Transfer Of Learning
Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc.
vol. XII no. 2
First published in 1982. Reprinted in 2009. Copyright ÂŠ 1982-2009 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 www.EducationalSolutions.com
When men became aware of their pending death at any age and for any reason, they must have discovered that there was one effective way of making their days more productive and that was by avoiding wasting time on repetition. They must have noted very early that a proof of learning was the possibility of transfer. Thus they knew that they had exchanged their time â€” which is fleeting and irretrievable â€” for some know-how or knowledge and knew they had that know-how or knowledge because they could use it in furthering their quests. Transfer of learning gained thus several, if not many meanings and we shall examine a few of them in the body of this issue of our Newsletter. Readers are invited to contribute their own. Of special interest is the dual effect of such an awareness. On the one hand, it makes us understand the why of memory and on the other, the infinite possibilities of human creativity by the fact that we do not ever have to stay for long with what we have attempted to master but use such masteries to move ahead. By synthesizing those aspects, transfer of learning gains greater significance. News items as usual cover different matters.
Table of Contents
1 Aspects Of Transfer ........................................................... 1 2 Some Conditions For Transfer .......................................... 9 3 Growth By Transfer Of Learning ......................................15 4 Learning To Transfer ...................................................... 21 News Items ......................................................................... 25
1 Aspects Of Transfer
Although difficult to imagine with precision because it requires specialized study, our embryonic development presents us with the most valuable approach to transfer. Complex and systematic, it will serve us well when we transfer that learning to other fields. In other words, we shall be learning about transfer by transferring. We all spend months in our mothers’ wombs before we are born. We grow from one cell to a soma that weighs a few pounds, displaying different tissues and organs and, normally, with all of them functioning organically. Most people know that this occurs but they do not feel the need to know how. Someone else must answer if the question comes to them. For our purpose here the acts of producing the soma, usually over nine months of confinement in the womb, will be considered to be learning. The environment exists and supplies a lot: the DNA that links us to the past; the chemicals that are the bricks for the structurations of the tissues and are brought to the embryo by one’s mother’s blood. But their actual use is by an active self bent on doing in the here-and-now what nature and nurture permit. To relate to the past in general there is the DNA and its working; to relate to one’s own past there is what has been done with the given — up to the time t we select to look at a learning and its transfer. To the self, which is doing the job, contact with that which already exists is contact with memory. This has two forms, the equivalent of knowledge
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which is formed of the molecules in the cells, the cells in the tissues and the tissues in the organs, and the know-hows, which are all the processes and functionings associated with the working somatic structures. Memory has to be called in because time has elapsed and instead of it, something is present in the form of organized and integrated wholes, working generally well both locally and globally. Thus from the start, memory represents the past, but a past which is also present, since without it the now could not exist and be exactly what it is. Memory’s function in the present is to make the shift to the future possible. And this replacing one involvement by the next, thus leaving the first — without its being abandoned — so as to embark upon the tasks presented by the descending future. Memory becomes the spiritual instrument of evolution: maintaining at one’s disposal all that has been achieved so as to be free to enter into new dialogues without asking for conscious presence in the past. To the extent that the past is memory, it brings its contribution in a manner dubbed “automatic.” The past, our own personal past, produces our memory, also personal, so that we, as humans, can meet our destiny at every moment. Destiny which is unique, personal, individual, partly conditioned by our unique circumstances — in which so much that is due to chance is present — and partly conditioned by the state of our self and what it can do and does with the given. To describe more precisely this working, let us refer to a law: that of “integration by subordination” (established first in the field of neurophysiology). It needs to be extended a little to make room for an entity biologists prefer not to entertain which in the case of humans is the self (in the case of animals, it is instinct). This extension is required if we want to make sense of the existence of our soma and its involvement all through our lives, as well as of our uses of ourselves in the intellectual, social and artistic worlds which have been treated historically as non-somatic, though not so in fact.
1 Aspects Of Transfer
The power of the law of “integration and subordination” is that it allows us to see transfer pin-pointedly and to see it at work at all stages of evolution in the large, i.e. at any scale. The work done in the now is a very definite one. Like writing these words. But to do that work the past must be instrumental. Or better said, one must be free to engage in the shifting stresses brought in by what is not yet objectified but will soon be, so that no energy needs to be diverted to make the past functional. The self is not actively present in what has been made automatic, at least not more than is required to keep it going, so as to have it available when needed.* But the self is concentrated on that which needs to be done now to allow the conscious being to manifest itself in the present circumstances. It is concentration which makes the self work pinpointedly. But the self is more than concentration. For example, it is also a filter preventing irrelevancies from imposing themselves. It is also a selector of what is relevant; an experimenter with what comes; a projector and an intelligent searchlight; a non-attached observer with an enhanced awareness ready to direct and redirect at each moment the mental energies involved in the present activity. In fact, it is the self present in awareness that is the integrator and which subordinates the preexisting and the given, to reach an end selected by itself. This can well be the production of the next layer of nervous tissues in an embryo, or the extension of one’s grasp of the universe by an Einstein. Transfer, in these cases, means movements of the self taking all that has been integrated thus far to tackle a new task. It is neither transfer of knowledge, nor of know-how, although both are possibly part of the movement. It is a sui generis shift recognized by the self alone and uniquely, from where it was, in terms of consciousness, to where it now is, also in terms of consciousness. By observing carefully ourselves talking or writing, we can come close to this phenomenon and see it at work on the two levels of a *
That part of the self is what we called the “psyche” in some writings of the 70’s.
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pinpointed, local activity and a synthetic, global activity. There is transfer of attention from detail to detail within attention to the whole. This itself can also shift at another moment. One of the functions of the attention to the whole is to create the affective and spiritual climate which will accompany the moment-to-moment execution of a task, which clearly consumes the time. Pinpointedly. Our absorption in the details, in the minutes which pass, makes us miss recognition that there is a self in us at work at various levels and guiding the actions we can so easily relate to. Thus we also miss noticing the transfers which accompany our learnings and let the future mold our lives. The self can transfer and does so all the time. It is it that does so and only through its existence and its workings can transfers take place. This meaning of transfer concerns the operator, the self. But there is also transfer of functionings, of know-hows and of knowledge, within the previously described transfer. Because they are more easily encountered and entertained, they also are more easily acknowledged. Once we learned to bend our fingers voluntarily, we can use this functioning to acquire the know-hows of grasping and make grasping into a functioning to be used to develop the further know-how of holding, for example. The self can recognize that holding is not only connected to the physical energy present when the hands are holding something or onto something, but also to the energy present in holding an image in one’s mind, an image received through the sense organs for seeing, or hearing, or tasting or smelling, or touching. Energy is expended in holding and the self which supplies it, knows it from within — by using pre-existing functionings that can now be known as being transferred. Transferring functionings is done all the time but exceptionally with awarenesses. The lack of awareness carries with it reduced perceptibility of the transfers. We take it to be “natural” or given, rather than acquired. But if we become aware of the presence of certain functionings in certain learnings, we can easily reach the self doing the transfer. Thus transfer may be so swift that it seems instantaneous and 4
1 Aspects Of Transfer
beyond the grasp of our reach. Nevertheless, awareness’s stress on itself reveals it. Know-hows are organized functionings. In a temporal hierarchy these here are required for those there to exist. Therefore, many know-hows are more easily accessible and better known generally than functionings. As growth produces greater and greater fields of activity for the self to engage in, know-hows reacquire the status of functionings. But they can still be distinguishable and distinguished from each other. Mainly, for people specializing in their examination. In Newsletter Volume #XI Issue 5 we made this hierarchy more visible and we do not need to go over that same ground here. Instead we could ask the reader to consider the actual act of reading these paragraphs and to concentrate the lighting upon the functionings that are present in the act but which must have become know-hows since they were acquired some time ago and over a certain duration. Transfers of know-how can become the object of one’s study. For example, if one engages in learning to read a new language using one’s own script with some but not all of the signs keeping their value. For the study of the transfers of functionings — which are more primitive than know-hows — we should choose a language with another script and possibly other writing conventions as well. Still, in order to know the ways the self transfers awareness, voluntary acts, perception, etc. — which are present behind such transfers of functionings — will require yet another kind of involvement. *** So far, we have noticed how much easier it is to connect transfer with dynamics than with a static description of the universe we are considering here. Knowledge, for us, belongs to the static aspect of things and to understand the transfer of knowledge represents a greater challenge than the preceding ones.
Transfer Of Learning
We all know of students in schools who do not manage to transfer their knowledge of multiplication tables to the operation of multiplication. They are said “to know” their tables when they can recite them by rote. Those who “know” their products and can integrate them within the algorithm of multiplication, recognize the distinction between the static knowledge of a fact (such as 7 × 8 = 56) and its involvement in a know-how. It is the know-how — called the operation of multiplication — (and all its implied mental functionings) which requires that one operate in certain prescribed ways to change the given into “the answer.” What students recognize also, is that not all the knowledge of the tables is used in every operation but that the same know-how is called in (sometimes several times), in the unfolding of the process. Even if at school multiplication is classified as knowledge, the other words used tell people to know it as actually a know-how. Many people have failed to learn to read when their teachers believed they had to give their students knowledge of the alphabet or knowledge of sight words. There was no transfer of that knowledge and as a result a mystery was created around the happening of failure. Whenever the sensitivity of the teacher suggested attacking reading as a process, transfer took place and children or adults learned to read. General lack of sensitivity to the difficulty of the transfer of knowledge is still predominant in schools where teaching remains essentially the “transfer” of knowledge, but from the teacher to the student. When students acquire knowledge in such schools, the conclusion is generally that the approach works and that those who do not manage to “learn” must be labeled “learning-disabled,” leaving the approach free of reproaches. But if we stress the existence of failures by questioning whether knowledge can be transferred — and thus begin to relate to the challenge — we give ourselves a chance to discover the truth on this matter and can be of help to students. If it is true that know-hows are transferable and knowledge not, would it not be wiser to be concerned with a pedagogy centered on knowhows and not waste time (at least for a number of our students) using a pedagogy stressing the transmission of knowledge as if it were a transfer from those who know to those who do not?
1 Aspects Of Transfer
A field of research and development exists behind these few words; research, of what produces knowledge and whether it has attributes making its transfer possible; development of the proper techniques and materials which while ending up with people owning knowledge, are capable of ensuring transfer of what is transferable, whether it is knowhow or knowledge. In the following articles we come back to these problems.
2 Some Conditions For Transfer
Since we transfer so many know-hows in our spontaneous learning, mainly in early childhood, we can learn a great deal by remaining in contact with the learnings of that time and discover what we have to do to increase transfers. This we term conditions for transfer. In spontaneous early childhood learning, what strikes the observer is that children know what they are doing but that the observers do not. Does it mean that good learning happens mainly in an unaware environment because it leaves young children alone? Can we state then that two of the conditions for good transfers are: 1
that the learner be in close contact with himself; and
2 that no one else should be aware of what goes on? Perhaps point 2 requires this addition: so as not to interfere with the proper inner guidance one gives oneself. Together these two conditions lead us to the underlying one which explains the success of the first and the mystery of the second. Learning is effective because it is conscious. The self, aware of its presence and of its involvement in the task, goes on noticing the content of the activity and gives itself criteria which ensure that the inner hurdles have been overcome, that perception of the demands of the task triggers the proper interpretations and responses and that,
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when these responses are compared to the task, the feedback sanctions the shift of attention to another task. The presence of criteria in the mind is an objective end the self gives itself. Conscious learning is then equivalent to the proper formation of the proper criteria. In conscious learning the self is aware of its own presence. It does not have to tell anyone about it. It does not do it for any other reason than presence is required by the study of the task and its challenges. This cannot be seen from outside because it does not require much energy at all, and what we can easily observe are energy shifts. Effortlessness accompanies good learning. Though learning is done in smooth shifts, these lead to awareness of definite gains because what one could not do recently is now possible and manifested so that the self can note it and acknowledge it. Soon after that, another task is offered by the self to itself, mainly to test that the previous activity has led to mastery and has given the self a new instrument to forge ahead. It is this which is equivalent to transfer of learning and that forms a criterion. Hence, mastery is another condition of transfer. Criteria make mastery possible. Mastery confirms the existence of criteria. As more and more learning takes place, the self finds itself endowed with working know-hows which are connected to each other through integration, some subordinated to others as integrated wholes and recognized as powers capable of actions ordered by the self and serving the self. Their smooth workings are known to the self by the insignificance of the energy required to trigger them and to keep them going. The reader can illustrate all this seemingly abstract description, by giving himself the task of examining what happens when writing a paragraph on something well assimilated and that can come up spontaneously â€” like telling a friend in a letter about a pleasant recent experience. Any writer capable of observing himself will soon find that the writing of every word represents a definite task which is met by 10
2 Some Conditions For Transfer
criteria which are present now but have been separately acquired some time ago; that integrative schema are at work in the use of structures, spellings, agreements, meanings and their translations into selected words that affect each other and produce a whole generating approval by the self and in the self, about what is left in it as a retained whole, structured and organized to one’s satisfaction. Memory holds both a detailed track of what has been put down and a placement of this activity among all those which have been retained in one’s experience until now. But so much — which is also memory, but is unconscious — is present in the activity: all that which is now automatic and made of integrated know-hows of the physical writing, the subtle manual muscular movements in forming letters and words; the movement of the eyes looking at each, seeing each and passing each as being the one required; and looking again at a few words, within the foreground, the mind’s intention and sensing that one’s past experiences are providing the material needed, and on several planes. The plane of the content, the plane of the language used, the plane of the physical skill of writing, the plane of the concentrated integration of all this and more. Of course, writing a paragraph is merely an example suggested here because it is happening to the writer at this moment. But literally thousands of alternative examples are available for our scrutiny. Many will present themselves in the course of a day: in the shower; at the table eating; at the sink washing up; walking through one or more rooms or a few street blocks; talking on the telephone, etc. So much learning is all the time automatically transferred that if we want to pursue that study we shall only have an embarrassment of riches. In all the examples mentioned there are know-hows that can be transferred and no one can mistake them for knowledge. Even grammar and spelling are not knowledge, although we can occasionally see them as items we need to memorize. Know-hows in terms of skills represent mastered experience, but they do not guarantee that when applied to a new challenge there will not be need for a recast of the underlying components. To learn to use one’s hands, arms, back, legs, for playing a game like tennis, requires transfers of previous learnings and their rearrangements uniquely
Transfer Of Learning
suited to the new game. But each session on the court, being a new challenge, might require other transfers. And all this is within demands which can only be met in the here-and-now. The new learnings will absorb all oneâ€™s conscious attention, and the transfers, though essential, be overlooked. All this discussion brings forth again that the essential conditions for transfer are: existence of criteria and mastery. Babies know this so well that they aim all the time at giving themselves criteria and only enter a task for good when they see that it is for them and they stay in it until they reach mastery. From learning to use the nipple, to putting their thumbs in their mouths, to learning to sit, crawl, stand, walk, run, jump, climb, talk and speak and later to read and write, etc., they have again and again experienced insights into learning giving themselves triggers, criteria and know-hows which make transfer of learning second nature. This succession of masteries form larger masteries of integrated wholes available at the slightest call of the self. Such masteries carry with them the conditions for their transfer. Although every one of us has gone through such histories and has a vast experience of learning, most of us are unaware of what to do when entering new learnings. We accept that if someone told us what to do we would know faster how to do it. In our education we are â€œeducatedâ€? to consult written sources even in those areas where only direct experiences have effects, like in swimming, chess playing, or, nowadays, in the use of computers. An essential shift may happen to all of us if we give it back its place: i.e. encounter the unknown. Human learning can only be understood if we see it as caused by the need to let the unknown be known, and the true unknown is not what someone else knows that I do not know and which I could know if I were told. It is the result of the human condition, which is to be, in the world, in contact with the descending future whereas animals specialize in living their past. (For this, instincts are the answer and animal learning remains within their instincts, soon reaching completion.) 12
2 Some Conditions For Transfer
Man chose as his destiny to transcend instinctual behavior and is guided all through life by the need to know, i.e. to know what he does not know. Hence to live humanly is to let the unknown come to him, to let his future mold his actions, thoughts, aspirations. He is forced by his awareness of being human to be ready to change, to recast himself as his unregulated life demands. That is why knowledge becomes obsolete and education really means growth by transfer of learning within the law of integration and subordination. The self in contact with the future lets the new integrate the old by subordinating it to serve the encounter with the unknown.
3 Growth By Transfer Of Learning
We shall consider two aspects of this challenge. First, we want to understand the demands of the contact with the new, the unknown, and then to come to see how this contact, if made permanent, brings us to work on our ability to remain connected to the future and thus encounter a new set of human destinies. In passing we must perceive the possibility of putting to rest problems that only appear as insurmountable because we do not affect ourselves so as to let the lights of the future affect our vision. *** In the study of evolution we are forced to see two trends: one, which consumes the time — we have called that “horizontal evolution” — the other one, where time is not experienced as consumed or even present. The leap from one level of being to the next seems instantaneous and opens a new horizontal evolution which will again consume the time of one’s life. Horizontal evolution represents growth within an unfolding continuum of experiencing, each new experience adding to the previous ones and transforming them in the manner the law of integration and subordination demands. In one human life, it is easy to see that on at least four occasions we have embarked on horizontal evolutions which last about five years each. They are talked about in other terms, but have not escaped
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observers for millennia. Leaving aside the hidden growth in one’s mother’s womb (left to embryologists to study) we have all heard of infancy, childhood, adolescence and manhood or adulthood. We all know we allow years for each of them and see each of us get into one as we leave the other. Entering may be understood but leaving is not so easily understood. Perhaps the examination of our growth of learning will help in that understanding. Humans know themselves in-the-world and are affected by what goes on in it. But they also know themselves as having an inner life and as being unequally interested in all that goes on in the world. Humans can use their interests as guiding lights to enter into dialogues with the universes in which they and others find themselves. Every time they use those lightings they set into relief those aspects of life which matter to them, leaving in the dark or in a penumbra, others which then either do not affect them or affect them very little. To the adoption of some lightings we give the name of “absolutes” and there are equivalences between “living in an absolute,” “only being interested in this or that,” “being involved passionately in such or such activities” and some other similar expressions. According to their contribution to improved clarity in a study, one or the other is used. But we can let ourselves become accustomed to their co-presence in our minds for use in the proper settings. Absolutes have the advantage, upon interests, in that they can easily embrace large durations (like 5 years) but interests have an advantage in that they can be called in to understand pinpointedly, what actually happens in a very short event. Absolutes are qualifiers of horizontal evolutions and can be used to describe what happens psychologically to all of us in terms of simultaneously being totally involved in some aspect of life and totally ignoring all others. Within each absolute, transfers of learning seem to belong to each other since the aspect of the law of integration at work shows the self using all that has been done so far to let in a new element — one capable of being grasped because of the past — and replace some of the previous functions by new ones in the manner for 16
3 Growth By Transfer Of Learning
example of learning to walk which must integrate standing, though walking and standing are not the same. The universe created by perception becomes one we place outside ourselves so as to explore it. We make it exist for us, individually, and, for that, we use five years of our early childhood. During those years we live the absolute of perception and because of that have very special interests. Our horizontal evolution makes us value, above all, those activities which make us grow as masters of our means of perceiving energy movements within or without. The self concentrates on making itself sensitive to smaller and smaller energy variations, within oneâ€™s soma and in the fields of perception. All this can be considered as being transfers of learning since no one speaks of knowledge in such cases and all acknowledge the presence of functionings and of know-hows. Similarly, we spend five years or so in the absolute of action having new interests but as easily ignoring large chunks of human experience to come. After that, five more years in the absolute of affectivity are spent wanting to know all we can of the mysterious universe of emotions and feelings. These last two horizontal evolutions require all that time because of the immensity of the universes we enter and which must be known to make us free to take further steps and enter the universe of thought and the social universe, where the rest of our life is spent in our modern western civilization. Because it is easier to look at horizontal evolutions, humanity has accumulated much awareness of their content and libraries are full of the details of how we seem to spend our years in each of them. According to our absolute we find their content engrossing, fascinating, absorbing or totally unattractive, boring, a waste of our time. But because transcendence from one absolute to the other is much harder to study, there are far fewer testimonies available. Still we are concerned with transfers there too, even if the working of the law of integration and subordination takes another appearance in this context. What we want to know now is: how does one disengage oneself from one absolute and enters the next. 17
Transfer Of Learning
A first insight is found when contemplating the fully functional use of our past with which we are all so familiar. When we are born we all bring with ourselves a soma that at once serves all the purposes of extra-uterine life. Learning after birth will use all the mastered physiological functionings created during the previous months in one’s mother’s womb. The self concentrates on meeting the new with the existing instruments but the new functionings of, say, one’s lips, will become those to work on, either for sucking or later for uttering conscious and willed sounds. The self takes its previous work into account by taking it for granted. This relationship is the proper one for the self in evolution: what has been achieved is not to be related to in the manner needed to make it be. Instead, the self takes on the functions of the old within the next learning. Thus the future descends in the objectified self and this too will be taken for granted. Granted by the self to itself. But around oneself are all the other selves “doing their thing” too. Those who are in the same absolute show each other what can be comprehended although not yet objectified. Its immanence is experienced as a source of inspiration and the self proposes itself tasks suggested by the perception of what others can do and which oneself cannot yet do, but which can be interpreted. The existing intelligence at work in that absolute makes one throw oneself ahead into that which is still unknown to oneself but clearly not to others. The learning that follows provides possibilities for certain uses of oneself that will look both like practice sessions and as guessing what to do. The latter allows mistakes to be considered part of the acts of learning, and at first gives occasions for discarding the useless and for maintaining the valid. From outside it is called “trial and error.” From inside it is the inevitable, necessary, way of entering the unknown. This we all know well for having done it countless times. Proper learning makes room for errors and mistakes and knows their functionality. The self can assess progress all the time by the reduction of the number of errors. The perception by the learner of some sort of “finished product” in the activity of others, guarantees that the successful end exists and justifies
3 Growth By Transfer Of Learning
one’s involvement in going beyond where one is now. While the self knows mastery and moves towards it, it also knows that it must get beyond where it now is and that the road ahead is not yet charted. Hence the self transfers stress from using what one knows to throwing oneself into that which is barely grasped. Only total collapse in such trials will suggest abandoning subsequent attempts. Any faint feedback that one’s movement is in the right direction will spur one’s energy towards keeping its mobilization on the task. This is experienced as enthusiasm, goodwill, determination or any of the numerous affective elements that accompany human learning. In one’s inner life one can feel uplifted, suggesting the verticality of one’s evolution at that stage. The sense of adventure associated with such movements is also felt as present. The contact with the new tells, that then one human is meeting the indefiniteness of the future and is preparing oneself for the awareness that to leave behind all one did is only a shift in awareness, that nothing will be lost, no more than the soma has been lost after birth. On the contrary, the growing past is experienced as growth in power, letting one be more oneself, because one can use the past instrumentally to forge ahead. The sense of power comes with a sense of freedom, freedom to do now what one could not do so far, but in relation to what one is and what one has done until now. Each moment is like being at a fork with choices soliciting one’s energy and it is that which will consume one’s time. Contact with permanent choices as the tenor of one’s life, feeds back the feeling of freedom but also that one’s life will ultimately be only a small fraction of what one is potentially endowed to become. Hence, our commonest experience is one of movement away from each moment to let the next one be. When this becomes the center of our awareness we have learned both to live the moment and to see how — by letting the future descend — we make the present the locus of our transcendence which integrates our past. Now the true meaning of this past is to let the future of ours be and not what our memory suggests it should be. A multitude of instances may serve that awareness, but the momentum of life proposes the contents of what we are with consciously. This may be entering new activities, and through their entertainment, to find ourselves in another and new absolute.
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There too, the abstract process is repeated, and inspiration, momentum, activity, consumption of time, involvement, interest, etc. dominate our perception of our engaged selves. This makes possible our missing awareness of transcendence and the welcoming of the descending future. We still need to learn to transfer our attention to the more subtle inner movements which put us, and keep us, in contact with the new that is happening to us. From transfer of learning we are now led to learn to transfer and to reach what it is we are transferring. Before we involve ourselves in this examination, let us recognize that while the reality around us is of a multitude of humans living their own lives, in their own ways, sometimes aware of others, sometimes aware of themselves, our inner lives are all we can go by when we attempt to understand anything that happens to us. It is in our dialogues with ourselves, in the calm of silent meditation that we permit ourselves insights into what we do and, more deeply, what we are. And this is not a predetermined “are,” given by outer, greater powers or conditioned by DNA, environment and circumstances. It is a changing, a moving, being attempted — partially consciously — to reach oneself and one’s dynamics and trying to be fair to as many components as are intervening at every moment of life so as to let truth prevail. If we know ourselves as never finished, never completed, never fully knowing and knowable, we can create the inner climate which checks panic, fear, exaggerated reactions and responses, and gives ourselves a chance of being ourselves in actuality. With this goes a grasp of absolutes which makes all those around us so much more acceptable because they are so much better understood. Coupled with the proper imagination, it makes us able to assist in the descent of the collective future centered on evolution and relativity, now seen as a single entity.
4 Learning To Transfer
By transferring know-hows we prove we know how to transfer. Still, all our transfers are known only blended with the concrete substances we are working on. Exceptionally, do we manage to separate them and reach transfer per se. So, in general we rarely think that to learn to transfer means to go deeply into ourselves and to be with the dynamics, independent of the concomitant substance. This search, once undertaken, reveals to us aspects of man that allow us â€” 1
to get entries into what the guides of humanity have been doing on its behalf for millennia although still so little understood, and
2 to intuit the human revolution of our time that is going on around us, clumsily, in the many thrusts that are shattering all our values and all the foundations of our grasp of who we are and what we are here for, but also offering us unique opportunities to renew ourselves radically so that we deserve another future than that which the echoes of the daily events on the planet arouse. We have been told by all our true guides â€” still kept alive among us by our dedication to their messages â€” that unless we change radically our relation to ourselves we shall labor in vain. In symbolic terms they have shown some paths. When we reach their meaning we become, in our own eyes, capable of going our own way
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without their help, and we join what has been called “The Community of Saints” in one of these paths, “The Prophets” in another, and in another “The Bodhisattvas” all directly related to the fountain-head, the source of our source. But reaching the meaning was hazardous and not many managed it in the successive generations. For the “elected few” it became vital to “know thyself.” The others lived in doubt or with some glimpses, those glimpses which maintained the hope. Nowadays it is not hope that moves us. It is necessity. Unless we withdraw from the world or commit suicide, we are challenged every day by the need to make sense of that which cannot be reduced to what has been already stored in us. Consciously or subconsciously, the intricacies of living our life in the manner we did, have produced a fabric with which we ordinarily identify. We are challenged, not only by what happens around us, and what happens to us, but by what we have made of ourselves and the very numerous involvements of ours from the moment of our conception on. We cannot minimize our participation in making the fabric — to which we alone have access in part or in its entirety — which, in addition to the content of our memory, includes our volitions, our aspirations, our attempts at realizing ourselves, in one world, our self and therefore its dynamics as well as its objectivations Knowing oneself is knowing one’s self at work and in its productions. Knowing oneself identified and knowing how identification takes place, gives us the chance to intervene first in the process of identification and then, when we know how to be on top of it, to revise the identifications which already took place. This is one way of learning to transfer — through the presence of the self — the energies of previous presences done in previous circumstances without, at that time, the self’s awareness of its presence and its role. We use the words “learning to transfer energies” because, to generate existence the self objectifies energy into the substitutes for the time consumed and these substitutes are integrated in the fabric.
4 Learning To Transfer
But, according to the level reached by our present awareness, energy can take different appearances and forms. From the psychosomatic appearances, accessible from outside, to the subtlest “nothings,” that generally escape even one’s self. In a world that is becoming conscious of nothings and of the huge consequences of individual acts which may follow a very small action — such as pressing on a trigger, or of letting an idea dominate one’s perception of what to do with oneself at a certain moment — we can expect that we have a choice of learning to transfer in ourselves the little that will make all the difference. Learning to transfer thus becomes part of collective evolution. As soon as we see that it is no longer to be left to chance that some individual becomes vulnerable to receiving, or not, the intimation to take inner steps — in a certain direction and helped by some source of inspiration — and instead, collectively sense that we must all give up previously held positions and ideas, give up identifying with anything that places a ceiling on us, we leave the old horizontal evolution and enter a higher level. Today, this pull from above and beyond, is experienced everywhere and by more and more people. The transition requires that we give transfer a place we did not conceive of when we only looked at transfer of learning. Learning to transfer, at this juncture, means for everyone, giving humanity a new dimension and opening a new civilization for all the inhabitants of the earth, compatible with the emerging universalizations, at the scale of the planet, of every one of the components of life. Under our own eyes we are seeing peace, economics, security, health, ecology become a single challenge for all earthians. The necessity of thinking, acting, projecting, etc. in terms of one future for all of us, is no longer a gift or a privilege. It is sheer necessity and, willy nill; we shall bow to it. At first, perhaps compelled and grudgingly, but soon knowing it as the only common sense answer, and welcoming it because of that. As education begins to be seen for what it is, i.e. —
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the instrument of human evolution, and
2 the set of processes that make every human know what evolves in him, learning to transfer will become as conscious an act as we can make it. In so far as we knew how to transfer learning so as to equip everyone during the successive absolutes with all the skills and know-hows desirable and desired by every individual, we now have to master how to make everyone learn to transfer awareness to all those challenges which will become, when met, the content of the coming civilization. From the awkwardness of the first contacts with the descending future we now experience, to the many masteries required by that universe, transfer will generate the successes of the next horizontal evolution, which will aim at making the earth a human environment shot through with awareness. Caleb Gattegno
1 The teacher’s guide for Visible and Tangible The teacher’s guide for Visible and Tangible Math appeared in early November. A onehundred plus page guide, it does a job users of the computer courseware may find complementary to the actual running of the successive programs. Closely interrelated to the unfolding of module after module, it avoids taking teachers’ place in the same manner teachers are asked not to take their students’ place. Whenever there is need for clarification of the background of thinking which led to giving such and such a form to a particular program or module, the guide provides it. Occasionally, reference to historical research, to traditions in mathematics education and to psychological or pedagogical reasons, for what is suggested in the courseware, is found in the text, but then it is brief and to the point. The text was conceived as part of a report on the whole project and required by the agreement on the grant by the National Science Foundation. As the report became too large this part was seen as a step by step guide for users of such a large courseware of ten disks. Hence, its publication as a teacher’s guide only left for the complete report matter which teachers do not need for the effective use of the program in their own teaching setup. Ten copies were produced. To order one of them send $25.00.
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2 Infused Reading, Spanish Infused Reading, Spanish a microcomputer courseware and Notes for users. On a few occasions in the last three years we reported on the computer version of Infused Reading. We can today add a certain number of remarks. •
We now have a seven part disk which can be gone through in two hours and guarantee literacy in Spanish for Spanish-speaking illiterates and provide a most acceptable flow of words for new students of that language.
The first part is actually the computer version of the original project of 1972 to which the name Infused Reading was given because it seemed to have the power of making illiterates into literates (in this case in Spanish) without any effort on the part of the natives. Let us call T, the text used in this part.
The next four parts serve as tests. Teachers of reading would not accept that the task of learning to read is as simple and easy as it appears to us. They want to get a proof and these segments of the disk purport to provide it. •
Test 1 proposes a sequence of twenty-four randomized strings of words extracted from T. A certain speed of display of that sequence will permit observers to tell whether the ability acquired with T can be transferred to recognizing sections of the text by just looking at them and being triggered to utter the proper and appropriate sounds. No two sequences would offer the same order since there are 24! (This huge number is equal to 1×2×3×…×22×23×24) such permutations and only one was selected to make T.
Test 11 is the same as 1 except that it runs faster on the computer. We are therefore testing here in addition to ability to decode and run words together, speed of reading.
Test 2 is a new text, T’ related to T in that quite a number of the twenty-four phrases above have been incorporated in it. There are new words but not many. The contents of T’ is displayed on the screen in
phrases helping in comprehension and challenging the act of reading at a certain speed. •
Test 2’ is the speeded up version of 2. It seems to us that anyone who can pass such tests can be certified literate, even if no other text is read spontaneously.
But we want to take two or more steps on behalf of the skeptics. •
Further Readings are proposed as two texts T1 and T2. T1 has very few words in common with T or T’. It is essentially a new text. T2 is also new but it is displayed at a slightly greater speed than T1.
We suggest to anyone who needs further convincing to propose to the new literates who have gone through the contents of this disk to select texts from newspapers and magazines that do not require specialized knowledge or vocabulary and ask them to read them. *** 3 Infused Reading for French & English Infused Reading for French & English have been started. They represent a sizable job and may take some time to be completed. As they become available on disk we shall inform our readers. 4 The following is extracted from a letter from the Language Teaching Research Center in Korea. “Mrs. Mintz wishes me to add that she will write soon and give you a progress report on how things are going with the video series. The English language classes are now in their second term: some students have been using the tapes for some 2½ months now: others have just begun. Since our terms run for eight weeks, those who wished to continue the series had to re-enroll to do so. Mrs. Mintz is happy to say that the re-enrollment rate for the Silent Way video classes was higher than that for all the English language classes at the Center as a whole.” Jungja Ha, Director Korean Language Program
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Summary of six busy weeks this fall â€˘
The Phoenix weekend seminar October 22nd - 24th. Organized by the State of Arizona, Department of Education, for the benefit of their language teachers of adults. It was offered free to the participants, who registered in large numbers (186 before the workshop took place). Even after some defection on Saturday and Sunday, there were more than 100 people at the last sessions. Dr. Gattegno was the leader at this workshop. The format had been agreed in advance and consisted in a 4-hour Friday evening session on human learning in general and specially of languages; four demonstration lessons that were followed by a feedback session each, from 9 till 6 on Saturday and on Sunday, a study of English the Silent Way from 9 through 6 with exercises for teaching beginners, intermediate, advanced and very advanced students. The last hour on Sunday was given to a general feedback and evaluation of the gains if any. Such varied programs of the workshop suited well the variety of concerns of the participants who found it an exhilarating and valuable experience. The lessons were Arabic (in the morning of Saturday), Greek (in the early afternoon) and Russian (later). Two groups took Arabic, one Greek and one Russian involving about eighty participants in all as students. The three lessons started with the Sound/Color Fidels and while it took some time to conquer the first one, it was much easier for the second and still more for the third. The usual spectacular feats were demonstrated this time again. The flow of words in each of the languages was at once very good although no one heard any speaker of the language say anything. This success, in spite of the absence of a model, convinced skeptics that the Silent Way has to offer at least a better way to a respectable pronunciation. But when comprehension took place and students managed to retain much without drill and repetition, it became clear that the approach was based on scientific facts 28
unsuspected by traditional teachers. The teacher dared more and more and the students responded more and more to the simultaneous delight and amazement of the audience. In the second and third lessons two non-Latin scripts appeared and the class took to each more easily than to the first, (Arabic) which is recognizably difficult but had been decoded thanks to the colors and copied with ease and excitement as drawings by those who were asked to do it. Imagine progress being done when one lesson follows the other but the first language is replaced by another. Most preconceptions were tumbled. This added to the healthy enthusiasm of the workshop participants and made possible an increase in momentum. â€˘
Two weeks later a similar program was unfolded with a much smaller group in Seattle and two weeks after that in Portland. In Seattle, one participant flew in from Minneapolis and five came down by road from Vancouver, British Columbia, many teach refugees and all were keen to learn something to use on the following Monday. Since human learning is so vast, the Friday eveningâ€™s general studies could be very different from each other and still as helpful and to the point. Because the national position on learning in the United States is the outcome of a behavioristic approach to it most people found it difficult to believe that so much of what all go through in early childhood had escaped their attention and that of their guides and mentors. But the evidence is there and inescapably the lighting is changed from looking from outside to looking from inside. Awareness is then a welcome instrument of study which yields at once a remarkably rich crop.
In Portland, one participant flew in from Los Angeles and the rest were local people; five of them teaching other languages 29
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than English. This whole group was more moved by the study of English than by the lessons from the learning of three languages in one day, although this seemed a priori crazy and impossible. The stress during that weekend was more explicitly on the subordination of teaching to learning and it’s implementation in practice. The usual shock of the diminished role of memorization and the paradoxical increase of retention, here too served as a booster for joy in learning and hope in the future of language studies. •
Educational Solutions Inc. is a very small corporation even if it does great things in quantity. So, there is always something new to involve our staff. Recently the new thing was selling the Math Mini-Tests nationwide. A few years ago, when the Reading Mini-Tests were marketed, a number of the academic staff, the consultants — some of whom had contributed to their writing and production — went out to visit schools and school district offices to introduce the kits. Some were able to secure a fair number of sales. Most did not like to function as “salespersons” though they recognized that there was need to generate a market when a business is producing expensive materials of high quality. The Reading Mini-Tests were a success and their sales contributed to keeping our company going. When the Math Mini-Tests were produced at a considerable investment of funds, time, energy and know-how, we found ourselves having a needed product for which there was a ready market nationwide, but no salespeople. It meant that all of us had to begin to give our energies to a sales effort that would make our product known. Crosscountry telephone calls in large numbers, numerous packages of materials for review sent out by different means — including express air mail for next day delivery — school visits in some areas whenever it was
possible, and finally long-distance trips for conferences with school district testing officers and math advisers or consultants; all had to be considered and then arranged. Learning to be a salesman for this product — at least for Dr. Gattegno — was not easy. He had always known that at one time or another we all need to “sell” whenever we have something to offer that is unusual and requires a change of attitude on the part of some educators. He knew himself already as a very successful salesman in the case of Cuisenaire rods, which he managed to get adopted very widely in the world. He was less successful with reading in color and animated geometry, but still the results were sufficiently good for him to feel that these products also sold themselves once the public knew about them and did not represent a truly difficult sales challenge. The Silent Way has been solely disseminated by word of mouth from those who took workshops and then used the approach. It has reached teachers everywhere in less than 15 years. What the Math Mini-Tests required was for Dr. Gattegno to meet the challenge of needs he had never experienced before, but with which most school people in the United States have grown up — namely achievement test-taking and test-giving. The importance of these tests escaped him at first and he had to create from scratch a new sensitivity, not only to the practice, but also for the states of mind people had developed toward it. Thus the first few times he presented the Math Mini-Tests he felt utterly inadequate and found himself only saying things not worth saying since they could be picked up much better by reading the leaflets provided by the company. Rather than give up and leave that job to others, Dr. Gattegno began his education as a salesperson by asking himself how he could evoke in his audience (of 1, 5, 30 or 50 educators) an insight into this product which has other qualities besides offering an adequate preparation
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for one of the seven major standardized achievement tests used in the Nation. He found that he needed about a dozen trials to give him the evidence that he was improving as a presenter of what he knew so thoroughly but was not known at all by his audiences. Dr. Gattegno found that he could explain the notion of a “Starter” which appears in both the Reading and the Math Mini-Tests as the name for a sheet which would take students from the definition of a task to its mastery. In contrast to the achievement tests which may challenge students with up to 16 different tasks on one page, the Starters concentrate on only one. Sometimes even more than one Starter will be needed to lead to the required mastery on one broader topic: for example, rounding off numbers or reading graphs. But Starters relate to the students’ needs by going slowly though thoroughly over a certain ground, assuming just enough know-how yet taking nothing for granted. In each kit from the third grade up there are two Starters whose topic is specialized test-taking strategies. Besides the Starters, the kits contain two other types of sheets which educators understand at once. Those called Practice Tests bring together on one sheet several different topics studied through several different starters, as is done in the achievement tests. The other type of sheet we label at present with the fashionable term “management,” because they are used to record much useful information about the students’ progress toward the mastery of test-taking skills needed to meet the challenge of the formal tests. Because we found that very often more assistance is needed by students to cope with subject matter which has been badly assimilated through regular math lessons, we took the opportunity to prepare sheets which took care of such weaknesses, but do so on the whole by avoiding the
approaches dictated by tradition. These sheets are called Basic Starters. They give us a chance to help students beyond the limits of what is considered preparation for test-taking. The Basic Starters are the original contribution of Dr. Gattegno to the teaching of mathematics. They display what is dear to his heart — a proper understanding of one aspect of the economics of education — since “they never ask students to pay more than is required in time and effort, to master a particular subject matter.” In the case of mathematics this is summed up as — •
extracting from a given problem what clearly belongs to an indefinite number of similar examples,
considering all these possible extensions,
presenting a little and finding a lot which corresponds. Working with the Basic Starters will meet needs of newcomers by giving them good working tools, and of confused students by making sense of essential procedures they have missed. When meeting with groups of administrators, Dr. Gattegno considers first the three type of sheets needed to develop testwise-ness. Then he presents the fourth type (the Basic Starters) — which is part of the Complete Kits for Grades 1-5, or the Remedial Kits for Grades 7-12 — that provides a wiser way for teachers to use students’ time to reach mathematical competence through continuous mastery. It now seems so far that this approach to selling meets the needs of school district leadership and teachers while it allows the salesperson to meet the challenge of selling Mini-Tests.
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From Europe •
Bob Braithwaite and his team in Barcelona are making an effort of letting interested people in Spain, Europe and beyond, know what they are doing to keep people informed on their activities related to the subordination of teaching to learning. In addition, they participate in seminars and workshops outside Spain even if these are in French which for several, is not yet a very familiar language. This effort is valuable to all involved so as to develop intergroup communication taking us together closer to the day when students of all ages everywhere will benefit more from the time they spend at their studies.
In Paris, at the Expolangues Conference of January 28th - February 2nd, a number of groups from Barcelona, Bescançon, Bristol, Geneva, Lyon, New York, Paris, Reading, will make possible the appearance of a stand devoted to “the subordination of teaching to learning” in the field of foreign languages, or the Silent Way. In the February issue we shall report on the exhibition and the groups’ participation.
Dr. Gattegno’s seminars, in Paris (one weekend on “Nothings”) and in Geneva (four evenings on the Silent Way and one weekend on “Memory brought fairly large groups together and can be characterized as successful in so far as everyone worked seriously and intensely and left charged enough to continue work later.
In Geneva, during the day from Monday to Thursday the morning was given to teaching two adolescent classes mathematics while math teachers observed and met — in seminar — in the afternoons on four occasions for two hours to study the lessons. This was an experiment which was considered valuable enough to request a replica next year with pre-adolescent students. The Paris seminar included a number of people who had been in Aix en Provence for the 11-day workshop on “Nothings,” but more were meeting the notion for the 34
first time. Hence Friday sessions were used to prepare the group for the main job of the seminar which was to find which uses of “Nothings” can help us in our everyday living. That study seemed useful more to those familiar with “Nothings” than to the newcomers who needed what came afterwards to become clearer. Although people find puzzling that anyone would want to study “Nothings” — but intrigued enough to meet the expenses of registration and for quite a number, of travel — they also found themselves deeply involved at once. This new field of study soon becomes an instrument that allows closer examination of many difficult and often stressful involvements of oneself in one’s social, professional but also personal inner life. The most rewarding concerns one’s prejudices and preconceptions which stand in one’s way to feeling adequate to meeting the inner challenges found in oneself and in those immediately surrounding one. At one stage, participants were asked to select the hardest challenge they were facing at that time in their present life. Once they did this, exercises were suggested to bring them closer to what did become — for some at least — the dissolution of the heaviness, stress, anxiety that surrounded the challenge. Of course, only those working on their problem knew which it was and no one was asked to tell others. Thus the suggestions which were to apply to 50 or so different and unknown challenges could only be couched in most general and comprehensive terms. The miracle is that these were made effective by each individual working on his own and acknowledged at the feedback session as “the nothing that did it.” So, indeed “Nothings” could help once one became aware of their existence and their power. Reference to this session was made later and more than once. Because it is possible to use language for what it is and leave room to each to fill the meaning personally, the “Nothings” involved in
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the very general statements served as receptacles for what people poured into them. In addition, the dynamics triggered by the worlds were, like the triggers, acknowledged to be “Nothings” but also to be powerful. The method of work in these seminars is well-suited for such studies and many commented on the wealth taken away from the contents of the sessions although really only “Nothings” had been considered. “Nothings” did seem important and with a future. The Geneva seminar on “Memory and Forgetfulness” (la Mémoire et les Oublis) had three phases: the Friday and Sunday meetings were experienced mostly as exciting and helpful, the Saturday sessions as difficult and even painful. These last sessions were concerned with pinpointing at the relationships of the self and its objectivations, the dynamics that produce the letter and are among them and how all this can be grasped by anyone using awareness and other attributes of the self as instruments. However excited and engrossed in these subtle and complex matters the seminar leader was, his state did not seem to be appreciably contagious and most likely very few got as much as these long hours of concentration could have offered. Fortunately, the time spent on Friday in the introduction which served to know what the 80 individuals present thought memory was and that forgetting is more helpful than successful retaining in knowing memory dynamically, served also to sustain people in their travels across the intellectual deserts (as they seemed to them) of Saturday. The greatest lesson of the seminar was again how the obvious escapes. Of course, here, the most obvious is that each of us can become aware of the self that is oneself. 36
How difficult it is to reach one’s self has to be acknowledged but since we speak of “t” all the time, why is it the “t” can be aware of so much but not of itself? No doubt the reasons are: •
familiarity which has the power of not letting us feel the need of relating to it consciously, and
the smallness of the energy of the self as compared to all the other energies it becomes involved with,
the distractions which make us put our attention on everything else when we are awake, and
our inability to use what happens in sleep adequately.
The Geneva study of Memory brought out significant matters while keeping the mystery untouched. After 53 years of conscious involvement on its study (his first essay on it dates back to 1929) Dr. Gattegno could not offer more than a whole set of problems and no real answer to what it is. Our ignorance of it will always remain with us although our acquaintance with it can grow considerably. It is through this deeper acquaintance that we come out with more questions. Every time we find a fertile track and a good instrument more of the challenge is revealed and we feel more involved in its study. For instance forgetting is a useful instrument for, without it we would not be challenged but when it happens we feel forced to come closer to the dynamics of recall and remembering. But the key problem remains: where must one go to get to grips with the functionings of memory when it works. The findings include besides forgetting, dreams, the various learnings we involve ourselves in, our sleep and our past, the various fields, selective forgetting in particular circumstances and the return to consciousness of forgotten items.
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The seminar appeared to most as a milestone in the study of oneself. 6 We just received from Ms. Barbara Mintz this report and we thought it of interest to our readers in addition to Ms. Ha’s item #4 above. “Here is an as-brief-as-possible progress report on the English video series. Because of the way we structure our terms — 75-minute-a-day classes, five days a week, for an eight week term— I had to plan a threeterm sequence for the video tapes. We started with students who enrolled for our lowest level classes during the September-October term. Our class sizes range from twelve to twenty-four. Students are also free to stop the tape, repeat whatever they wish, etc. — in short, to follow the suggestions in the Manual. We present one thirty-minute video lesson a day followed by/or interspersed with student practice (Fidels, word charts, rods) in very small groups. The classrooms are equipped with small tables where groups of two, three or four students may work together. Students may re-arrange the tables into any grouping they wish. (I borrowed the small table idea from Tom Pendergast. It works well.) To introduce students to the video series, we made a short VTR presentation in Korean — derived from the Manual’s suggestions. We present the intro tape at the first class meeting of each term and hand out copies of the talk at the end of class. (Mrs. Ha is our TV star.) I began using the tapes with a class in August and also began intensive (sometimes intense) teacher training then. All the teachers who were going to begin using the series in September resisted the idea or were at least very unsure of it because, I think, they were uncertain of their students’ reactions to such a “radical” approach and unsure of themselves, a couple even to the point of feeling threatened about what they had thought was their role as teachers. These included some who thought they were following your principles as well as they had understood them. A couple claimed that they could “get the same results” in a much shorter length of time than the tapes seemed to show. The September term began, then, with a lot of reservations by 38
most of the teachers who felt insecure. Their insecurity continued for about a month until they saw that the students were indeed responding. Preparing other teachers for the second term — which began in November — was much easier. These people had the advantage of being able to watch our students respond in the classroom. In addition, one of the teachers from the first term who had been resistant has become its more ardent advocate because of how he sees our students responding and developing in the classroom. Teacher training continues this term extensively but not as intensely as the first term. We find, however, some teachers who are still reluctant or unaware of when or how to “let go.” We’re working on it with them. It was very gratifying that the Silent Way video classes re-enrollment rate for the second term was good as Ms. Ha’s letter stated. We have had a few students who resist learning this way. Most of them were people who had been placed in the wrong class level because they had not adhered to our registration procedures carefully. A couple of others simply could not tune in. Reactions like these do not distress me since we have them from a few students every term who can’t adjust to our generally non-traditional approach to language learning in all our classes. We also have students who come early to class or stay late to practice with each other without a teacher. These make us very happy. I am patiently waiting for our second term students to continue through the third term to see their development. Also, by the end of the third term, some of our teachers will have been through the entire (well, most of the) video series. Since they will then be familiar with the video lessons, we can begin using them for remedial work, as you suggested, in our upper level classes. As a bare outline of what we’re doing, this will have to do. Fascinating things happen every day in the classrooms.”
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7 I have been entrusted by the Rosebud Educational Society in South Dakota I have been entrusted by the Rosebud Educational Society in South Dakota to prepare the classroom materials for one of the native languages of the region: the Lakota. A few months ago I agreed and started to work on it when I received documentation from the contractants. Since I have worked on a number of languages over the last 25 years (but never much on a native American one) I had two tasks: 1
to reach the special features of this group of languages, and
2 to use all I have learned in those years to make the task manageable for me. Today I can say I moved on both fronts and I believe to have created materials that will ease considerably the entry into the language and allow a good Silent Way teacher to take classes at the beginning, intermediate and advanced levels to respectable points in their study in a relatively short time. A priori, I knew that the creators of languages put into them their perceptions of themselves and of how they relate to their inner and outer worlds. I also knew that as humans in contact with their awarenesses they cannot fail to notice that they need to find means of expressing themselves in a consistent and minimally ambiguous manner saving time for all and avoiding chances of making hearers forget what they heard by reducing as much as possible the reference to memory. Thus, finding criteria is essential and their passing to others as well. Speakers of Lakota must know how to transmute their awarenesses of space, time and relationships of all sorts, into stable sounds, stresses, combinations which consistently refer to these frames which trigger meaning. And conversely how to transmute perceived meanings into strings of sounds. With this in mind, I managed to catch what I call â€œthe spirit of the languageâ€? which needs to be transmitted from the start to beginners so that whenever they utter something natives understand it as they
would if said to each other. However little is passed on to the newcomers it must be given that quality. As these progress by adding new sounds, new combinations, and new functions for old words, this attribute of the learning becomes: general mastery, resulting from successive masteries. In a future issue, the testing of the materials in the Dakotas will be reported. Caleb Gattegno
About Caleb Gattegno Caleb Gattegno is the teacher every student dreams of; he doesnâ€™t require his students to memorize anything, he doesnâ€™t shout or at times even say a word, and his students learn at an accelerated rate because they are truly interested. In a world where memorization, recitation, and standardized tests are still the norm, Gattegno was truly ahead of his time. Born in Alexandria, Egypt in 1911, Gattegno was a scholar of many fields. He held a doctorate of mathematics, a doctorate of arts in psychology, a master of arts in education, and a bachelor of science in physics and chemistry. He held a scientific view of education, and believed illiteracy was a problem that could be solved. He questioned the role of time and algebra in the process of learning to read, and, most importantly, questioned the role of the teacher. The focus in all subjects, he insisted, should always be placed on learning, not on teaching. He called this principle the Subordination of Teaching to Learning. Gattegno travelled around the world 10 times conducting seminars on his teaching methods, and had himself learned about 40 languages. He wrote more than 120 books during his career, and from 1971 until his death in 1988 he published the Educational Solutions newsletter five times a year. He was survived by his second wife Shakti Gattegno and his four children.
Published on Nov 10, 2009