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The Economics Of Education An Alternative View

Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc.

Caleb Gattegno


vol. XII no. 2

February 1983

First published in 1983. Reprinted in 2009. Copyright Š 1983-2009 Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc. Author: Caleb Gattegno All rights reserved ISBN 978-0-87825-312-8 Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc. 2nd Floor 99 University Place, New York, N.Y. 10003-4555

So long as the word “economics” evokes exchange of goods and services measured in units of money, our understanding of the challenges can only be answered by politicians and administrators, by suppliers and professional associations. For some time it has been known that time is money and today services are paid for at the rate of so much per hour. Whenever institutions — like states or governments at any level — wanted to induce people to become more competent, they offered financial rewards. As a result most people regard the economics of education as the responsibility of those outside the schools who run the systems. If a government is poor its public education will lack all sorts of needed supports. If taxpayers revolt and less money is available, the schools can only deteriorate and everybody understands that. Only if the economy is booming can education receive the boost it needs for its improvement. Now that the funds are drying, perhaps it is time to allow a neglected component to enter the picture and measure its impact. To the presentation of an alternative view to the economics of education we devote this issue hoping that it will be read and studied, for, it may make a real difference in our world of today where a growing paralysis of inventiveness is experienced in all layers and quarters. That we can improve our lot independently of appropriations — even if that has always been known by a few — needs to be known by all, for all strive to become conscious of where they can improve their personal lot and how. News items complete the issue.

Table of Contents

1 If Time Is Money, What Is It Buying Now? ......................... 1 2 Exchanging One’s Time For One’s Experience ................... 7 3 Public Time And Human Time .........................................15 4 A Brief Sampling Of Some Of The Economies Of Education ................................................ 25 News Items ......................................................................... 33

1 If Time Is Money, What Is It Buying Now?

Not all of us are aware that our time is truly our wealth, the basis of all sources of other wealths such as skills, know-hows, knowledge, earnings. This is not a needed awareness at the beginning of life because we manage it so well, but at one stage — for some, around adolescence, for others, much later — we suddenly discover that we do not manage our time intelligently. When this happens we may find a proper remedy but often we do not. Such an awareness is a necessary condition for finding the remedy, but not a sufficient one. Much searching is needed, and may be a collective study of how to use one’s time for the best meeting of one’s ideals, purposes, intentions and immediate ends. This issue of our Newsletter is dedicated to a contribution to this searching. *** In my ost-adolescence someone said to me that in the city of London — the financial center of the world at the time — people said: “Time is money.” The connotation being that for financial people to waste their time was equivalent to wasting money. But for me it took another meaning. Since I had no money and at that time was not particularly interested in making any, my stress was on the value of time. Was time, the time of my life, my wealth? and what did that mean?


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Long meditations on that theme followed, some of which are integrated in this writing. In 1923-24, I heard of the ruin of many Germans when their postwar economy collapsed in a terrible inflation. There was talk also then of all the losses in France when the government after 1919 could not honor the national debt contracted with its citizens and the government bonds lost their gold value, adding to the loss represented by the Soviet cancellation of the debts for the bonds issued by the Tsarist regime and which then were being used as wallpaper. The 1929 Wall Street crack and the long economic depression which followed, made money a much less tangible entity, rather it became an elusive concept replaced in most minds by an inoperative one since, as a concept, it triggered blurring emotions and no longer showed its intellectual purity. I knew how to sell some of my time to people who wanted to acquire some skills that I happen to own and paid me per hour to be their tutor. If I sold enough hours to pay for my board, for the purchase of some essential books and for some travel, I knew that when I found purchasers of my time, time became equivalent to money. But when for a few hours of tutoring I made enough to buy precious books — which for their contents to be made my own took many times these hours — I saw money as not equivalent to what I could get from my time. The equation “time is money” (turned around as “money is time”) became a source of confusion requiring more concentrated attention. Earlier, in the summer of 1920, I became aware for the first time of the sequence of days as such and the structuring of “public time” into the numerous layers studied by geographers, astronomers and social investigators. Such a distinct awareness of calendars, seasons and climate, religious festivals, school terms and holidays etc. became a deepening receptacle in which I put many things in the years that followed; to this day. At the end of that decade of the 20’s my studies in the Theory of Relativity and of the many books on time that were being published — on top of Proust’s novels and the works of Bergson, Freud and the Historian Materialists — gave to time a central place in all my thinking. 2

1 If Time Is Money, What Is It Buying Now?

But it did not mean that I had a satisfactory answer for anything that mattered to me then. In 1949, I had promised Piaget to translate his book on the child’s conception of time after I finished two others of his I was translating; one on symbolism and one on number. When I came to it I told Piaget that I did not think I would keep my promise for he had not brought any light on the challenges I saw in the field and that the second part of his book was even not worthy of being read. Although I had already perceived that one way in which I could get hold of my grasp of time was to attend to its uses personally and do the best I could with it, I only formulated it in general terms satisfactory to me when I heard myself say in 1950: “to live is to exchange time into experience.” Of course, there are four mysteries lumped-together in that statement perhaps creating more challenges than I seem to meet, but I found great peace and a permanent inspiration in the conjunction of these four terms which sustain each other and helped me sort many things out. At least I saw that the fleeting property of time gained a consistency when experience was encountered as having an energy content which made it more accessible and gave it a paradoxical property: it became retrievable in the form of memory instead of being gone forever as public time is. Clearly every day each of us sees time exchanged for experience, more so if we choose to illustrate the exchange by taking the example of learning a new subject, or seeing a movie or reading a newspaper or a novel. But the exchange has to become conscious in order to be able to say that one then lives and this is a matter which lets in values, preconceptions, prejudices and much more which opens the door to confusion, to argumentation, confrontation and to obscurity. The emperor Titus, we are told, used to ask every day before going to bed: “Have I used my time well?” How many among us lament having reached such and such an age and have so little to show for the time that had thus been consumed? 3

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Even if no one has a recipe for the best use of one’s time, it is possible to find criteria which make living the exchange of time for experience and even to add: for the proper experience. To this we all bring different meanings, as it should be in the case of a humanity made up of individuals aware of their uniqueness. Artists know that the time they gave to working produced their works of art. Whether they could sell these — and thus generate some money for that time or not — the main use of their time remains artistic production, meditation on their art and its demands, exploration of a unique universe. That is what living is for an artist. Scientists know that the time they spend at their laboratories or working tables, will be visible to them (and perhaps to others) in the form of a truth they can formulate which was not known to them, and perhaps to all others. That is what living is for a scientist. The emoluments and other financial returns from lectures, publications, patents, are welcome but these are conditioned by the successful use of time in the establishment of the said truth. People in service like lawyers, physicians, nurses, have less clear-cut lives, for they cannot use their time unless someone offers them to buy it for their own ends. Maybe to live, for them, is an after-event matter. When they are both successful in their case, or operation, and can use the resulting income for their hobbies — in which they feel themselves living — they have reached the true exchange of their time for a set of select experiences of their choice. Scientists can be explorers, journalists, physicians, teachers, parents etc., and see truth as broader than the discovery of facts in their specialized field. They can extend their notion of living by acknowledging that with their time they can buy something as valuable as scientific truth and which they see clearly to be in the service of all. Health, world peace, diminution of hunger, of poverty and of other unbecoming attributes of mankind — all mobilize people already knowing how to exchange time for valuable experience, thus justifying their other involvements.


1 If Time Is Money, What Is It Buying Now?

Still, many people with social involvements that can be well-defined, like reporters, radio and television announcers, bank tellers, salespersons, office workers, truck drivers, etc., do not necessarily see — 1

their social functions as their prime choice for the exchange of their time, and

2 that part of their living is giving them the satisfaction that they are getting a good exchange, and 3 that their time is being best used in earning their living. Most of them experience the nostalgia of better transactions which will generate more deeply-felt experiences, even if they do not know which these will be. Among us, teachers and students and sometimes parents, are the groups whose exchange of time into experience cannot be said to be equivalent to living, still less to good living. When we consider what goes on in classrooms or in some activities at home, what strikes us is that so little attention is being paid to what the yield for every day of being present there amounts to. Looking back at the years spent in some school activities and at a certain number of those spent at home, how many of us can sincerely say that we appreciate the relationship of time spent to experience gained? So many years spent not to learn mathematics, not to be good at spelling, or at writing, or at appreciating history, art, music, being fit and so on. Is it not time to ask seriously the questions: “Why is the balance sheet of expenditure against product so tilted in favor of costs?” “Is it acceptable to pay any price in time during our young years to acquire such a doubtful mastery of anything presented to us at school and which is supposed to represent the essence of our culture’s gains over the generations, although it may not be?” I do not think so. The more so because there is an alternative answer which will generate assent in all reflective people if they care to be serious on this matter.


2 Exchanging One’s Time For One’s Experience

Learning, in its broadest sense, can serve us as the working bench for this transformation. Indeed, we all know that we must find time for it if we want to state that we have learned anything, whether a song, or a poem, a new skill, or a new craft. True, we do not only give up time; but we must give up time in any case. And this is meaningful here. Energy is also involved. One can argue that it is being displaced. That energy is conserved while time cannot be. It is gone forever. Sensitivity and intelligence are also involved but this is not as obvious. Hence, even a quick glance at learning generates the primitive certainty that time has been exchanged for experience in the various acts of learning. This justifies that we must take time into account and that we can engage ourselves in the accounting of the description of its exchange into experience. For instance, we can see that when we are born we bring with ourselves a functioning soma which took about nine months of public time to become available to the self for future endeavors. These nine months, in some way, represent the price we paid to give our self the objectified system that will make perception and action (among other things) available for the rest of our life. Even if it is difficult to think of the objectivation of the soma as learning or as part of memory, it is clear that that chunk of our lifetime (in utero) has been essentially consumed in the equipping of each of us with that remarkable system,


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— extremely complex, well lubricated and immediately responding — which is referred to by the words: a functioning soma. Our nervous system is part of our soma and has specific jobs which have been studied — are being studied and will be studied — for many years and by many people. It remains at the beck and call of each individual self, everywhere on our planet. The hundreds of millions of years needed to bring the human soma to that smooth functioning — encapsulated in our living soma at birth — represent another example of exchange of time into experience. But this time, a collective experience going back to the origins of life and behavior. One of the difficulties encountered in thinking of evolution as collective experience and of embryonic and fetal developments as learnings, can be reduced if: 1

we picture the fact that each individual (in particular, the human) must remake its soma from individual chemicals and some information contained in the DNA, and

2 that “nature” found that that was the most economical way of maintaining what has been successful in order to explore the possible; in other words in order to objectify evolution. Therefore, it is no idle task to contemplate in any one life (and as a consequence, in all lives) the “apparent equivalent” of the time consumed in that life by the transformation of itself into what remains accessible, that which is clearly an objectified substance. For instance, if one can say: “I own my mother tongue,” that says that one is in contact with the objectified subject. When one examines the phases of passing from not having anything of one’s language (say at the moment of birth) to the automatic use of it when writing a novel or a poem, one comes in contact with the peculiar and particular uses of time in that task: allocating to specific moments, specific awarenesses and objectivations which are all part of learning. We are all ready to spend a great deal of time, i.e. a good fraction of our time of living, to ensure a functioning retention of the energy we find fleeting in our speaking


2 Exchanging One’s Time For One’s Experience

environment and manage a tested usage that is in conformity with what others do with the same kind of material. “We are ready,” also means that we spontaneously find worth our while to do all this without any spurring from the environment. Spontaneous learning is therefore the realm to turn to if we want to study the effective dynamics behind the exchange of our time for our valuable experience. There is no wanting of subject matter for such a job, in fact there is too much for the few people involved in those studies. It follows that significant material is at once at hand and will satisfy each researcher whose time will then be exchanged for the experience of gleaning important and useful information. (So much of my published work is witness to the ease of such gathering.) As lightings in that lifelong investigation, I have above all used the stratification of experience by the concomitant component of affectivity, called in some instances interest, in others passion, in others the affective component of the presence of the self, it is known to the self directly (but also to skilled observers). Each and all are part of the time of living (“temps vécu” in French) which gives our memories their tone, their significance and their chronologies. We “know” we live this or that and in what way, but we also experience each memory as the remnant energy coagulated at that time. Knowhows are not experienced as memories — even if recall of events could be associated as these knowhows are used — but clearly they partake with them the same chronological regions in our “field of cognition” and are functionally connected with them. Hence they too can be used in the stratification of our individual experience over the years. If we say it takes nine months to give ourselves at birth, a functioning soma, and that it takes five years after to explore passionately the universe of perception, we are lumping together extremely different appearances. But we are at the same time unifying them by putting the lighting which brings into relief the self consuming time to equip itself both with the power of using latent energies placed in the soma (during gestation) and those in the complex functionings of the self now engaged in receiving from the environment — through 9

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the sense organs — other latent energies. (The obvious interest of infants for their sensations and perceptions have led observers for a long time to call that period the sensory-monitor period and made Madame Montessori propose a specific education corresponding to that polarization of their interests. It has been stressed by many that giving these interests their nourishment makes the future more easily accessible and makes for fewer social trauma.) Somewhere else we called absolute that polarization of the self, meaning by this that while some attributes of reality are stressed and enhanced by affectivity, many others are ignored although some of their aspects can still be perceived. Infants live in the absolute of perception which makes some aspects of life meaningful and others uninteresting. Of course, things are more complex than that but for our purpose here this is enough.* Five more years are needed to acquire both the mastery of action and the development of virtual action. To this period the name of absolute of action seems appropriate and it is universally true in modern as well as past societies.** In those ten or so years, each of us gives himself the many know-hows which work automatically but generally escape awareness. Since there are literally thousands of learnings involved, it becomes possible to choose which to study pinpointedly in order to see how time is exchanged for particular experiences. As a test of validity of such studies I generated in the fields of mathematics, of the mother tongue (reading, writing, spelling, composition), of the non-mother tongues (to be spoken, read and written), techniques and materials molded by the learnings which are characteristic of those fields. Because of this we then speak of “the subordination of teaching to learning.” When this subordination is properly done “artificial learning” — named thus to distinguish it from the spontaneous one offered by the self to itself, caused by me upon others who have no say on what their time will be spent on — triggers the working of affectivity mobilizing the student’s mind to use itself as it does in spontaneous learning. The                                                         * cf. my book “The Universe of Babies” ** cf. my book “Of Boys and Girls” 10

2 Exchanging One’s Time For One’s Experience

student then knows that the time spent has been exchanged for experience — however artificially — because he can now do what he could not do earlier and finds that he owns a skill or a know-how in a manner totally assimilable to the others acquired spontaneously. This knowledge available now, that it is possible to make “artificial learning” as effective as spontaneous learning, will be an essential ingredient of generally increased efficiency in everyone’s education and thus partake of all the economies that go with it. This is a very important point, indeed. It can be restated otherwise. The incredible efficiency of early childhood learning had led observers to resort to “innate faculties” or to mysterious ways of working of the matter contained in the DNA or in the brain. But when it is possible to produce comparably efficient learnings in areas of non-spontaneous interest to young people, as well as in the case of much older people — who start with the preconception that what they have to acquire is beyond them — something else is being brought to our notice. This is: 1

that it is one’s self that learns;

2 that the self directs awareness on those items which once perceived, are encountered with their own dynamics; that this perception mobilizes the will to produce artificially, through the self’s expertise at objectivation, the mental structures which are then recognized as one’s own; 3 that integrated by the self, they join the arsenal of all the other skills and know-hows and send the message to the self of growth in power in that field; 4 that like other skills and knowhows they are now available for further conquests or developments . It is interesting to find that spontaneous learning can affect “artificial” learning to such an extent and at the same time discover that it is this efficient conscious but artificial learning that made us able to bring consciousness back into spontaneous learning which thus becomes an exciting new field of study. Efficiency has barely been possible in thousands of schools all over the world, when for centuries, teaching rather than learning has been the object of attention of those in charge 11

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of education. In recent times, a common awareness among students has been one of time wasted in the courses offered by institutions at different levels which a vocal request for efficient approaches to the basics made its appearance in the public. By restricting ourselves to the first two absolutes we remain — in the field of public education — in the fields of the basic subjects and consider the state of affairs in which time consumed is not being equitably exchanged for a lasting and socially valued experience (at least for a substantial minority of the schools’ populations) at present — although things can be different. The third absolute, that of affectivity is characterized by a consumption of time with no objectivation to show for it. The five years spent between the ages of 10 or 12 to 15 or 17 are used by the self to explore consciously the world of emotions, feelings and sentiments; to give oneself criteria about our various and numerous sensitivities; to find out our place in the world of relationships: what others do to us and we to them; our place in the cosmos; the degrees of our vulnerability to the various realities perceived and acted upon earlier. While changes in our physical appearances occur (and are called pubescent) it is mainly awareness of our inner life that occupies us. The increased muscular and skeletal mass, the free flow of new hormones in our soma — triggered by our self which needs new instruments to explore new universes — provide a conflicting sense of power which settles in our favor when we reach knowledge of ourselves as a will. This makes us courageous, generous, aggressive, equitable, just, compassionate, able to sustain efforts, to dedicate ourselves, to be steadfast, accountable, ready to sacrifice ourselves. The time spent in introspection, in projecting a multitude of projects in our imagination to experience fleeting challenges, changes of moods, of contexts which will shade our values and thus let us enter the true significance of good and evil, of worthwhile and contemptible relationships and actions, the opening of ourselves to the experience of others, made ours vicariously — this time is not exchanged for knowhows, but for the experience of what one day, will be labeled by us “our self” in the social sense, because it can be described, can be given attributes which are qualities or their opposite, and shown to imply our identification with it. The


2 Exchanging One’s Time For One’s Experience

adolescent will end up as the person that can say “I am this or that,” knowingly. These five years of human evolution are most important, even if most of us do not know what they represent and this mainly because they lead us to a new absolute which will leave more visible objectivations, a tangible experience: the absolute of the intellect.* The importance of adolescence is greater today than it has been for a long time because it is the first period in which we acknowledge our inner life, its dynamics and what we can do with it to change ourselves and thus the world, and today we all need to reach those levers which we knew how to work on and used for certain ends. But in the five years of the intellectual absolute — which at one stage was extended to the rest of one’s life and produced the scientists and thinkers of the ages — we can show something for the time we have expended and our living again becomes the exchange of time for something visible: classifications, plans, written works, projects, etc., which clearly display what we can do with our time. Then we compete with others to attain the greatest yields in the fields of our predilection. The great are those among us who know best how to use their years to produce their works, those who contribute the most fruitful ideas; but they are still greater if they did this in their younger years, thus giving themselves time to do more with them. Ideas as reality require that we attain the absolute of the intellect and that we gain awareness of how our intellect works so as to exploit it to generate new ideas, more comprehensive ideas, those which at once strike as deeper and better hidden but, nonetheless, clearly, as more powerful. The history of ideas, which includes the history of science, forces us to acknowledge the existence of a universe as tangible as that of perception or of feeling and as undeniable, even capable of claiming more reality to it than those two. Does not reason find the fallacy of sensory illusions and explains them? Have we not been made aware                                                         *

cf my book “The Adolescent and His Will


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that logic is a better basis of certainty than belief which can only generate conviction? When reason was abused — and made into a fetish, into a basis for an unreasonable religion like those it debased in order to replace them — the disabused self was open to a new revelation. It discovered the universe of social relations. And intellectuals entered a new absolute, the social absolute which became a field of exploration for 100 years and more, and is still lingering among us. Men exchanged their time for social experience, for the creation of the instruments which not only made possible the grasp of this newly invented reality but made that reality the absolute. The era of institutions and of institutionalizations came about. Our modern world is full of them and not only in the “Western World” — where they were born and intensely cultivated at first — but everywhere on earth, taken there by colonialism and the imperialisms of all colors. Modern man is now at work on the threshold of a new absolute which we may call earthian in consciousness, but intuitive in character. Many men and women are now exploring how to maintain complexity at the center of their preoccupations and to develop the means of handling it in all the walks of life and all its manifestations. Time itself is perceived in its complexity and richness, rather than as a coordinate as it has been in physics and in the other sciences which borrow their time from it. Time as experience has surfaced and can now be studied in its evolution through one individual’s life and that of collectivities and given its true complexion.* We can now not only think properly of time, we can begin to see how all the gains we made through all the successive absolutes can be concentrated in making us use our lifetime for our best interest.


cf. My seminar transcript in French “Sur le Temps” Vols.1-4,1981.


3 Public Time And Human Time

In our waking state we say we are conscious. Most of us can easily prove to ourselves that much of our timetable is organized, and that our hours are consumed by activities which we can recall because of that consciousness. It gives us the feeling that our time is ours when in fact it is eaten up by what we do. Whether what we do is meaningful or not is a different matter. If I sell stamps behind a post office window, or cash checks as a teller in a bank, or type a letter dictated by someone or serve drinks in a bar, or any one of the myriads of actions involving us in our social life, can we say how much is our time used up for personal purposes? Not really! True, it allows us to justify, to ourselves and our employers, that we “earn” our weekly or monthly remuneration. True, most of these jobs are there to be done and it happens that I am the one who is doing the ones I do. In my own eyes the involvement that is mine is one of those I am capable of and, it can either be replaced by another, or I’ll find myself idle; not knowing what to do with my time and not producing (in exchange for it) means which allow me to do “other things.” Those other things are those which give me the feeling that I use my time as I wish, freely and in order to generate pleasures, my pleasures. Hence, my waking hours are of two categories: those I use to produce the means that make possible my engagement in those of the other category. I must sell the hours of the first category to savor the consumption of those of the second. If I am unemployed and have all my time to myself, I am not happy. I cannot use my own time as I wish because I do not find it easy to do so. The organization of my free time affects my feelings of freedom. I see my pleasures as resulting from: 15

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my going to the beach and idling in the sun, or

2 going to a show and witnessing a prearranged play, or 3 reading a novel already printed, or 4 playing a card game of bridge with playmates and rigid rules, or 5 being in a stadium with lots of other people looking at teams struggling against each other to win a match within a given structure, or 6 having a few drinks with people like me, who have to kill some hours or have ulterior motives, and so on. Because of this dichotomy of the use of our time of wakefulness, we are all prepared to pay with our time — our only real wealth — only to manage to survive or to see our lives in terms of exchanges. These exchanges become our values and we need them to justify that there are empty moments. What changes the estimation of the appearances of those exchanges and makes them into values, is rarely asked. Generally, we convince ourselves that there are activities which make life worth living. Reading books, going to concerts or listening to music, participating in seminars and workshops, increasing our knowledge or our muscles or our skills, watching sport events, interviewing celebrities or listening to gossip. Others, like putting up with awful trips by public transportation in order to go to work, like accompanying an invalid relative or attending to the sick, etc., if they touch a fiber in us, it is because under the influence of some inspiring figure we formed ideas and ideals capable of remobilizing us again and again “to do the right things.” In all cases, what is certain is that we relate to the content of the durations that disappear and it is that content which touches us one way or another. But rarely do we relate to the durations themselves.


3 Public Time And Human Time

If we do not have to be taught to appreciate content, we certainly need to learn to reach time and to value it. Even if it were only because we could select how to exchange it and for which contents. This new reeducation of ours has been attempted by the various schools of meditation which insist that emptying one’s mind of content leads us to know ourselves better, reach resources which escape us otherwise, and in fact, through the awareness of the self at work, gives us a chance of its relation to time. Better said, the absence of content makes the self aware of itself and of itself as time. Profound meditation has, over the centuries, allowed meditators to propose techniques which would supplement, in unforeseen manners, other ways of knowing our inner life. But not all of us find reasons to embark in such ways. The vast majority of mankind has still to find the approaches required by themselves and which would make them be satisfied with how they use their time, spend their lives, generate a feeling of happiness connected with purposeful activities. Cultures and collective behaviors let us see how individuals abandon their ability to generate original behaviors in favor of the abstract reality of the culture. By losing our spontaneous reality we come to believe that there are only group-behaviors; we call the others deviant and look at them askance. As a result, we render “objective” and rigid what is subjective and fluid, and develop values which soon become, they too, both “objective” and rigid. Nevertheless, the truth of reality and the reality of truth do allow us to look again at any one of our behaviors to find in them their dynamics and the source of the energy we endow them with. In particular, we can do this sorting out on what are our habits, how these live in us and maintain us in grooves. Among them, our sticking to schedules, our requesting clear terms of commitment, our perception of our place on the social scale (at various rungs of various organizational hierarchies) can be questioned and thus perhaps yield for us better ways of using ourselves and our time.


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Such an examination will let us see that there are in particular a few ways of relating to schedules or timetables. At once, we notice that we have to discipline ourselves differently if we relate: 1

to a unique event in conjunction with a determined duty, like being somewhere at a given time and catching the only plane that makes that possible, or

2 to catching any one of several buses taking us somewhere at times which can be compatible with what we have to do. This discipline is not known per se unless we think of it or are forced to become aware of it by a mishap. We all know that and are able to learn to relate to it seriously. Our involvements are not all of the same kind and our hours of the day do not have the same tenor. Placed somewhere on the planet as we all are, determines when the sun rises, when we start our social duties as employees (at any level, including Chief Executive Officer), what we cannot postpone and what we must cut short and all this and more affects our relation to our own schedule and the ones imposed by the various environments. At first, in our training for a job, say, we develop the conditionings which must become smooth working habits. Then, we consider our re-education, which puts us inside the durations of the various abstract frames of reference that enclose our activities and which are hollow. It is re-education because we now try to become aware of the parameters we left unspoken or which are unsuspected. We can now discover that the true item we must reach first and remain with — while we let the “public time” roll — is our self as a supervisor of the exchanges of the minutes into valuable, profitable, significant, meaningful experiences. We discover that we own an alertness to the actual passage of time, that we can use it as a measuring instrument which affects our awareness of what we put in our time and judge that as adequate, insufficient or in excess. Because of this we are motivated to either continue as before, or to mobilize ourselves to make a change. In contact with our will we can develop the criteria and the techniques which feed back where we are using ourselves adequately and where we were not. 18

3 Public Time And Human Time

Let us not identify adequacy with a mechanical assessment of a minute-count and an allocation of minutes for the various tasks. Knowing that all human involvements involve affectivity will let us judge the quality of minutes — beyond and above a strict numerical exchange. Two half-hour meetings with, say, two clients or patients can be entirely unrelated in terms of tones, yields, mutual feedbacks and hence overall results. The alertness to the contents and the passages of those thirty minutes will at once inform us that “human time” is totally different from “public time.” The more we dwell on that difference and the more we become “efficient” with regard to “human time.” The more we learn to work on the concomitant attributes of that newly discovered “human time,” the greater all the other yields expected of one and the same “public time.” If cleverness is closer to the hollow public time, compassion is closer to the much fuller human time. For example, if I know that as a teacher I am paid for hours (in public time) I spend at my teaching post, I can become aware that the nonadditive (public) time spent by my thirty students becomes additive for me, as these thirty people may waste, say 30 times three quarters of an hour of their lives, if they do not end up with a feeling that they are taking away from the time they spent with me, experiences they value or, even perhaps they will cherish forever. This transmutation of public time into human time can only be perceived by the complex instruments that human beings are and in which several items are simultaneously reached and made to register. The overall joyful feeling that would permeate all the other awarenesses such as: “I now see why this goes that way,” or “I would be able now to tackle any number of similar situations,” or “I know I function at a higher level than before,” or “I have open doors to myself that I feel promising,” or “I have let the future come my way,” or “some of the fog has lifted and my road ahead is clearer,” or “I do not need to rely on my weak memory as readily as before, I can now use my wits to compensate lapses of memory,” or “it is now clear that I was prejudiced about this (or frightened by it, or put off by it) but do not need to.” etc. etc. ***


The Economics Of Education

The example of teaching takes us back to the title of this Newsletter concerning the economics of education as a special case of a more efficient transmutation of the student’s time (human and public) into what they can find humanly valuable for that public time of theirs spent irretrievably. How can we make sure that all hours our students spend in classes are of the highest quality as judged by them? Before we answer this question, let us note that we all recognize joy as the effective concomitant of our correct affective involvements. This will be true here too. But in the case of others we can use other criteria couched in the appearances. Do they come back to class? do they come prepared and equipped materially? do they show that they mobilize themselves and take initiatives? do they regret that the time to stop or quit has arrived? do they continue their involvement once they leave the class or the (public) time is up? do they comment on their experience in terms clearly favorable? do they express the intention of pursuing matters further? do they even show that they have experiences which in comparison stress the qualities of those lived or in contrast show awareness of its absence on other occasions? Just as we want to have our own proofs that we have used our (public) time profitably (humanly) we must endow our students with such desires. Then we see why we must say “. . as judged by them.” The bridge in our students between spontaneous learning and the learning which results from their activity in the presence of teachers, is thus theoretically built. We must, simply, all work towards giving the exchange of time into experience its proper affective component, having the tone of joy in each individual and in the group (seen from outside), some of the attributes of appearance named above. After the why, the how can now be tackled. In abstract words it can be described as follows: 1

relate to the “absolute” in which these individuals which form the class, are living at present. For the youngest 20

3 Public Time And Human Time

children, give the experience a dynamic perceptible form. For elementary school students, let action dominate either in the actual or in the virtual and use perception instrumentally. For adolescents in junior high schools, let the stress be on the exploration of emotions and feelings using instrumentally perception and virtual actions which together permit the continuous contact with expansion and eternity. For the post-adolescent, let the dynamic world of ideas and thoughts gain its autonomy and bring the individual in contact with the almost inexhaustible wealth of the intellect and its creation in all the fields of endeavors. Let the self direct the intellect so as not to lose contact with intellectual creation which integrates and transcends perception, virtual action and affectivity. Motivation results from the feeling of power over oneself and one’s performances, the openness of the future as foreseen in one’s open mind capable of flights. For the adult student, place every move (perceptive, active, affective and intellectual) within the social absolute; by making it capable of integrating harmoniously the individual personal fulfillment within altruistic ends, general welfare and a more worthy environment — needing to be generated — with oneself as one of the makers. If values are then created they seem satisfying. These numerous scales of values both contribute to and are enhanced by, each other. 2 see that at this stage a human society becomes possible. Giving itself the chances it wants and needs in order to replace degenerating and conflicting societies — each stopping at a level which past absolutes may validate but no longer appear capable of evolving; at this stage a human society will both integrate and transcend all the pasts in the manner integration and transcendence take place in one human life, given to evolution and to nothing else. If collectively we are baffled by the contradictions we encounter on our planet taken as a whole, and as they appear at the social, economic, political levels; if we are desperate and helpless when we compare the magnitude of the challenges and the insignificance of our


The Economics Of Education

individual input (wherever we find ourselves or whoever we are); if we still feel that forces of evolution (some will call them of good) are at work in us and will prevail (as they have over billions of years in our cosmos); if we see that human evolution is as real as all the previous evolutions are, even if each led to a definite impasse that leaves the job of starting a new layer of actualization to a new way of working of energy; if we now see that integration and subordination can replace destruction and inevitable decay, and that it is awareness of the awareness which allows the placing of everything and everyone in functional relativity to each other; we can work together for a certain harmony and at the same time come to the point where we can say: “Education will become the true agent of evolution and develop its means of objectifying it in an apprehension of time that makes evolution possible in the here and now.” *** The economics of education becomes thus the management of time. And this takes care of all the other components. The time of every individual. The human time of each individual person. That human time perceived individually as different from public time — while riding it — and as different because it has content and can be full and experienced as such. Then if each hour yields a content recognized as fulfilling — at any and all levels of consciousness that each person has reached through spontaneous learning — we can say the price paid for experience is right and that one’s evolution is being cared for. The collective expectation for the corresponding social investment.


3 Public Time And Human Time

That “those who teach are those who know” and the highest rung in the human environment is given to education. Mainly because by then it will be common knowledge that in every human endeavor on the wide spectrum of human involvements, to do the right thing all the time is equivalent to having educated oneself in that field. Be it in the economic, the health, the scientific, the technological, the artistic, the social sectors which separately or in conjunction describe the actualization of the individual’s aspirations and his dedications in harmony with the collective aspirations and objectivations. Since it is true today: 1

that individually and collectively we are aware that our contact with energy is mainly through the numerous “nothings” that manage it as in the modern electronic technology,

2 that we now look at the little which is necessary and sufficient to generate what the self at work can find in it (and this generally means a lot) and engage in that generation when we can, 3 that legion of humans are involved in numerous fields of work and producing ever increasing outputs, 4 that among those legions there are handfuls sifting the findings and extracting the essentials to pass them on to other workers so that only the valuable and viable is preserved; we have already taken ourselves to the point where the blatant contradictions seen through the absolute sights appear as illusions to those who perceive them and can still evolve out of them, by extracting from them the affective components. In such a relativistic and evolutionary perception of our human universe impasses are transcended and we start living our destiny which now coincided with a new and more adequate human civilization.


4 A Brief Sampling Of Some Of The Economies Of Education

After thirty-five years of continuous work in the field we have no doubt that “we can beat the competition” everywhere in the areas in which we have done extensive work and testing. There are thousands of people who can confirm some or other of our estimations — and this, in a number of countries differing in their political systems, in their standards of living, their religions, their populations, their languages, their educational systems, their teachers’ education etc., thus confirming that we have reached directly the springs of learning in human beings and know how to exchange their time into experience valued by communities around them. What the various curricula of public and private schools everywhere consider the “basics” — and which today take at least up to six years to be assimilated — we knew how to reduce the time used to a few hundred hours — may be equivalent to two school years — and reach mastery with almost every student. This we knew how to do even before we added the power of the microcomputer to our technology. This last addition, if available to the students, will produce further reductions of the time needed while increasing some of the students’ awarenesses in areas where it was not certain that the actual classroom teachers had attained it. ***


The Economics Of Education

Our grasp of elementary mathematics makes us offer an approach which no longer separates algebra from arithmetic as we stress that there are only algebraic operations and that arithmetic is generated when numbers are introduced. To hand over to students arithmetic, does not require much time either. We borrow numeration from language and extend it naturally: 1

to any base, and

2 to any set of triads of digits in those various bases. Thus strings of any lengths made of the digits, 0, 1, 2 …(base -1), can be named and read. They can also be transformed through equivalences which are compatible with the defined operations and thus create a hierarchy of arithmetics. Some of the first cover the same ground as the present elementary school curricula: 1

addition and subtraction of integers,

2 repeated addition (multiplication) subtraction (division) of integers,



3 inverting the operations so as to generate directed numbers and fractions (and their equivalent, decimals) and extending the existing algebras which served to define them, to these new entities. By meeting at the same time the various operations — which by their nature go in pairs — the central awareness of algebra as operations upon operations relieves one’s memory, speeds up calculations by transforming the given so that, whenever possible, what one handles mentally is as simple as reading an answer — even before one writes it down. Geometry has also been made much more accessible to many more people at an earlier age, simply by noting the role of imagery in the mental development of geometry. By putting on films, lasting only very few minutes (up to 6, say), weeks of school work when studied in textbooks and in classroom presentations, students encounter uses of their mind which only very exceptionally present themselves spontaneously and only to those we call born-mathematicians. Not only the device intrinsically saves time — the time of attempting tentatively to suggest verbally what now can be grasped at once 26

4 A Brief Sampling Of Some Of The Economies Of Education

visually, but may escape altogether when presented through words — but it also generates: 1

comprehension of what is supposed to be examined, and

2 several possible expansions of the visible contents which make explicit a hidden content. Thus, we produce mathematicians and not only students of mathematics. Other chapters of elementary mathematics such as trigonometry and the calculus, can be made into sources of joy and into mental instruments kept in reserve by everyone who meets them as expressions of human insights into inner dynamics rather than as part of a professional training needed by future mathematicians and users of special mathematics. In the form we gave them, they also require a small fraction of the time used today in conjunction with the various presentations now on the market — including their CAI computer format. As everybody learns to find mathematics in one’s mind — in the way music or art is found — one discovers that there is no obligation to develop that aptitude and use it professionally. *** Many people who cannot be moved by the economies of time and frustration in the study of mathematics sketched above, may be touched by either the new access to literacy we have been offering for a quarter century and which has been extended to the deaf and to the blind, or by the new approach to languages other than the mother tongue which we have been offering for almost thirty years and is now available for over a score of languages. ***


The Economics Of Education

Today we can say with certainty: “To acquire the written form of one’s native language is a matter of a small number of hours provided the language is alphabetic and can be presented algebraically.” This is the case of most languages recently written (e.g. African, native American and Micronesian), a number of the old written languages that have shifted to the Roman alphabet (like Turkish, Bahasa Malaysian, recently) and a number of European languages using the Roman or the Cyrillic alphabets. Arabic and hence Farsi and Urdu (which have adapted its script) Hebrew and Hindi, even Japanese (if Kanji is not included), can all be treated in that accelerated way. We called the latest version of that literacy — learned still more quickly thanks to the microcomputer — Infused Reading to suggest that, in a way, the learners cannot escape “catching” the written form of the language they speak. Technically speaking, we now know how to make the vast majority of mankind literate in a very short time and at a cost manageable by most communities. In such a way not only our own concept of economics in education is met but also the current one held by administrators everywhere and measured in money and in the complexity of teacher training and materials production. *** In a shrinking planet in which commerce recaptures its original meaning of linkage of people, everyone may one day find that he or she has to trade with people who do not know one’s language. To resort to languages which are not our own we need special circumstances and schools seem to be the places offered to the public for that purpose. More and more people everywhere are needing to learn new languages and it happens that today we know how to make that acquisition economical. The saving of time and frustration is “miraculously” accompanied with a new kind of retention that is both effortless and lasting.


4 A Brief Sampling Of Some Of The Economies Of Education

What was needed to achieve that, was encountered in successive years of investigation which led us to involve students in activities they find congenial, easy, rewarding and meaningful. In addition, they have immediate proof of good learning by functioning in the new language at a level they did not expect of themselves. Said briefly, the approach is directed to the baby still alive in every one of us. Since no one ever saw babies make efforts to acquire their mother tongue and all normal babies everywhere learn to speak — such an approach, if it can keep the learners in that receptive state, will make them reap the benefits and end up knowing a new language. If this is done every six months people can acquire twenty languages of their choice in ten years. What we call the hierarchy is as follows: 1

students’ flow of words in the new language is taken care of first through an instrument called the Sound/Color wall chart used in conjunction with a pointer. Right sounds, right stresses, right phrasings and right placing of phrases on a melodic line, plus the appropriate intonations, transform foreigners into natives as far as the flow of words is concerned;

2 between two and three hours after starting the course, newcomers to the language who went through (1) are given a chance to learn numeration and arithmetic through word chart #N (usually the 12th). This is done because — •

the meanings of the Arabic numerals do not need generally to be presented,

with an investment of not more than 25 units of memorization (we call these “ogdens”) students could write a trillion minus one strings of numerals which they can freely give themselves and on which

they practice meaningful variations on their flow of words,


The Economics Of Education

they have the initiative and in that way they become comparable in that field to the natives and to their teacher.

3 by introducing a few extra expressions the numerical side of the language can be explored. Students can then ask the time, and tell the time; ask for dates and read the calendar; ask for telephone numbers and give their number; ask for addresses and give their own addresses; give their age and date of birth and ask for that from others. 1, 2 and 3, for most languages takes 6 or 7 hours through this approach. What matters here is that joy of learning, freedom of use of what has been met and a sense of assimilation of the natives’ ways of expressing themselves, has been passed on to the students. 4 the rest of the conquest of a new language is stretched over — 1

twenty or thirty hours to acquire and practice the few hundred key words of the language that make students functional in that language. We call that set the “functional vocabulary” and we present it on a small number of colored wall word charts (not more than 11) on which are printed in color from three to five hundred words (according to the language). These words are necessary in order to reach the “spirit” of the language (i.e. how natives express themselves verbally using structures, which together produce the syntax, and a large number of idioms) and to practice all the forms used in that language to attend to spatial, temporal and casual relationships, to express certainty, doubt and probability,

2 ten or twenty more hours can give the functional vocabulary its role of receptacle for conversational vocabulary which may require a few thousand words (we call these “topical” because they are clustered around topics). This is the time to use pictures and texts as sources of topics. A dictionary in two languages will now be a harmless — or even a useful — instrument to permit forward progress


4 A Brief Sampling The Of Economics Some Of Of The Education Economies Of Education

in reaching the freedom to speak fluently and correctly on many subjects, as natives do. 1, 2, 3, and 4 required around sixty hours and the students then speak, read, and write and converse freely and correctly, provided he or she wants it and attempts it on all occasions. The hierarchy which goes from 1 to 4-1 and 4-2 seems to impose itself within the frame of reference of the most economical way of learning a language. It can only be so if the learning is lasting and effective. Hence to say economical is to say valid, valuable or even perhaps necessary and sufficient. Caleb Gattegno


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1 Early last month the Lakota Language Silent Way materials were completed and sent to South Dakota for examination and testing. In their preparation help was received from Brother John Carr, S.J., who obtained that the project be commissioned and sent us the necessary background materials (two grammars, a dictionary and two courses already in use). He also found the means to send to us Mr. C.P. Jordan who spoke Lakotan all his life and was to vouch for the rightness of the sounds rendered by the colors on the Fidels and the Word Charts. We cannot say that it was an easy job. But we can say that it certainly was a most challenging one which exercised our wits in many ways. It being the first native American language we worked on, to reach its spirit we had to immerse ourselves into two grammars which attacked the problems of that language in very different ways. Although they pulled us sometimes in opposite directions, it was possible to reach the living language behind the rules that were being presented. We were helped by the mathematical nature of the construction of that language by a nation which must have discovered centuries ago so many “easy” variations which can convey subtle nuances of meaning. Making use of many particles which act separately or jointly on stems to produce clear transformations it becomes possible to say in one word what would take a whole sentence in English. For example: “We cut things through the middle with a knife for them” becomes one single verb: “waokiwawicunkiciskapi” including at the end the stem


The Economics Of Education

ska (to separate or cut). The particles here are: wa, o, ki, wa, wicun, kici, pi: to the first wa, has been given the meaning: “with a knife;” to the particle o has been given the function to convey that it is “in” or “inside” or “through” (in the English translation) ; ki indicates that an action is performed through the middle; the second wa (I) with the final pi indicates “we;” wicun is “for them;” kici is “with one.” Shorter compounds also display the perception of the presence of these people in their world and of some of their sensitivities. Analyzing their grammar yields entry into worlds we could not have entered had we erected our own ways into absolutes. Learning that language is essentially an expansion of one’s self so as to perceive the world in the way they did and still do. Rather than curiosity about how the Sioux people attempted to grasp their world, with the complications displayed in their verbal instruments, learning Lakotan could demonstrate interest in those layers of the human universe they reveal through the successful civilization they have built over the centuries. But since all they did must be perceptible and connected to obvious criteria — so that their infants could penetrate the mystery of the fleeting spoken language they find in their environment — we looked for those criteria. These two components of learning did not leave us while we were preparing the materials and we hope that they will assist learners to function in Lakotan as closely as natives do. This can be achieved today, thanks to the Silent Way and its technology. 2 We reported on a previous occasion on the interest Spanish Infused Reading had generated in the United States and Western Europe. Our work on putting literacy on the microcomputer is continuing and showing signs that it may assist international and national organizations in solving the huge challenge illiteracy represents at the scale of the planet. By radically reducing the cost of alphabetization hope is raised that millions will become literate in the near future where today only thousands are reached, at the present cost.


News Items

Recently we witnessed another benefit of the first completed project (that for Spanish) which, although meant for native speakers of Spanish, can provide newcomers to the language an amazingly good pronunciation in less than one hour. There is need to ascertain this success, and not only for one language. Spanish may have intrinsic attributes which make that possible, but our treatment may be the responsible agent and this requires proof! As more languages are given this format, we shall be able to report on this matter. While Spanish was done on the Apple II — which proved adequate for a quasi-phonetic language — we are tackling English on ATARI. This micro allows us a much easier use of color which, as our readers know is of a great help in the case of non-phonetic languages i.e. most languages. Indeed, if the background color of the screen can be made to trigger that the same or a different sound is asked for, we can handle the tremendous ambiguities of the English orthography. It is known that there are: eleven sounds associated with the letters a and u, twelve for the o, seven with e, six with i; that there are: twenty-four spellings which must elicit one sound ( ) ; twenty, another sound (i); fourteen, respectively for one sound (o, s, t, n) and so on; only in the case of six double-sounded consonants and two doublesounded vowels can we elicit one sound for each spelling. In all, we need to use thirty-seven single sounds and twenty-one diphthongs to account for the more or less four hundred and ten graphemes used in the writing of English. The English Infused Reading — in the works at present — will require a minimum of nine times as much room on diskettes than Spanish did. Still it represents an enormous reduction in the time required to become literate in English compared with what it takes today (with or without the help of the computer) in schools or in adult education classes where reading is being taught. If our extrapolation from Spanish to English proves true (and we expect that if we have erred in our evaluation it is by putting the duration too high) it will require up to 15 hours to go through the whole courseware.


The Economics Of Education

In a future report we shall spell the most interesting features of this project for the benefit of our readers. 3 La Lecture en Couleurs is now in print and can be acquired from us in New York City and from individual subscribers in Paris, Lyon, Strasbourg, Besançon and other places in France and in Geneva (Switzerland) also from subscribers. The various associations in those two countries will supply addresses. 4 Arizona TESOL quarterly published in its December ‘82 issue three articles on the workshop of October 22-24, ‘82 in Phoenix, reported on in our December, ‘82 Newsletter. We reproduce here with permission from the publishers one of them. “At Dr. Caleb Gattegno’s workshop on Languages and Learning at the Phoenix Union High School District’s Board Room on October 22-24, 1982, we had many opportunities to experience the rich and complex abilities of the human mind that are so often tapped in Silent Way classes. I shall try to touch on a number of these attributes by describing what I observed, within and without, during the Greek class given on Saturday. First some background for those who were not there. On Friday night, Dr. Gattegno spoke on learning in general in human beings. Saturday’s session began with the first Silent Way chart anyone had seen at this workshop: a 16” x 22” black wall chart on which rows of rectangles of different colors were arranged. Twenty people went up front to work on this language, which turned out to be Arabic, while the rest of the audience observed, supposedly silently. (The audience’s instructions were to be as “furniture,” i.e. quiet, in order to observe, but many got swept into the language learning process and sat on the edge of their seats, gesturing with and mouthing what was being elicited by the swift tapping of the teacher’s pointer from one rectangle of color to another.) After about an hour and 15 minutes, the first group returned to 36

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their seats, an entirely different collection of 20 people went forward and the Arabic learning continued where the first group had left off. Thus, when another hour and fifteen minutes later the Arabic chart came down and the Greek chart went up, there were about 60 people in the audience who had not yet been “up front” for a language class but had been observing. Twenty of them went forward for the Greek. Many of the colors (and thus the sounds) on the Greek chart were the same as the ones on the Arabic chart, because both languages have those sounds, and so the students in the Greek class did not have to start at the beginning as the first Arabic students had. People had been asked to do astounding things all morning, and they had reached within themselves and done them, to varying degrees of success and elation or frustration. Wherever one was one moment, one was not there the next. The constant challenge to be in a new place, make note of it, let it sift into what one already knew or only tentatively knew, integrate it with thrilling swiftness, and then move on to the next new place — which the teacher was already pointing to — was exciting, exhilarating, sometimes breathtaking. There always appeared another opportunity to catch what one had missed once or many times, or had had and then lost: a sound for this or that color, a sequence of sounds, the insertion of a new series into a previous, longer series. The opportunities were always variations, never drills, so that one was constantly, inwardly, on one’s toes to reassemble the impacts. The swiftness of pace left no room for memorization; one could only be impressed, or, could only let the constant variation of the same small pieces leave their tracks on one’s self until, finally, they were more or less there, in an alive and elastic way, to be used with ease, speed and facility.


These emotions and inner climates I observed in myself. I shall now describe what I as part of the audience observed the teacher asking the students to do. One word (or, sequence of sounds which always seemed to come as a package) after another was introduced until the students had about three or four to work on. The teacher varied the sequence of these “packages” (were they words? we didn’t have meaning yet) so that the students got lots of practice on — but no opportunity to memorize — the following: •

the sound for each colored rectangle;

the sequence of sounds for each different “package;”

the stress required for each package;

the various sequences those packages apparently could appear in;*

the intonation of a sequence of packages.

Once, a new rectangle was pointed to for which no one knew the sound. The teacher (without a word) began to play on an imaginary piano, emphasizing one note played by his left little finger first, the next one played by his left ring finger, and so on up the keyboard. Students entered the game immediately and several said in English, “Do, re, mi …” By the teacher’s enthusiastic accompaniment of their singing on his imaginary keyboard, everyone got to “fa,” at which point the teacher pointed to the new rectangle on the chart (mauve) and then to the white (“ah” as in pot). “Fa” was never used again, but the students easily used its consonant as it appeared in the Greek. This game took about 15 seconds and did not seem to interrupt anything that had gone before. On the contrary, the more they were asked to do, the more easily they moved.


I understand that Dr. Gattegno always gives authentic language: a single word, a phrase, or a sentence, that one would actually say in Greek. The students don’t know the meaning of what they’re saying at this early stage, although they could if it helped and did not hinder their learning.

The Economics News Items Of Education

So, the students had about six words, most of which they eventually got into this string: eene ena kokkino kseelakee. They were also shown a red rod when they said this, but had to leave in suspension the precise connection. Suddenly, two other words which had appeared before, reappeared now in a new combination; the teacher indicated that it was a question (by drawing a question mark in the air), and the students were asked to give the answer! It was a breathtaking challenge because, on top of getting sounds, stress and sequence right, one suddenly had to relook at everything to get meaning. The beauty of the lesson was that the clues were all there. At least, one could make a hunch, or better, a good guess that she had gotten the meaning of the question and its answer, and thus for free all the words introduced previously. So, when the question (tee eene afto?) was asked and someone tentatively began to answer, “eene, ena …,” the teacher enthusiastically circled his hand to indicate, “Go on, that’s it,” and students produced, “eene, ena, kokkino, kseelakee.” This questionanswer exchange, with the red rod coming up at the question and being pointed to at the answer, was practiced for the next five to seven minutes. Each student was at a different level of competence. Rather than drill, and for those students who were not quite (or at all) clear on the question-answer exchange and its meaning, the teacher then pointed out a new sequence of sounds (portokalee), held up an orange rod, and told everyone to ask the question, give the answer and use the new word. Because some people got the correct sequence rather quickly, but their pronunciation needed work and everything needed speed and melody, the teacher then introduced first one word (keetreeno) and held up a green rod. He then held up the two colors of green that exist in Silent Way boxes of rods and gave the word that would distinguish the light (aneekhto) green from the dark (kleesto) green. He asked everyone to get all of that into the question-answer exchange and to do it quickly. It was a mouthful and most everyone jumped into the challenge. There were many things to watch in each moment. I cannot begin to know where each student was with herself, within, in each moment. However, I did observe that each person changed, and rapidly, and that


The Economics Of Education

there was definite progress but not the usual, perhaps simple-minded progress we are taught to expect when we teach and aim for perfection immediately rather than when we “subordinate teaching to learning” (Dr. Gattegno’s basic tenet). For example, everyone had to do her own work, and several times, whether aloud or inwardly along with someone else. A student would get, for example, the sequence of a string of words and lose the pronunciation of one of them which she had done before in isolation. When, with practice, she got the pronunciation but then had lost some of the sequence of the string, that work received new attention. Gradually there was built up a solid, integrated, many-leveled impression or experience of the many parts. What was complicated was allowed to stay complicated and to be learned that way. Wasn’t this the excitement of the challenge? We found ourselves as human learners so eminently suited to this kind of learning! In other words, to retain and not memorize a word in a new language we had to have its sounds, in correct pronunciation and in sequence, and then their stress. We had to make all those automatic or second nature enough so that we could produce that package plus others in a string, sometimes very long, and with speed, correct intonation and melody. We had to experience the meaning sufficiently so that we could play with each package and move it around to make new strings that expressed new experiences. One may be at one stage in this multi-leveled process with one word, and at another stage with another word, and so on. One’s neighbors are at different stages also. The variety at any given moment in a Silent Way classroom is extensive and thus affords a learner several or many opportunities to pick up what she needs right then. Not only did I experience some of the more exciting aspects of my own learning abilities, I also experienced what Dr. Gattegno calls the spirit of the language. I don’t have the literal translations for the question: “Tee eene afto?” but I certainly have its feeling, I know it is authentic Greek, and I know how to use it. It is present in me in Greek; I do not have to go through English first to get to it. The quality of this experience is far richer, more useful and longer lasting, to me, than vocabulary lists, grammar rules or pattern drills.”


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Linda A. Bacon 5 A written testimony on the area of concern: For the Improvement of Teaching Foreign Languages — Panel II of the President’s Commission on Foreign Language and International Studies. What I Learned in Fifty years of Teaching that can Serve the Public. For 26 years (1928-1954) I studied the existing methods of language teaching by learning a dozen languages and found that while I could manage some acquaintance with most of these languages, nothing in the ways of teaching made me feel the differing demands of these languages resulting from their spirit and from the modes of thought of the people whose languages they were. Examining my own students and their generally poor performance, I was led to believe for many years (up to 1946), that it was my students’ own mental defects that made them incompetent and unable to pass very low tests after five years of school study. In 1947, a survey of 800 sixteen and seventeen year old students of French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish, in England, proved that they could all make sense of what it was to learn a language, and if they had not achieved much it was because their teachers did not know how to guide them. From 1946 to 1954 a close examination of students’ errors helped me find that what was needed was to study the process of language acquisition itself. As it successfully takes place in all babies and for all languages, was there anything in babies’ ways of learning that could help us, teachers of languages? For the last 25 years (1946-1979) I have worked on the improvement of teaching languages. I have developed a way of working (called The Silent Way) with students in the field of language learning, which has been successful with almost every student. Hundreds of teachers have used my materials and techniques and, like me, have found: •

that joy can be experienced while learning a language The Silent Way; 41

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that teachers generally don’t get tired even if they teach the same group of students 8 hours a day in 60 hours intensive continuous courses;

that though the languages taught present all sorts of variants and difficulties, they can be learned with equal ease through the exercises of the Silent Way which are designed to enhance the awareness of one’s own functionings as well as linguistic awarenesses.

I feel it my responsibility to bring to the attention of everybody in the field of language teaching the results of a serious research and study done over the last twenty-five years. The public’s response to the announcement that the Silent Way did do the jobs most people wanted done, was slow to come. From 1954-1970 only the teachers who came in contact with me had a chance to experience its qualities and to be given a preparation allowing its adoption for their own classrooms. For only three languages (English, French, Spanish) materials were available that cost little and could be used at once. From 1970 on, thousands of teachers have been exposed to the Silent Way and they have tested it in their own conditions and circumstances. It is the bulk of this field testing and varied experimentation on a global scale that give today the guarantee that the public needs before looking into an approach. Only word of mouth and the testimony of teachers (who became learners of one or more languages, the Silent Way) made possible this wider adoption of a very different, but also immediately rewarding, way of working. It is not easy to convey in a few words how the Silent Way restores to the teaching-learning situation “creativity in teaching” and “initiative in learning.” The following is an attempt to describe some of the important features of the Silent Way: •

In the Silent Way the mental powers — besides memory — which each of us has and has used to acquire the 42

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mother tongue, have been made part and parcel of the ways of working on a new language. •

In the Silent Way the emphasis is on the mental dynamics of the learners, and teaching is subordinated to the actual learning of the new language.

Teachers trained in the Silent Way learn to use their resources such as sensitivity, flexibility, imagination, in order to take into account different teaching-learning conditions: students’ ages, their varying backgrounds, their needs, the physical facilities available, etc.

The Silent Way is an empirical approach to teaching and not a method. Silent Way teachers are prepared to learn, while participating in teaching-learning situations, how students learn a language, and how to let teaching be guided by the learning processes of individual students.

The Silent Way techniques and materials are precisely designed to meet the challenges of the new language. This saves frustration to the teacher who now knows what he or she is doing, and why. At the same time, because of the flexibility of the approach, students and teachers alike are allowed to innovate on the spot — another way in which frustration is avoided.

In this way of working students improve as learners all the time since they consciously take responsibility for their learning. Thus, the Silent Way leads to effective learning and saves time because what is learned remains with them from then on.

The Silent Way saves money because:

the equipment is inexpensive and durable,

large classes work better than small ones.

The Silent Way can save the future of language teaching in schools, colleges and other institutions since in this way motivation to teach and to learn is self-generated and interest is maintained since there is enjoyment in working, with obvious good results. Caleb Gattegno April, 1979 43

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6 In Paris from January 28th through February 1st, an exhibition of language learning and teaching called Expolangues took place. There was a stand for the Silent Way. From a letter written by the director of the Abon Language School of Bristol England we extract the following words: “The stand was nearly always crowded. People seemed attracted by the video, or the name Silent Way, or the colors. I did not see anyone apparently drawn by the photos (showing teaching) but I saw people attracted by the strange video screen; studying Barbara’s striking prospectus; and especially looking hard at the charts — really hard, until they seemed forced to ask the significance of the colors. Then they came in and worked a little and repeatedly became delighted to find themselves saying: ‘I tie my tie tight’.… or discovering that they could decipher so much with one color (y or i or igh), or, for those who could read Chinese, discovering that someone who could not read a character, could produce very presentable sounds. Up to four people simultaneously.”








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.

The Economics Of Education  
The Economics Of Education  

The Economics Of Education