from others. When conscious of this separation, he may extend it by not accepting what the culture proposes that also separates him from others belonging to varying cultural groups. In this, he finds that he can do what earlier seemed binding and now becomes the expression of his freedom, or at least of a modicum of freedom. If the community accepts his non-acceptance, it tells him that the perception of its being binding was not real and his freeing act becomes a source of knowledge — of awareness — that the culture could accommodate this variation. No longer an expression of freedom, the individual finds the culture dynamic and capable of evolution through his act and his awareness. But if he meets with any one of the kinds of oppositions that the


Solving Problems

members of the community display at the perception of his act of freedom, he may have to rebel, to fight, in order to assert his perception of life or his conception of living. Although intimately linked with its reverse (by just being its reverse) this behavior is not called relating. To gain that name new sensitivities are required in those who are shocked and refuse the legitimacy of the new or other behavior. *** But it is also possible to be aware — right from infancy on — of the uniting power of the skin, for, it is through the loving touch of the skin that our hearts are touched. It is also possible to become aware of the fact that the need to rebel is as much a violation of individual freedom — conducted from within, as is the compulsion to conform — imposed from outside. The new sensitivities required for living one’s freedom are the ones that help one transcend one’s individual need to conform or rebel. They are the ones that call upon one to act, and through one’s existential being serve the heightening of human consciousness. There are of course, many more reasons for the difficulty in understanding another person. Since “understanding all means forgiving all,” the mess we say we perceive in some lives tell us more of the closeness of the boundaries of our outlook to our own preferred set of behavior than of the work we have done on the road to understanding others. Forgiving can easily be egocentric and patronizing unless it derives from true understanding and from the acceptance that the mystery of being will remain with us, in this life and next lives.


News Items

November 1981, brought new opportunities for research and for the dissemination of the findings of the previous twelve months when Dr. Gattegno visited England, France and Switzerland. The four weeks were intensely occupied with more than 200 hours of seminars, study in groups, of questions of interest and in testing or developing new channels opening new ground. 1 The first week in Charney Manor a few miles southwest of Oxford, a group of 20 people working within ATM (founded in early 1952 by Dr. Gattegno and a few friends) agreed to examine as thoroughly as they could what was needed to be done to give the teaching of mathematics in the United Kingdom a new impulse. It was quickly agreed that such impulse was needed, for the group’s grasp of the situation was wide and deep and not very comforting. Members of the committee of ATM were there, the editor of the journal and local animators also. From classroom teachers to education departments’ staffs, to investigators and people responsible for improving teaching through in-service in populated areas including London, everyone had something to say about needs but solutions were less evident. The daily meetings — in an imposing room belonging to a (redecorated) Manor built in 1260 — were only a small part of the continuously increasing impact of this group on itself. Meals, walks, late night discussions in the kitchen, allowed to count that one hundred hours were spent at work in 6 days of seminar. What was achieved will not be found at once. The final proposal included a plan of action and certain uses of


Solving Problems

the journal and of the membership of the Association to give more people the benefits of the group’s work if those could be formulated and made understandable to a larger audience. This is most likely to happen, for many were articulate and reached the conclusion that practical and important consequences of the work done there would attract many of the dissatisfied educators looking for guidance from the leadership of ATM. The most repeated comment on Dr. Gattegno’s work presented at the meetings was that the epistemology he was proposing seemed attractive, valid and capable of making a difference in the field if known to more workers in it. But more time was needed to examine it more thoroughly. One point, on which a tacit wide agreement was reached, was that the insidious presence of microcomputers in schools offered reformers a new chance. Dr. Gattegno had taken with him the programs he developed in the United States in the last two years (on Infused Reading in California with the help of ATL and on elementary math in New York, with a grant from the NSF). Apple Inc. was kind enough to let the group have a micro and peripherals for a week. Thus it became possible — 1

to have feedback on these programs, and

2 to be explicit about what contributions could be made in the growing acceptance in the field of new ways of teaching (during that week the British Government announced financial support to all schools intending to have a microcomputer, proposing to pay half its cost). Felt as the group’s opportunity, some time was devoted to finding criteria for the assessment of computer courseware in mathematics. Quite a number were found. An interesting small point: these math specialists were much more excited by Infused Reading which they never thought of, than by the math diskettes covering ground they had known for years although the treatment was so new to them. They went through the Infused Reading


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program with enthusiasm and zest and in 40 minutes managed to read the text offered. They did so with a respectable Spanish pronunciation. The imaginations were fired and requests for the English equivalent expressed. It seemed clear that what they saw represented a breakthrough in the fight against the growing illiteracy in English. Many said it was a “memorable week.” 2 Three hours after he left the seminar on math at Charney Manor, Dr. Gattegno started an ESL weekend seminar in Bristol at the residential center “Burwalls,” run by the University of Bristol for its short courses. Mr. David B. Davies, a user of the Silent Way in his own language school ABON, accepted additional burdens over many months to organize the weekend, mainly attended by teachers of the recognized schools of English to foreigners. Fifty-eight people registered, four among them came from Zurich, Spain and Sweden Among the participants there were some who had used the Silent Way, some who had seen a demonstration and many who had heard of it only. The title of the seminar was: “the subordination of teaching to learning” in the field of language. Hence it was possible to concentrate on learning languages rather than teaching, and to show how the materials and techniques of the Silent Way helped students in using their powers to master a language. Thus, Dr. Gattegno started by asking what in each of us betrayed the continuous presence of the baby we had been years ago. The question surprised everyone and the answers were far from the actual functionings of today which are with us since babyhood, like talking and speaking. But soon it became clear that many of our automatic functionings we use all the time were truly gifts (permanent gifts) of the baby in us. Dr. Gattegno then suggested that he could, as a teacher, relate to the baby in each of his students and thus accelerate learning of a new language. He offered the next day, 3 hours of Arabic to a class of 20 within the class of 58 present, calling the others the observers. This took the morning, leaving the first part of Saturday afternoon for the study of the lessons. 19

Solving Problems

Observing lessons is a difficult task most people do not manage and the discussion showed, as usual, that the demonstration lessons had not fulfilled their purpose. Some of the students of Arabic were more interested in going on with it rather than study the morning sessions. Some of the observers wanted to know from the teacher what had been done by the teacher. Some said that they left their role of observer and joined the class, silently doing everything as if they were part of it. Some said that what they saw happening here happens as easily in their class when they teach. Almost all had questions unrelated to the subordination of teaching to learning exemplified in the actual moments of the lesson. Some of the students in the class had given up and had not been picked up again. This disturbed several to the point that they condemned the lesson as ineffectual with all, and a few even showed so much disapproval of the Silent Way that they walked out and some among them left the seminar. The rest of the time on Saturday and up to twelve noon on Sunday was spent studying how the materials and techniques of the Silent Way meet the needs of the teachers of English, stressing the kind of assistance foreign students need to become fluent in this language. The time spent on the spirit of English did not touch the natives for whom this has little meaning. Still, since it is one of the contributions of the background research behind the Silent Way, Dr. Gattegno insisted that they pay attention to it. The spirit of English was defined by working on examples. What is meant by “demands unconsciously felt by Englishspeaking people,” became clear when the participants realized that the native speakers of English spontaneously place words in a certain order, and feel awkward when they are placed (also spontaneously) by foreigners in another. As the exercises made sense, some of the participants began to feel that there may be something behind the four words: “the spirit of English.” After the last Saturday evening session, the Infused Reading microcomputer diskette was shown to a score of participants who took to it as enthusiastically as the mathematicians at Charney Manor. (On Sunday evening two English adolescents went through it in half an hour and ended up like the other two English groups with a very


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respectable Spanish pronunciation without hearing a single word of Spanish from a native.) The Bristol meeting ended in a feedback session that many will not forget. 3 The 18-hour seminar on “The microcomputer in Education” took place in Lyon (France) organized by “Une Ecole pour Demain.” Twenty-nine people registered for those 3 days coming from places as far as Paris, Geneva, Besancon, Grenoble, the Ardeche and even near the Pyrenees. This seminar being entirely dedicated to the computer, it was possible to dwell for some time on matters that a few specialists in the group found highly timely and for them, significant. At last, the computer was not only used as a toy or a substitute for accountants, telephone books and other well-known business purposes. The fact that one could learn well, fast, with understanding subjects that schools attempt to teach all future citizens and do not always succeed in doing, struck the imagination of all present whether they were acquainted with the computer or not. Since they were quite a few in that last category, Dr. Gattegno devised an approach which in a two-hour session made them master what took him a week in his study of the same field. Those who have the job of initiating their assistants or students, were elated to find that someone had at last found an economical and rapid way of making lay people converse with the computer. Someone able to use the keyboard was told by one or more of those studying in that lesson, to do this or that. They found that the orders were executed by the machine as they imagined them. Of course, only a small fraction of what it is to program in Basic was encountered. But it seemed a lot to all and they felt encouraged to go on with it and even to speculate about buying their personal machine. Once more testing Infused Reading proved that forty minutes with it does provide non-natives with a good pronunciation. This exercise also demonstrated that no one was bored through it all; that even when one does not understand the text, one is spurred to go ahead by the inner structure of the program and its momentum. The only questions that 21

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followed were: “When do you think we can have the French version?” “Can one purchase this diskette?” The mathematics on nine diskettes, now named “Visible and Tangible Math,” could not all be shown since the 100 programs on them require from knowledgeable people well over 40 hours of work in front of the TV screen. The selected segments which were shown demonstrated: 1

how one can avoid giving verbal explanation to very young children and still make them use the light pen or the joy stick to advance with the programs guided by a voice (in English),

2 how a way can be found of structuring the course from numeration (seen as a set of language games) to the final algorithm of addition and subtraction (seen as operations of transformation within equivalence relations). Since equivalence is a fundamental dynamic and fertile mathematical awareness, to have been able to make it available to children of primary grades, seemed a momentous feat. Transformations are essential but rarely experienced as such. They are left in a shadow for years. Their explicit appearance in these programs in a few forms seemed to the elementary teachers present to be exciting and welcome. But more than this, the cardinal role given to complementarity in this course served to enhance the interest in it of those present. It made clear: •

how we can treat at the same time addition and subtraction,

how to use one to solve the other,

how to link operations on numbers up to 10, to those up to 100; 1, 000 and so on,

how to end up answering additions and subtractions by sight only and at once and writing all answers from the left in the way numbers are usually read.

When the seminar came to the last feedback session on Thursday evening, the participants expressed their hope that more people engage


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in similar work since it certainly is a valuable use of the computer in schools and makes good programs available at the beginning of the development of the role of computers in education. Many were teachers and did not feel threatened in their job; on the contrary, they felt like having stepped into the future and having given education a new start. 4 In Paris, two twenty-hour seminars had been arranged by the “Association Pour 1’ Education de Demain.” The first, on a weekend on “Enhancing the learning powers of all our children.” The second, on “The psychic powers that help.” In the first, there was a notable moment when the 7-year old son of a participant worked with Dr. Gattegno on arithmetic for almost 3 hours. He took himself through material which is never taught at schools to children his age or even 3 or 4 years older. He did it all by himself and he expressed himself so accurately and rigorously that the two adults working by his side (as students) felt they had to adopt his language (with admiration) and let him move ahead on his own when they lost foot. The work done at that seminar included a close examination of what students bring with them to school and how to use that to make them sail easily through school subjects as they are offered in the French official curriculum: reading, spelling, arithmetic. Whether children are found slow at learning with the traditional approaches or quick, or requiring special attention like deaf or blind students, is it possible to learn to work with them so that they develop criteria and know what they are doing? A way had to be found to make “criteria” a directly accessible notion. A number of examples were developed on the spot so that one criterion after the other was found and made obvious. Spelling was studied carefully as one such field in which memorization did not need to be called in and instead the powers of perception, evocation and recognition clearly found their place in it. But because mathematics is the most common weak point of adults, including elementary school teachers, examples were sought in the field just to show that there is no justification for the fear of it and for the incompetence in it displayed so freely by so many around. Starting with


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what we are sure students bring with them, and making a certain inventory of what it is, it became possible to do much more in terms of awareness. Teachers went home conscious that more can be done with all our children. What the young student did made that conclusion more obvious. The second seminar, in four evenings, had much greater resonance in spite of the difficulty of making Westerners enter studies which are not of behaviors. Since the Self is not felt by anyone and awareness seems to remain a vague notion, — not counting the remoteness of the will and of vulnerability, and the ambiguity of sensitivity — there was need for a lot of work to make more precise what is meant by the psyche. As things turned out by the last evening the participants felt comfortable with these notions, and found useful the meaning given to the word “psyche,” and what was in it of constant help to oneself. The method of work, often presented by Dr. Gattegno in his seminars, consists in not limiting oneself to what one is today or doing today with oneself, but in looking at all the “nows” of one’s life with their contribution to the rest of one’s life. For that the two states of consciousness of the self found in sleep and in wakefulness were handled in tandem and provided a much clearer view of what happens in actuality to each of us sleeping every night, to return to the whole of oneself, and waking up everyday to act in the world and be impacted by it. Hence it becomes clear that in order to remain free to meet the descending unknown, the self must arrange for what is integrated to join what was there, and to generate more psyche in so doing. In the waking state most of the psyche is not called in by the self concentrated in order to receive impacts and to entertain them, therefore we define as unconscious what is not accessible in the waking state. But in sleep it is no longer so. Hence it is preferable to call psyche all that the self left behind by its move to the next present which goes to form our past. Since it is functional in the form of the soma and its functionings from conception on, the psyche grows and allows the self to do more and more in the present. The self does not grow. It evolves. This means that it can handle new, different, more complex and more demanding tasks until it masters them and, through the law of integration and subordination, leave to the psyche its custody, becoming free again to start a new adventure.


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During the night or rather in sleep, the self returns to its wholeness and the construction of the growing psyche goes on, selecting from the day’s impacts what can be integrated with what has been there generally in health; and when it is traumatic, trying to reduce the impacts so as to start the next day in the best conditions possible in the circumstances. At the final feedback session this seminar was hailed as an important event in their lives by those who had conceived the psyche as a villain and by those who knew that there were in it forces that did not help. Those who were new to such considerations found that it made sense in the light of the work done over the four days. In particular people stressed the fact that the notions of growth of the psyche and evolution of the self, when met at the same time, made a lot of sense, and much that had been hanging up in their mind unrelated to anything and uncoordinated now fell into perspective. This seminar was particularly welcome by those who came because they needed help. They found that in any case only their self can help them. By becoming more alert to the working of their psyche and the abscesses it developed over the years, they believed they could do their work. 5 The ten days of Geneva were organized by “Face à L’education” that arranged the annual November seminar in Geneva for the last 10 years. Most of the sessions took place at the International School that has been host in the past as well. There were three long seminars; one, 8:30 to 3:00 course; two 2-hour demonstrations (of these last three, two were outside the International School); five clinics which took from one hour to six hours each, concerning five children believed to present problems needing Dr. Gattegno’s attention. There were also four demonstration lessons and a few staff meetings. This heavy schedule suited Dr. Gattegno’s style of working which instead of tiring him, recharged him. In a Saturday-Sunday workshop, the work done during the sixteen hours given to the topic “The writer in each of us enabled the 19 participants to find the writer in themselves. For some it was the most 25

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unexpected finding although, by coming, they showed their hopes to do just that. For one participant it only happened in the last session on Sunday afternoon. Last April, in Paris (as reported in Vol. X, issue 4 of last year) a similar seminar at which three of the Geneva organizers took part, had shown that it was possible to make people (unaware of their writing powers) produce short pieces of writing that amazed all present by their quality including the writers. This time a different approach was used although as in Paris, mostly exercises consumed the time. In particular, a study of the cardinal role played in a short story by the first sentence. This both creates the climate and produces the momentum needed to go further. Another study concerned itself with images that allow flights of the imagination as soon as they are projected. Stories that make people laugh were attempted and some among those written were truly comic. The study of Buffon’s famous statement “Le style c’est 1’homme” (i.e. the writer is present in his writing and can be known by how he or she writes) was done empirically and at the scale of this group. Looking at a complicated object and describing it, was sufficient to illustrate it. Finding how words suggesting impressions juxtaposed produce in writing an “impressionistic picture” brought home the role of words as “triggers:” triggers of images and triggers of meaning. The seminar aimed at bringing forth the awareness that anyone who has something to say can become a person who has something to write, provided one can put words on paper. To raise someone to a more outstanding position needs work of other lands available from specialists called editorseveryone can become one’s own editor by paying the price through practice of spelling, grammar, search for more proper words etc. The writer in every one of us is not automatically a writer that ends up being published, and then being acknowledged, and perhaps famous. These stages require luck and other know-hows. The participants seemed satisfied with the first awareness. Their collected writings will be circularized among them once gathered. The twenty hours in four evenings were dedicated to: “How to make students want to write and enjoy writing.” There again a score of participants (some of whom were there at the weekend) worked on exercises. It was found on the first evening that it is unwise to request students of all ages to enter the same kind of exercises. By selecting a certain age to work with, it was possible to determine their 26

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spontaneous interests and relate to them so as to bring every student in contact with an inner source of inspiration as had happened the previous weekend. In the case of students it is wise to separate the technical sides of writing from the jet of words that comes forth on its own in the oral expression. Thus obstacles are removed from the specific cultivation of writing. But independence of the writer from helpers can be achieved if everyone can be sure of, say, one’s spelling and one’s grammar. So both were studied as matters to be taken up separately and in order to free students, not to satisfy school requirements. Tools developed in the Words in Color approach were looked at systematically in exercises at the seminar, making it plain that spelling can be mastered in a concentrated study during 3 months at age 8 (or later), one lesson a day. As to grammar, it can be seen as a sensitivity to what is said by those who speak and write in a manner that inspires us. Techniques can be found that force awareness that words have special places in sentences and that those places can be meaningful and adopted. Writing correctly can be as easily brought to student’s awareness as spelling by forming in us conglomerates of certain energies which go together and do not stand distortions unless these represent specific choices in the language one hears and reads. Making specific errors is a technique teachers can use to force awareness. Using English words, here are two simple examples” “I did went there” or “Come you with him?” Ordinary speakers may sense this is not done and thus gain direct meaning of what is the function of grammar as a conveyor of some explicitly or implicitly intended meaning. Another evening was used to give the participants techniques that facilitate writing by students sitting at their desk in a class. Everyone was asked to select 25 words which do not include functional words (studied earlier in this seminar) and were believed by the person selecting them as capable of making everyone in this actual group want to write a piece. Such selection in itself betrays who we are, what we think is important and how we relate to others. So the group spent some time listening to each other and deciding whether a choice made by one person was in some way compelling: to feel, to dream, to respond, to wish to dialogue with what had been evoked by these


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triggers. Later on that evening, 25 words were written on the chalkboard and participants experienced directly what such an exercise entails or means. The variety of choices of subsets of these words, of what each did with the choice made, was so striking and even amazing that the exercise was deemed one worth using in one’s class. Passing to young students, the contents of the word charts in the Words in Color approach to reading and writing in French was tested for its fertility and was found adequate for a number of cases one could imagine. The last evening was used first to attempt to define the kinds of challenges one may give students of various ages to meet their spontaneous interests. To give a sense to these last few words, it became necessary to see the whole of one’s life functionally, i.e. what is the meaning of growth from birth to adulthood. The main tenent of this study(related to the one of the evening seminar in Paris) was that our psyche grows but our self evolves. As this became clear to the group, the roles of the psyche and the self, at every moment of living, and their roles in writing seemed to become a major insight into how to work on a whole range of personal problems and how to use them in the education of the writer in our students. The final feedback was naturally deeply affected by the impact of that study but some of the lessons learned earlier also found their place. The third long seminar was on “Human Creativity.” This area is being studied at 6 weekend seminars in New York, lasting 90 hours in all. The first two New York seminars, one on transformations and one on imagination and intelligence, made it possible to provide work for the seventy-five people gathered in Geneva, at least as a direction and only for three 1½ or 2-hour sessions. The rest was also sketched by the titles of the four remaining New York seminars to come. In Geneva, the short time available generated an entirely different kind of seminar with its own climate and momentum. Because it was short it was possible to bring in closer contrasts matters left one or more months apart in New York. Thus they shed light on each other though there was no time to meditate more deeply on specific points. Transformation, as a fundamental awareness, was easily found to deserve attention and participants were given in French an exercise (given in English in New


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York) which was to serve as an entry into what we do when we see other words in a given word. The one chosen “signature,” proved fertile in both languages. The following session showed how varied the methods used to extract the words of one’s list are and how varied the lists are. People get such pride in discovering particular words hidden in the given word that it verges on the excitement of an important discovery. From this awareness of transformation, as part of the fabric of living, as a permanent demand of life, as an echo of our temporal nature in all we do, all the time, the seminar shifted attention to the “intelligence of things.” This field of study was not as easy as the first and it demanded many examples before everyone was able to find in one’s life scores of examples that showed its importance in the act of creation in humans. At the start of the seminar it had been agreed that the meaning of the words human creation was to be equivalent to awareness that “that which wasn’t there, now is.” Unless a sculptor has an intelligence of the material he works with, how can he make himself remain in contact with it to make it obey his impacts on it and himself sensitive to the nature of it. The short time spent on that component of creativity was compensated by its recurrence from then on. As an example of that intelligence the study of imagination served quite well. On exercises (which used geometrical material) it became possible to have a clear awareness of the profound difference between imaging and imagination. The first is the power of making images using any of our senses, the second to apply other dynamics of the mind to affect those images. Imaging is energy structured by the sense organ, sent to it by the self either spontaneously or as a response to a trigger. For example, if one hears “evoke a circle,” or one reads, “a rose,” images result. But to generate concentric circles out of that one as ripples on a pond or place a butterfly near the rose are acts of the imagination. The third study was of the pair “discipline” and “freedom” in the acts of creation. To illustrate that pair it was enough to go back to what was done by all in the exercise on the word signature. Keeping the word in active awareness on the background, is mark of the discipline and the sense of freedom was obtained when one knew that no rule would yield all the other words. Exercises soon led to placing on one level both discipline and the intelligence of things, and on another level imagination and freedom, and relating the two pairs being studied in those sessions. This seemed to open gates for the study of creativity 29

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while bringing creativity to the reach of everyone. The next sessions were devoted to the personal, individual components of creativity in those who are acknowledged as creative and among whom the participants did not want to count themselves. The proposal was made that that individual component is to be found within the soma and the psyche in the edifice that each of us gives oneself in utero and later. The “temperamental” basis of creativity is acknowledged by all artists if not scientists, philosophers, theologians though all go through that same route of making themselves and gaining experience. Once again, the approach that stresses in life growth and awareness served to make evident how the self projects and directs, and the psyche, along with the soma, provides the energy to objectify creations. The experience gained during the months of somatic structuration in our mother’s womb never leaves us and effects us in a manner not yet studied but no less certain. Stamina is one of the demands of creation and it clearly has its roots in one’s temperament, i.e. in what we did to give ourselves this soma and this psyche (the latter in conjunction with the impacts of the environment). The contact of the self with one’s temperament is best achieved in sleep. In the waking state, the self can act but at the cost of conscious contact with all one has been in this life. The inspiration of creativity is at work in sleep as well as in the waking state but then the emergence of what one is in what one projects, is immediate and functional. The personal mark in all one’s work follows from there. The last session of the seminar concerned itself with the education of creativity. Dr. Gattegno insisted that his role as a teacher is to force awareness, the rest is the students’ contribution to his education within the time allotted by the teacher for practice. Lessons in painting were sketched and appeared to be good illustrations of what had been found in the study of creativity via its various components. These three long seminars were not the only sources of lessons valuable for all of us. A few demonstration lessons with groups of students offering problems to their teachers were arranged to see what Dr. Gattegno would do with them. One group of 15 adult refugees in Switzerland who were being taught French at a Protestant Social Center, worked for two and a half hours on matters that needed


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attention, in particular, pronunciation. By keeping the same few words in a sentence which was widened to become a paragraph and a story, students had plenty of opportunity to practice sounds they had not mastered yet. Since these sounds were not part of the 5 or 6 native languages represented, they were detected earlier in the lesson. In fact, the sentences added to the story — done only via the sound/color chart and gestural suggestions — were constructed on the spot to serve precisely the purpose of providing practice on these sounds. The testimony of the students and of the 15 observers indicated that by working in the way used in that lesson some definite problems can be tracked down and solved once and for all. A group of 24 adolescents in a technical school were taught German using the Silent Way materials. The sound/color chart had been prepared locally and was not accurate nor easy to use by someone who saw it there for the first time. The clarity of awareness of the sounds to be triggered when certain rectangles were touched could be achieved through gestures and reference to those who produced the acceptable sound. Then these sounds were translated into a flow of German words forming sentences which the classroom German teacher acknowledged as one she wished for them but could not achieve by the means available to her thus far. These students had just been introduced in that lesson to the color code and to the Silent Way. A group of 12 bad spellers of the same age and in the same school were brought to Dr. Gattegno by their teacher who had worked with the French Words in Color. She needed assistance to make them work better. The group worked together, enjoying every minute of it and showing that, once they knew that criteria for spelling were to be found in their verbal utterances, they could guide themselves to the columns of the Fidel and there look for the sign most likely to belong to a given word. Cooperation and attention were exceptionally high and the yield was considered outstanding. No one noticed they were a special class needing special attention. Another group at the International School had a spelling session. This was carried out without materials. A consonant followed by a dash was offered as a challenge asking clearly for a vowel. Since the dash


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represented the equivalent of a sound and not a letter, the class was engaged in finding as many French words starting with that consonant (f) and ending with a vowel (e.g., fa). The remarkable thing was that after finding 24 different words (some were new words to the members of this international group of which only two had French as their mother tongue) they wanted to try to find new ones. Naturally several homonyms were found, and to distinguish them meant going through the meanings. A spelling lesson became a French language lesson. Since such a game can be played by every child alone or in company and since it seemed definitely capable of awakening and maintaining interest, a number of spelling lessons could be generated. A history lesson with 40 adolescents (forming two classes put together) could have been much more profitable to all, had an idea used towards the end of the lesson come earlier. Dr. Gattegno asked the students: “How would you find my mother’s name?” Some of the proposals suggested by the students resembled methods of work used by historians wanting to discover historical facts. Had there been more time for this lesson, the students’ suggestions could have served to make them aware of history as an investigative process rather than a sequence of stories about which most people have no idea how they developed. But not enough could be done with this question. The good will of the class, not the actual participation of the students in the matters raised, made the lesson support itself. The five clinic cases were great sources of learning for the adults present, but more important than that was the fact that in four of the cases, for sure, the children had been saved months if not years of frustration and perhaps entering adulthood with a chip on their shoulder. Telling these stories in detail will have to wait for another occasion. 6 Soon after returning to the United States, Dr. Gattegno went to California and visited two small communities Visalia and Moraga. In the first — which he had visited 21 years earlier and where he had demonstrated the Silent Way for ESL with a class of 80 migrant workers — he was a guest of the Bilingual Office of the County of Tulare. The office had acquired the video program and needed some


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introduction to its uses. The local interest in Spanish literacy provided an opportunity to test the Infused Reading diskette with two Spanish speaking non-readers. Although the 3-day seminar on ESL and the tapes generated ample material for a good report on teacher education, the exciting news we can send out concerns the computer program. We made time to test it with a small sample of people for whom it has been produced. In one and a half hours, almost the whole program was gone through, needing another 15 minutes to complete. (These students could not afford these additional minutes on that evening.) Observing their learning it was clear that: •

the beginning, which only takes care of the five vowels and their eleven spellings, can be mastered in about 20 minutes by adults and children alike (there was a child of five in front of the monitor who stayed there first learning with the two adults and after three vowels, doing it by proxy and moved away only when the fourth or fifth consonant was introduced);

by making a few and easy alterations to the programming to give more control to the learners more interactive relation can be established;

Spanish-speaking learners get a lot of help in solving some of their reading problems from their spoken language;

the overall meaning of the text or paragraph emerges gradually and the meaning boosts the students’ speed of reading when they go over the same ground — this brings to the fore that a new variable must be introduced in the computer program to take care of the completed phrases while not delaying entry into those not yet completed — perhaps a very difficult coding job;

a booster of energy is also met by the students in themselves as they experience their steady — and sometimes sudden — progress which keeps them on their seats concentrating on doing what the program asks of them without any other sign of fatigue than that due to


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the light on the screen, (which can be adjusted and thus taken care of); •

an awareness that to learn the written code of Spanish is easy, seemed to reach the students which they expressed in their relaxed stance.

Although no one could vouch that the learning experience through a single exposure to the Infused Reading will help in further studies, this may well be the case. In Moraga, Dr. Gattegno presented, in the morning, the subordination of teaching to learning when he taught some math to two classes of adolescents labeled “unmotivated.” The joy of learning and the gift of continuous attention came back to these 17 and 31 young people in the seventh grade and eighth grade, and proved that nothing was wrong with them; only that they have become used to being bored. After lunch, in the computer room of the elementary school, the math and reading programs were presented on a borrowed Apple II (this school has 10 Commodore PETS). The participants were touched by what they saw as it became clear that here were some things worth considering and that looked so different from what had been found among the programs on the market. When presenting the Math Mini Tests to a group of teachers, principals and administrators, Dr. Gattegno found in all an excitement rarely displayed when they review math materials. The Mini- Tests are clearly meeting a need of American educators since this sample audience being particularly cautious and conservative, found the existence of Math Mini Tests on the market good news they were pleased to hear about.


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.

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