Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc.
vol. XIII no. 5
First published in 1984. Reprinted in 2009. Copyright ÂŠ 1984-2009 Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc. Author: Caleb Gattegno All rights reserved ISBN 978-0-87825-319-7 Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc. 2nd Floor 99 University Place, New York, N.Y. 10003-4555 www.EducationalSolutions.com
If we place Man within the overall evolution of life we are faced with the challenge of tracing back to earlier species what has become associated with Man. We can easily do this on a number of observable behaviors such as moving, mating, feeding, which are animal behaviors. We can even find that protecting the young, gregariousness, play, belong to Man and other mammals; that creating a shelter, making reserves for hard times are also shared by Man and other animals. But, Man distinguishes himself from other creatures, and speech is one of the most commonly cited distinctions though modern zoologists are able to find definite means of communication within some species. Means in no way comparable to Manâ€™s speech but widening our perception of the third realm and making our perception of it more accurate. Is the expression of Manâ€™s morality also an evolutionary trait which has its roots in the third realm? Or is it totally sui generis? To this question we devote the main body of this issue of our Newsletter, the last of Volume XIII. The News Items, as usual, are at the end of this issue.
Table of Contents
1 The First Three Realms Are Void Of Morality .................... 1 2 Morality And Conscience .................................................. 9 3 One Evolution Of Oneâ€™s Ethics......................................... 19 News Items ......................................................................... 27 1......................................................................................................... 27 2 A Week In Australia .....................................................................30 3 A Week In Japan .......................................................................... 31 A Stop In Tokyo .......................................................................... 31 Teaching Real Beginners At The International Buddhist University Near Osaka........................................................... 33 The 3-Day Seminar In Osaka ..................................................... 35 Microcomputer In Education .....................................................39 4 Two Days In Seoul, Korea ............................................................39 5 Two Stops In Honolulu ................................................................40 6 Newsletter Renewals .................................................................... 41
1 The First Three Realms Are Void Of Morality
Once we ask the question of the origins of morality we find ourselves in front of the immense emptiness of the prehistoric times which left behind no traces or evidence of the sources of ethical behaviors. Twenty or so thousand years of records may in fact, be the furthest we can go back, to look for human origins. Unless we select another approach and test it for reliability on the basis of consistency with other components of human evolution, we are stopped altogether in that investigation. Two years ago, an issue of this Newsletter (Vol. XII #1) was devoted to the question of the origins and evolution of language. Our personal approach let us find a more plausible path towards those origins and evolution than any other proposed until now by the various human sciences mobilized by that search. At least, such was our conclusion. We can try again this time taking as our field of study the origins of morality. *** One implied assumption is that every reader of this issue would know at once what a moral stance is and how to distinguish it from all other stances. We shall not define in the beginning, what morality is, either with words or with examples. But, we shall aim at reaching a definition 1
(in the manner done in optics) of moral behavior or behaviors, by the end of our examinations. What we must first clarify is that we have a way of working which increases the chances in our search for the origins of morality of our finding something of value for everybody. *** In our studies of human problems, we always refer to Man as of the four realms: the cosmic, the vital, the behavioral and that of consciousness. In fact, Man is seen by us as belonging to the cosmos because he is as much atomic and molecular as the rest of the cosmos; to belong to the realms of life because he is cellular like plants and animals; and to belong to the animal kingdom because he has behaviors. But Man is only molecular when dead and returned to the earth; only cellular, when seen as a physicochemical system as he would be if brainless or under perpetual anesthesia or in a perpetual coma; only animal, if he is identified to a finite and given constellation of behaviors. As soon as one hominid became aware that he was aware, Man made his appearance on earth. Thus, being of the first three realms makes Man belong to the total content of the cosmos, while to make him different, a new attribute is needed: awareness of his awareness is our proposal. By this definition of Man, we are satisfied that we account accurately for what all scientists taken together, demand in order to be able to speak of human facts. At the same time, we preserve the links with the obvious three realms, carefully and extensively studied for four hundred years in the Western Civilization, and we give Man his autonomy, so as to account for what the sciences have not yet learned to do when they handle the extreme variety of individual human behaviors. Individuality is not specifically human. In fact, it belongs to all the realms, from particles to Man. Through individuality, evolution can
1 The First Three Realms Are Void Of Morality
work, and in all the realms. But, relativity is also needed, as much as evolution, to comprehend what is happening and has happened in the various universes into which men have looked. Both evolution and relativity are needed to account for change and variety, for the supreme importance of the individual in the processes of change and variation. Already in the first three realms, we can find foreshadowed to certain degrees all the objectivations found in the study of Man. For years, this Newsletter gathered examples of that and we shall not add much here. The method has recommended itself by allowing us to make a number of valuable contributions to human education and epistemology. In the case of the study of morality, will it continue to serve us as well as it did in the case of memory or economics, for example? The title of this article states that we shall not get much help from looking at the first three realms which we say are void â€” of even sketched outlines â€” of morality. If this is true, then Man will be entirely responsible for the existence of morality in the universe and should accept that responsibility. But is it true? We can say that the sun has been good to life on earth. That the size of the earth and its distance from the source of its energy (the sun) was right for life to appear on earth. That, the availability of billions of years in the cosmos was precisely what was needed for viability to be tested and made to continue in harmony with all that which coexists in the world. That balances have been found between the conflicting tendencies formed by wanting to survive by absorbing others while this applies to oneself as well. We can see affinity among atoms which unite to generate new entities capable of doing more together than the atoms separated. We can see dynamic equilibrium between constituted molecules and constituent atoms. We can see architectural stereoscopic equilibrium of large molecules accommodating constituent molecules. This already in the cosmos or first realm.
We can see parasitism or symbiosis between species and specialized functions — within one species for a number of its members — as forms of attention to the other; the first, to exploit it; the second, for one to take on what the other cannot do and leave to the other what one does not do so well; the third, foreshadows social behavior. Insects tried several ways of increasing the species’ survivability by creating classes for its members; specialized classes according to what they do for the species. The workers, the soldiers, the queen (and its fertilizers), seem to have found their condition and function right for each of them over hundreds of millions of years: none “feels” exploited, none needs to “rebel” and leave the group Workers and soldiers know how to cooperate so as to do together more than anyone can do alone, and are ready to sacrifice themselves for the common good, seen here as the survival of the queen which carries the genes of the species in their eggs. We can see pairs of animals being companions all through their lives, while others live in groups in which one male serves a number of females, others are not choosy and mate with anyone and not necessarily for reproduction. If we see animals using plants as their nourishment and others only subsisting on animals, occasionally we find that they eat their young, they destroy some of them, refuse to care for one or more if these walk out of a territory the parents consider their own; ignore totally an offspring after a certain age when for a long time it seemed that the bonds were to last forever. The animal kingdom will provide us with any type of conceivable behavior and lead us to conclude that individual animals are directed by their instincts and only relate to their kin in specific ways and to those not their kin in one of three ways: 1
they see them as food for themselves and can kill them to restore the level of their energy which allows them to go on, never concerned with the others;
2 they see themselves as food for others and select one or more ways to avoid being eaten. In fact, the perception of 4
1 The First Three Realms Are Void Of Morality
danger when confronting one of those to whom they can serve as food has led to a huge variety of behaviors from camouflage to speedy escape, to battle to death, to discouragement of their being pursued using chemicals from a distance or from close and many others; 3 the third way, is to live and let live, which is what happens in all environments for quite a number of species rarely or never molested by a number of others. The cuckoo, for instance, knows that so well, that it places its eggs in some other bird’s nests to be hatched and helped by the “foster parents” who are ready to oblige. In the third realm, the perception of an individual by another, either evokes aggression, or defense or indifference. There is never doubt and hesitation. One’s instinct has organized the environment and perception triggers action except in the case of indifference. And the action is either an attempt at getting the other, or at avoiding contact with the other. When neither is triggered, the animals know the other as not harmful, rather harmless, and as not needing to be taken into account, nonexistent as far as oneself is concerned. *** Before Man tamed some animals and made some of them his pets, animals in nature (so-called wild animals) which saw each other in one of the first two ways, could never come near each other without aggression or defense showing itself. But tamed animals do not necessarily perceive each other as in the wild. Cats and dogs can be made to be at peace in the same confined space of an apartment; tamed lion cubs can grow up among sheep and for a long while not jump on them to feed on them. Taming affects precisely this perception while keeping other manifestations of the instincts as known in the wild, intact. Stories are told of tamed animals which appear to the human observers, reporting these stories, as if one or other of them can reach a level of relating showing what unselfish humans know of themselves. Humans are struck by such animal behaviors because their accumulated experience with animals taught them that animal
instincts concern themselves with preservation of the individual so that the species be preserved, and with little else besides. Animal behavior can only be explained by natural selection for these observers. If it is at variance with this explanation it is not understood. Maybe it is not understood because the explanation is at fault. Domestic (tamed) animals don’t have to struggle for life, they are provided by their masters. Hence, they may have time to find out what is compatible with their instincts. Although dictated by the environment which includes Man and circumstances, some opportunity may present itself which makes an animal experiment on a behavior not determined by instinct. For example, to refuse food offered or to let someone else have it now, knowing some more exists to be offered; or to pretend not to notice that one’s legitimate share of food is being consumed by one’s spouse or companion. Tamed animals are more easily observed than in the wild. They may display some behaviors of their masters or pleasing to their masters. Altruistic behaviors outside the workings of the instincts for preservation (as we see them in feeding one’s progeny) seem strange and unexpected. When one is encountered it is a curiosity, i.e. it should not have happened, according to a proper understanding of the animality of animals. If it does, is it because of something that works against the laws of nature, rather than it is proper in the present circumstances, or that we only need to alter our grasp of the third realm to integrate those “strange” behaviors which then lose their strangeness? *** If animals must survive in hostile environments it is acceptable that they only allow themselves to be concerned with that which makes possible that survival. But if the circumstances provide an easier preservation of the species — as we see in the case of tamed or domesticated animals — then the instinct does not need to be focused and individual animals may find that some behavior is compatible with the inherited instincts. Experimentation thus becomes possible and learning from it, too.
1 The First Three Realms Are Void Of Morality
There may be occasions for singular individuals to prove to us that, in the third realm, an intelligence of the situation leads to a behavior which we know from humans, and be led to assert that for such a behavior to exist there must be a sense in that animal permitting it to make judgments beyond those imposed by survival. But can we equate such occasional happenings with a moral sense? Our answer is dual. Let us not minimize this capacity — it may have a tremendous evolutionary value — as well as let us understand what constitutes the distinction between the third and fourth realms. At the same time, let us not be carried away by this finding and conclude that the origins of morality are already found in the third realm, in the judgment of actions as either purely selfish or clearly altruistic. The light gained, is that awareness is essential but not sufficient. For a behavior to be moral or ethical — on top of the awareness of what the situation requires and allows — there must be inner repercussions which make the behavior evocable and recognizable as belonging both to the individual and to the situation. Transfer must be part of that awareness. In the third realm this transfer does not seem to exist. Within this frame of reference we can conclude that it is safer to assume that morality is not passed on to Man from the previous three realms and if it is evolutionary, it is solely so within mankind.
2 Morality And Conscience
Like all other broad concepts, morality has demanded a long time to become a matter we could consider analytically in a competent manner. Spinoza’s “Ethics” was the first treatise published by a philosopher on that subject and it came more than three hundred years ago, after Descartes had offered a method of handling concepts which escaped scrutiny until then. After Spinoza, there were many attempts at grasping morality in a rational manner, the best known being Emmanuel Kant’s over 200 years ago. Spinoza had the ambition of making Ethics into a deductive science, Kant was trying to find for mankind a reasonable way of handling human conduct also on the basis of intellectual scrutiny. In the last hundred years, the slant has been to substitute social awareness for the intellectual, and to approach morality from the historical and anthropological angles. Already Hobbs (in the XVIIth Century) and Hegel (in the early XIXth Century) were drawn to such stands in their study of human conduct, a stand which influenced the socialist thinkers to the point that there was little left to do for the individual in that field, and the State or Society was entrusted with most. Morality had already been examined by thinkers in other civilizations. Confucius, Socrates and the Buddha, two thousand five hundred years
ago, struggled mightily with the difficulties in that area and made a variety of proposals still at work on large numbers of minds and directing their conduct in their everyday life. So much interest, over such a long period of time, for what motivates people to act like this or like that, must have very deep roots and, although the collective objectivations look very different from one place to another or from one period to another, it is worth trying to reach some of these roots and enquire about their universality. *** The complex approach available for tackling such difficult challenges, in which we know Man as of the four realms, as having no instincts, as forming species of one individual, as being able of becoming aware of his awareness, as exchanging his time for his experience, as delegating — 1
to his psyche, the function of maintaining all functionings at work, and
2 to his affectivity, the energizing of his encounters with the demands of the present, may still tell us that we do not know enough of him as yet to find at once the springs behind “the moral self” he knows himself to be, sometimes. But, if we accept to reach only approximations each time, and work on each to refine them and make them agree more with what we perceive of the challenge at this time, we may find that we progressed indeed. As soon as we have found a more secure platform to undertake a further move, we cannot believe that it took so long to get there. We cannot believe that what we know now has not always been known, although we may be able to give a date to the moment we became aware of it. We always forget it takes time to do anything and we shift, in no time, from having discovered something to demand that it be equally known to all, at once. This state of affairs — almost universal — applies to our awarenesses of morality. 10
2 Morality And Conscience
Since it is easier to observe others than oneself — although the chances of being right are greater in introspection than in looking from outside at the inner movements of other people — we note appearances and behaviors first and only later think of motives and functionings. In particular, what we note first is that which concerns us and that which deprives us of what appears to us to be our birthright. In the way a member of a litter — numbering more siblings than there are nipples on the mother to provide nourishment to all — does feel that it must wait after others to be fed and may resent the waiting. Very early in our lives, we may encounter circumstances which force us to be aware of obstacles in our way to being satisfied. If these circumstances are few and far between, they may not affect us, but if they happen at a rhythm which does not allow forgetting the previous impact, it may be that we build that impact into our perception of the world. This may translate itself into an outlook in which others are to be kept at a distance emotionally, seen as competing with us for our breathing space and to whom we can be hostile without any doubt in our minds. The other side of the coin makes us appear as selfish and only concerned with ourselves. There is a spectrum of ways for every human behavior to appear. For each of us, there is always: how things appear to us innerly, and how they appear when others put them on, as seen from outside. The tension between these two viewpoints can become the object of our attention and be entertained by some of us more than by others. There too, there are two spectra of possibilities, one concerned with contents and one with durations. We do not need anyone to teach us to feel, and we know when we are hungry and have to wait near the available food and we then know the tension of waiting. We also know how the state of mind we are in affects our perception of others in the situation. We may translate our tension into an aggression to the nipple or into a push of a sibling and experience the corresponding reaction from the other or that sibling. Thus, we are forced to face more than we entertained at first. It is this move, if held in ourselves — either in the psyche or in association with some perceptions — which will mobilize energy to avoid being again in
the situations which we find counter to these spontaneous movements of ours we judge legitimate. This energy feeds our imagination to act in what appears to us to be our self-interest. The first element of importance here, is the lingering in us of some energy attached to, or triggered by, a certain perception. If we remain aware of such lingerings, we would also know when none appears and can move from one thing to another giving durations to each which do not overlap each other and which seem right in the circumstances. Such observations are primitive and accessible to the very young child whose self is master in adjusting readily to demands which come its way. Because they are energy transactions they are primitive and immediately perceptible. What experience adds is: whether they are being met again, are recognized as such and held at one’s reach in one’s storage of conscious retentions. Very young children have to make decisions all the time, guided by inner criteria related to what they are in contact with also all the time. What changes from day to day, age to age, is the nature of the content, not the dynamic. That is why it is possible to reach the dynamics behind the behaviors and to make observations on them and note some of their attributes and properties. In particular, we can notice that some of our behaviors are acceptable to others and some are not. We can then have two attributes for our willed actions: those which meet with acceptance or rather no reaction, and those which generate reactions, some of which, recognizable at once as not being to our liking. What is left with us beyond the happening is that 1
some of our actions involve others and some only ourselves;
2 some of our actions willed in certain ways are acceptable to others — and we judge that by finding that we are not taken to task — and some other actions, willed in some other ways, are not acceptable,
2 Morality And Conscience
3 some of other people’s actions fall in those same categories but this time with respect to us, from our own system of reference. If we add to this that we experience as a violation of our rights what happens to us sometimes, it appears that very early we can learn from experience that not everything goes, with us as well as with others, and we start paying attention to the dynamics of relating: of others with us and us with others. All this without uniformity and regularity, mainly because humans are not led by instincts and individual circumstances can vary enormously. When one self dwells more than another on some experience and reaches the dynamics behind it, it can be a better judge of how things happen, though both may concentrate equally on what happens. A “how” can become a “what” and then a new reality is being contemplated. If this is done often enough, that self can be said to dwell in that new reality and can make a specialty of noting its occurrences. Others may have done it occasionally but often enough to recognize the reality in it and contemplate it from outside, intimately or fully, in order to identify with it. These are matters which may remain entirely individual or made available to others or taken up collectively. But, they have to start with one individual and be reached by more than one person to expand beyond them, taking the time it takes for that. It is the learning to deal with this dynamics which has become the history and evolution of conscience and it has taken many forms in many civilizations and within these in many cultures. It still has not yet reached a level permitting it to permeate all moments in any life, nor in all lives. *** For all the instances of the dynamics involved in our behaviors, to become reachable, consciousness must precede conscience.
In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were naked, and we are told that they were not self-conscious (or ashamed). Only when they acquired knowledge — from nowhere (or the serpent) — did they find that they had to be responsible for their behaviors and thoughts. These were at once classified as good and bad. Their son, Cain, slew his brother Abel, and had to run away. When Rebecca cheated her blind husband Isaac by substituting Jacob their younger son, to receive his blessing instead of the legitimate Esau (the firstborn and tribal heir), she broke a tribal law and Jacob had to run away to Rebecca’s brother Laban’s estate. There, Laban cheated Jacob by substituting Leah for Rachel in his matrimonial bed and later gave Jacob his two daughters as wives. In turn, those in a hurry to have children, asked Jacob to fertilize their servants. Jacob had twelve sons who became heads of the twelve tribes of Israel, ten were jealous of Joseph, the favorite of his father and he had to run for his life to Egypt. In all these examples (and many others), individuals act for their own reasons, mostly indulgence, and we are presented with instances accepted as foundations of collective living without ever seeing how they were judged by the members of the tribe. True, Joseph was magnanimous and forgave his starving family members, when they arrived in Egypt, fleeing famine in Canaan. Earlier, in the history of the Hebrews, Abraham — the founder of a religion based on the recognition and worship of one single God — was prepared, in order to save his skin, to let his wife Sarah pass as his sister and be known by the Egyptian pharoah and later the King of Gerar, Abimelech, who both found her to their liking. The same Abraham argued with God about saving just men from the corrupt Sodom and Gomorrah, both condemned to burn to the ground by a vindictive God. It was Moses, who gave the Hebrews the Law which was to direct their behavior. Summarized in the Ten Commandments, it mainly regulated the people’s conduct by interdictions. Each commandment refers to individual behaviors which emerge spontaneously in individuals, whether Hebrew or Gentiles, moved by inner appetites or desires. The Law therefore consists of two things:
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recognizing the tendency to do what is singled out, and
2 restraining it, so as to be in observance of God’s guidance to His chosen people; so as to belong to the chosen people. Hence, implicit in the definition of the overall acceptable conduct of those people — which is “being moral according to the law” we find 1
consciousness capable of sensing the inner dynamics behind all behaviors, and
2 a will to restrain some and to direct others. Together they form conscience. Centuries of practice of living with the Mosaic Law, led some to find the loopholes, so as to accommodate man’s need to know and to experiment with what has not yet been regulated. From time to time, a loud voice is heard and a flagrant deviation from the Law made to take a form acceptable to the evolving historical community. The Prophets were contemporary interpreters of people’s deviation and often capable to formulate acceptable reforms, acceptable to the people while they were also compatible with tradition as read in the laws. Until, two thousand years ago, one of them proposed a radical change of mentality. The main teaching of the law was the recognition of the other and his rights to his inner life. Centuries of proving that such a relation to oneself was capable of making ordinary people have the inner strength to face servitude, humiliation, injustice and massacres, also led some among them to see that what the law taught was love and not only for the members of one tribe. God could not be monopolized by so few people. He belonged to all those who recognized Him as their Creator and their inner light. God, the personal God of Abraham, and the stirrer of consciousness in all — and of conscience as His presence in that consciousness — was calling all mankind to become His people. To dissolve the ancient tribal link, it was enough to love one’s neighbor as oneself and to extend that love to one’s enemies.
This was not to be, and the followers of Jesus Christ, who started by being from among the Israelites, were to form larger churches everywhere except in that small part of the world. Twenty centuries, of trying to love one’s neighbor, have not been sufficient to make it into a reality which does not need to be stressed anymore. Mankind is still unable to produce a human conduct which takes care of the commandment: “Thou shall not kill.” Conscience is still in need of more consciousness to become fully human. Whether Jewish, Chinese, Hindu, Christian or Mohammedan, men’s consciousness does not seem to find in itself the ampleness to embrace all creatures actually. The field of activity of conscience which defines the domain of morality, is still strongly tinted by attributes which let people accept their own behavior as legitimate while considering the same behavior in others as offensive and worthy to be suppressed. Morality can have two appearances, just like conscience, and the double standards held by most are barely distinguishable to be noted and altered. The egocentric people we are, cannot see our behaviors and conducts for what they are; being blind to ourselves, how could we be clearsighted about the others? Still, this is what most of us believe we are. Until consciousness permeates all our inner movements, we shall not notice what is necessary to note in order to put right our own inner dwelling and to try after that to serve as example to those near us and, if possible later, to those who are not so near us. Conscience, as part of consciousness can be educated. But we must first manage to reach it empirically, directly, existentially, as concerned with some specific dynamics. Once this happens, we do not need to hold a priori moral standards, i.e. to being a moralist, and seeing the world through those standards. Once this happens, we do not act with the confusion which allows us at the same time to arm ourselves against possible housebreakers, to feel
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very strongly against unwanted pregnancies and define the rights of the unborn when we do nothing to alleviate the hardships of the destitute. Once this happens, we see our conscience at work as much in its weakness when we are selectively indignant, as in its strength when we mobilize ourselves to become vulnerable to minute manifestations of what goes against human evolution; when our morality is shocked and made to work below our previous thresholds. *** To reach morality, we have first to reach our conscience. To reach our conscience, we have to find it as an inner presence of a special consciousness the self can make into a permanent attribute of its workings when the non-self is being contemplated. This consciousness is not given to us by our genes. It is progressively encountered as we go on living and encountering more challenges due to other peopleâ€™s conduct and retaining the lessons of such encounters. Even then, we must have the will to learn and to evolve as a knower of our conscience. One can be a moral being without adhering to any moral code. One can adhere to moral codes and be without a conscience. Such is man at this stage of evolution.
3 One Evolution Of One’s Ethics
Each of us will have to do a similar job to the one which will be tried here, if we want to gather the empirical notions that can serve for the foundations of “a science of ethics.” If we accept that conscience is human, and manifested itself for the first time on earth in the fourth realm; if we accept that it is not given with the genes and is not wholly transmitted by one’s culture, but is an attribute of the self, which evolves like the self, we have some basis to believe that a science may one day exist which handles ethical matters with the same neutrality and precision asked for in physics or astronomy. If “values” divide us, we must replace this notion by new ones which will unify us and then handle values for what they are and render the fact that values are capable of putting us against each other understandable. The following brief study only claims to be an attempt at looking at one evolution of the ethics of one person from closer, without any claim at it being more than that. As much as possible neutrality will be aimed at deliberately. This means that biographical elements will only affect the narrative when it is unavoidable. Preoccupied with my in-utero evolution and the act of my natural birth, I cannot see that I was born with a mortgage larger than that of most people whose mothers go through a normal pregnancy in an
environment not particularly traumatic at the time, nor through birthtrauma exceeding those of others. Being one of many children, I took my place in the family like the others. I remember my indignation at the age of 2 plus, when my eyes were treated with silver nitrate for a particular ailment and I did not want to be taken to the eye clinic against my will. I can still hear my screams more than seventy years later. They were a milestone in the formation of my conscience. I knew my right to protest as wildly and loudly as I could to this abuse of power of those in my environment who decided on my behalf that I should suffer in the here and now so that their belief that it was for my own good, be safe. As a child, I played with other children the games which were in circulation at that time in my environment. I cannot recall that I was refused to participate in group games and I must have gone through many solitary games which served me in numerous learnings like most people my age. Maybe, that the concentration of my self on my sight put a slant on which were the things which I came to leave out or which I tackled more specially. Another landmark in the evolution of my conscience came around ray seventh birthday, when my father was a victim of a heart attack and was dead in two hours. During those two hours, I begged God not to take him away, but I was not heard. To talk to God as I did meant that I believed in a personal deity, all powerful, but also directly related to me. I took my father’s demise as a personal abandonment by my God and started a long period of questioning which kept God in my consciousness, but not in my heart. The young boy was very hurt, and had to learn to live from then on without the trust that the spontaneous believer he had been had put in the Almighty. The normal evolution of an active boy full of energy for the activities concerned with more and more subtle and complex actions — covering the many games boys play in small groups in the streets or as gangs in the surrounding open spaces — would not have betrayed the lingering feeling that luck was all important everywhere but was not guaranteed at all to be present by one’s side. This relation to luck and to its 20
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absence, was deeply related with the ease with which guilt would make its appearance in one’s consciousness. Guilt was mainly lived at the level of the situation in a household where the head of the family death left such a burden on his widow and which the young boy could not alleviate, however much he desired it. Guilt and helplessness were mingled with filial and brotherly love to give consciousness a special slant and in it a special alertness which gave conscience a brand not found in that of the other members of the family. Being strict with oneself bred in an intolerance to so many elements which struck an exacerbated sensitivity, that conscience was experienced as only functioning right if it worked within very narrow bounds. It took the intensive years of adolescence to recognize at the end of it, that one’s conscience has been made to work in a wrong manner by arrogating to oneself the right to judge others and to find them displaying conducts which were condemnable only because of one’s adherence to one’s statified values. There was then need to revise all adherences and to conquer a freedom for the self which had been given up on the basis of a false assessment of life and its opportunities by a boy of seven. Conscience was still conscience, but without its narrowness. At the time, the intellect was taking precedence upon the affective components of the self which dominated the previous five years and the study of ethics became important. This study was done through books. Spinoza and Kant provided the language, the concepts and methods of entering the challenges and staying with them. The direct contact with conscience was lost and instead systems took precedence. Now, definitions, principles, deductions, generalizations were much more convincing than feelings and affective experiences. Adherence to principles was satisfying and the avoidance of contradiction, essential. Freedom, equality, fraternity seemed better guides for what one was to think and act for, than one’s conscience. For instance, it seemed acceptable that the State and the individual were mental items not comparable, mutually exclusive. Hegel’s concept of the State as representing morality was seen as powerful and necessary and human
conscience as irrelevant and an infantile manifestation of unskilled thinkers manipulating primitive notions. In gradual stages, even the intellectual schemas of the world and the behavior of humans in it, yielded to another absolute: one in which society transcends the individual. The good of society must be reached even if it is at the cost of individuals relinquishing their freedom. Collective conscience existed first, and it was it which induced conscience in the individuals. A conforming conscience, which did not tolerate deviations. The sacrifice of the individual for the benefits of the collectivity was acceptable and seen as the norm. Fascism and Nazism, although as totalitarian as communism, were considered evil outside Italy and Germany. How could that be? Internally, the States were above human morality and could do as they pleased. The citizenry could only march to step and were not allowed any right to judge. Obedience had been preached for so long by sociologists, as well as politicians, that citizens of democratic countries could only be confused. The open banditry of the mid-thirties â€” when Mongolia was invaded by Japan, Abbysinia by Italy and Spain, fell victim to the fascist governments through an army coup â€” led all idealists to their limits of indignation. It was clear then that morality had no place in the world anymore and that no one had any conscience left to be touched. The Stalinist era in the USSR was also adding its erosion of any confidence left for a reign of reason. The Second World War seemed to take mankind to its final destruction. Callousness was needed just to keep alive. Who could ask anyone to behave when there was no more spiritual authority in the Western World? The explosion of the atom bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, after the mass bombings of so many cities everywhere swept away any belief left in morality. Existentialism embodied the skepticism and even the cynicism of the mid-forties. Still, some voices were raised and sometimes heard. Personalism revived a possibility for individual input in a world where the discovery of what went on in the Nazi concentration camps topped whatever the most cruel acts of the past had reached. For those who escaped these and other horrors, there
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seemed to be a place for a pledge to do all one could to prevent a repeat of such assaults on human dignity. But Gandhi was assassinated by a fanatic Hindu. Truman was elected president. De Gaulle refused to continue as head of France’s government. Mao’s armies occupied the whole of mainland China. Stalin put a seige to Berlin. The H-bomb was produced by the new opposing “great powers.” A new appearance of the world started: the old empires crumbled and scores of independent countries sprung upon the maps. Anything seemed to be possible again. Could corruption be wiped out from the face of the earth? Could a new conscience emerge? *** Since consciousness precedes the emergence of conscience, and consciousness can educate itself, perhaps by working on education at a human level, would it be possible to bring ordinary men to know themselves enough to control their tendencies as these have been known in all the excesses of the decades of this century. The fear of a nuclear holocaust is not real enough to mobilize the peoples to teach their rulers to do something about armaments and wars. All other fears put together are as powerless and pollutions, cancer, droughts, floods, starvation remain intractable. Men do not seem to 23
know conscience in the large, only conscience on small matters in everyday life. They can understand when they are telling the truth and when not, when they are withholding information, when they are misguiding, when they cheat and when they are honest, when they care and when they are indifferent. This knowledge is awareness, but it needs something else to become conscience. It needs the specific human ingredient of a larger scheme in which one operates. In that scheme, oneâ€™s actions and thoughts are taken not only as immediate, local responses to a local, immediate challenge, but as capable of having some repercussions with which one becomes immediately engaged. Of course, not all actions or thoughts involve oneâ€™s conscience. In fact, many do not. Solitary speculation and experimentation require the concentration which cuts off interferences. But in transactions involving other people, in relating with them, conscience has a place, a right to be present and to guide the relating with all its shades and nuances according to who is or are at the other end. On another side, there are people who do not know how to restrain the automatic appearance of their unquestioned system of values, to which they adhere fully, and who consider themselves entitled to require that others accept them too. These are the self-righteous who may also be right, but can also not notice when they are not. Education of conscience as a specific component of human evolution will include then that we become aware of ourselves, of the numerous circumstances when we can trespass and learn to control our involvements so that what we do serves the good of all. This consideration cannot be reached at any age and in the case of all human beings. There is a long period in life in which there is not enough experience, and the tools for going beyond the immediate are not available. Then, all we can ask for is what oneâ€™s awareness can grasp and act upon. If educators are around, they can force awareness of
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that which can be grasped, but has not yet been attempted;
2 wider terms of reference, in which one’s actions and statements can be better seen. Aiming at a functional working awareness of the good of all, we can start with a recognition, that what in one is self-centeredness and immediate response to anything which seems to encroach on one’s perception of one’s self-interest, is also at work in all others. Since the maintenance in all of one’s self-centeredness leads to competition, strife, opposition, it deprives us of the benefits of the cooperation of others, which we know we seek actively. Then we find ourselves being prepared to hold in us the existence of others as a permanent perception of reality and are prepared to enquire of what makes us less efficient at securing our self-interest. Examples of such workings, which are daily occurrences in our homes, can be used as points of concentration to add its dimension of conscience to our consciousness. Its expansion from single examples — perhaps separated from each other in time — to an overall sensitivity of the human realm, represents the frame of reference of a program for the education of conscience; open to all, everywhere. When conscience gains its level of constant, automatic presence in our self, all our thoughts and all our actions are for the good of all, they are then moral. When we all do it spontaneously without fuss, we are human and contributors to human evolution.
At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, during one of the annual conferences on linguistics, room was made for the new ways of teaching which have been coming to the market since the audio-lingual epidemics subsided. For years, The Silent Way, Community Language Learning, Suggestopedia were the commonly mentioned ones. Now there are three more: Total Personal Response, the Natural Approach and the Notional-Functional. All were represented by people who either are the originators of these various approaches or closely related to one of those and, at present, work on their promotion. Dr. Gattegno accepted an invitation eighteen months before the actual meeting when it was not certain that the step of including methods could be supported financially. Professor Robert Lado, emeritus, at Georgetown University in Washington D.C., was also there as a veteran in the field and speaking on behalf of what he called the “Total Approach” which integrates his very influential work of the ‘50s and ‘60s which was supported by the Modern Language Association, and therefore has been widely spread. Because it was a meeting of linguists, half the papers concerned presented research in that field. Listening to them, Dr. Gattegno decided to use his 40 minutes and the 20 reserved to questions, to what seemed more urgent to him to introduce all those who claim that language acquisition is important to them — whether in L1 or L2 — to an approach centered on awareness and energy rather than on the concepts he heard from the various speakers preceding him. Since he
knew such thinking was not in circulation, most of the time of the exposition was used to render evident that an active awareness is indispensable in order to learn how to acquire the environmental (L1) language. Babies, in their very early stages, do not speak, but work seriously at acquiring the criteria which permit the proper cracking of the language(s) around them. It is there that the objectivity of energy is helpful, directly in acquainting every child with the dynamics of muscle tones in the phonation system (chest for air flows, larynx and vocal cords for the first modulation of the flow, tongue and lips for further modulation) and so as to know what one utters. Subsequently, the energy in the utterances will affect the baby’s ears and a second set of criteria will be formed, coordinated with the first. “Talking” has been reserved for all this conscious apprenticeship which reflects that “in the beginning there were no words.” When words become the child’s center of attention it is as a set of blended sounds, stressed vowels in them; words blended into strings or phrases and vehicled by a melody characteristic of that language. The criterion which is operative at that level is called “rightness” and all babies concentrate on being right in their flow of sounds, long before they change it into what grammarians call “correctness” and make it accessible to linguists. Rightness matters to learners only. Once attentive to words, the vehicles of voices delivering the energy impacts, are now taken for granted with all their objective contributions to the totality which has become subconscious and the verbal dynamics, become the object of one’s awareness. Pin-pointedly, attentive to all the items involved, babies note both what is maintained and what varies and can therefore be so good at acquiring their L1, through knowing why the changes occur or not within the context of their perceptions of the world in which they live. Thus, acquisition of L1 starts with the mastery of all the components of talking sketched above till the day they notice that others do what they can do and thus find a bridge between their work and that of those in their environment. “Speaking” begins at that time and babies need to make use of —
their perception, to reach meanings,
2 their intelligence, to reach the concomitant variations and notice plurality, location in space and time, causality etc. .which affect words, 3 sensitivity to the fabric of speech made of interwoven components some of which ask for stable parts and some others for definite alterations. To speak L1, they use their powers of abstraction, or the simultaneous stressing and ignoring of elements in the energy that strikes them. Thus, acquisition is a very conscious process from the start. In the case of L2, the skilled learner of L1 can use the whole arsenal of relevant approaches available in order to enter into that new world. If that world exists only in the teacher’s mind then it is the teacher’s job to present L2 in terms of the criteria at work also in L1 and stress what is actually new, separately providing awareness of it and letting practice take care of retention. For example, the teacher can find the number of sounds of L2 contained in the student’s L1 and simply indicate that, since they are already known they do not have to be learned and ask for concentration on the other sounds in L2, thus reducing the task of learning. At this stage, the sets of Sound/Color Fidels of a few languages were shown to tell the audience that a certain amount of work had been done already to help them in this task. That was the only part of The Silent Way materials shown to the audience. Earl Stevick — who with Bernard Polski acted as assessor of the work done at this conference — expressed his satisfaction in hearing this talk which put a number of things into perspective for him too. Those who need to know more of The Silent Way will have to find some other sources and occasions.
2 A Week in Australia After twenty years of absence, Dr. Gattegno paid a visit to Australia where, among other things, meetings with educators took place. These were organized with little time to spare, since the trip had been decided only three weeks before arrival. The new school year had started a few weeks earlier after the long summer vacation. Arriving in Melbourne on the afternoon of Saturday, April 14th, the Sunday seminar from 9:00 to 5:00 was much easier than expected. Intensive as usual, it countered the jet lag and was enjoyed by all: the local people and the traveler. The first session — concerning the Spirit of English — was inconclusive since the meaning of these words was not at hand and was not given. The second session was fuller since it involved the group in the study of the Spanish Infused Reading Program. As usual, it yielded a great deal, in particular, about the discipline of learning which was not one of the highest. For the third session three Animated Geometry films (Circles in the Plane, Epi and Hypocycloids, and The Right Strophoid) were examined. The fourth session was devoted to general topics including the subordination of teaching to learning. At 5 o’clock a few more math films were shown as two math teachers arrived there to meet Dr. Gattegno to renew acquaintance after twenty years. The Monday seminar, “An Introduction to The Silent Way” lasted from 5:00 to 9:30, and covered much ground. It included a lesson with the French Sound/Color Fidel for five Indonesian teachers, in Melbourne to learn to teach English in their country. The French pronunciation they acquired in one hour was so much better than their English, acquired over a number of years, that the thirty or so participants felt The Silent Way had something to offer them which they could value and cherish. Many topics were touched upon in that short time and were knitted together in an original and effective way, in the opinion of the practicing Silent Way teachers present who said they learned a great deal that was new to them. Newcomers were excited rather than overwhelmed as they found many eye-openers in those hours.
The 20-hour workshop which followed during the three p.m. sessions from 3:30 to 10:00 on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, was much more conventional and practical. The classroom materials were taken in turn and a certain acquaintance with them was asked for by the forty plus participants. Since the discipline of learning here too, was not high, much time was spent on improving it. In fact, at the end everyone agreed that discipline of learning was important and must be one of the things to secure from their own students before deciding that they cannot teach them well. One of those days included an examination of work on the computer. Here again the Spanish Infused Reading was used and sections of Disks #1 and #2 of Visible and Tangible Math, served to study the structure of numeration in English and to introduce the cost of learning and ogdens. Both experiences touched the participants who had no idea such work had already been done and was already available. Three afternoons and evenings did not seem to be sufficient to take newcomers to a stage of readiness to implement The Silent Way in their classes although they very much desired it. At the final feedback session, requests to have further workshops were made but could not be considered. Dr. Gattegno needed a two-hour meeting with ATESOL officers in Sydney on the following Sunday a.m., to decide to return to Australia at the end of January â€˜85 and spend from 18 to 20 days on seminars in a few places on that continent and not only on foreign language teaching.
3 A Week in Japan A stop in Tokyo Met at Narita Airport (early in the morning), one day was used for interviews and visits since The Silent Way workshop could not be scheduled for that Tuesday as the invitation was only confirmed in Australia and the Japanese Association of Language Teachers (JALT) membership of the Tokyo Chapter is scattered around the capital.
Only about twenty people attended, but the work done was broad and essential to newcomers as well as to users of The Silent Way. To illustrate the subordination of teaching to learning, two Animated Geometry films were projected to start the workshop. This had a profound effect on some of the participants who had given up the thought that mathematics would ever make sense to them in this life. They expressed the hope that one day they will have a new chance to study that forbidden subject. To illustrate the need of starting courses by stressing the discipline of learning, the English Sound/Color Fidel proved both useful for some and threatening to others. This tour of the Pacific has brought to the fore that there is need in workshops to insist on the state of mind of the participants so that they catch the difference between working with people who are made to do all their share of the work and teaching from any other stance. It is very much worthwhile to spend some time in the beginning to get this new kind of presence from the students. Learning then is multiplied by a high coefficient. As a bonus, the traditional meaning of discipline is achieved: students are attentive. Once again, it became clear that the success of The Silent Way results from its foundation on the subordination of teaching to learning, rather than from the myth of silence or any other single technique and material that are part of it, and that observers find spectacular and can talk about. But, the subordination in question is not visible and so many miss finding it. By repeatedly calling attention to discipline, participants begin to be moved and say so at their final feedback. In Tokyo, this happened too, when the study of Infused Reading in Spanish, once more proved invaluable to force (gently) the nonSpanish speaking participants to achieve in less than 45 minutes an enviable pronunciation without hearing a single word of Spanish. The study of the first three word charts at various levels of competence allowed the demonstration of â€œlinguistic situationsâ€? with the rods and of reading and writing first by decoding color and later by designing on paper with ordinary writing implements the shapes they would see.
The day was variedly assessed by the participants, some of whom had achieved remarkable performances but did not believe them and only stressed some of their distrust of themselves and they put the blame on the work of the seminar. On balance, it was a very positive day. Teaching real beginners at the International Buddhist University near Osaka By chance almost a day of Dr. Gattegno’s stay in Japan went on a visit to IBU (and its attached high school) where Tom Pendergast heads the English Language Dept. The very keen top people in that institution (Buddhist priests) took time to ask questions, to express appreciation of Tom’s innovations (which include the use of the video program “English, The Silent Way”) and to watch two Animated Geometry films and also part of the two evening lessons to boys in their first year of junior high school (age 1213 and numbering 34 and 36 respectively). There is no need to describe these lessons which many readers of this Newsletter can easily imagine. Instead, one of the outcomes of the sessions may be considered since it is new and was felt important enough to keep Dr. Gattegno at work on it during the night which followed the evening sessions. At an interview for a Journal in Tokyo, the interviewer had asked Dr. Gattegno, “What relation is there between The Silent Way and Zen?” This question had been asked before in 1972 in New York by a Chinese teacher. Dr. Gattegno’s reply on both occasions had been: “Find out, I am not sure I can say anything valid. I know too little of Zen.” But, in this Buddhist University, the penny dropped and an insight resulted. The regime of the school stresses meditation, concentration, hard work, and relevance of Buddhism in the lives of people, personally, at home and nationally. But when considering academic preparation, it is allowed to fall back on transmission of knowledge by
whatever method, ancient or modern. During these two lessons it became possible for Dr. Gattegno to relate to the inner dynamics required by The Silent Way and to see in them precisely the disciplines which are fostered by those who believe we can be responsible for our actions and enter into them in order to improve our consciousness of ourselves and take ourselves beyond our present stage. Empirically, without projections and expectations. Working pinpointedly on what we know as â€œnothingsâ€? (but are clearly keys to a succession of masteries which together constitute a mastery of our involvement in activities, our achieving very quickly a properlywilled flow of words, the sharpening of our vision, of our hearing, of our utterances because of the presence of our awareness in our sensory organs and our voluntary muscles) changes learning into a particularly apt field for reaching the inner peace which is concomitant with the clear knowledge of what is asked of us and how we meet it. Thus, it became possible to see all the requests made on the students (to integrate the Sound/Color chart so as to produce easily, quicklystrung rectangles as sounds which can be held together, acted upon, molded to satisfy demands of the silent teachers, which need interpretation and translation) as powers on the new medium and becoming more and more an effective instrument. By relaxing, surrendering, students achieve mastery of the task and encounter the promises which follow it. Making students work towards mastery is therefore the meaning of proper teaching. There will be no actual academic knowledge to remember, instead an expression of oneself as a more competent learner capable of tackling larger challenges, more easily. Teaching becomes spiritual guidance; learning, a freeing process which confirms the humanness of the will and its power over that part of the environment which needs to be submitted to permit further growth and evolution. Lessons of this kind, if multiplied and extended to all areas of education, will serve human evolution and make modern school education one more example of the one brought to the notice of mankind by Socrates and the Buddha, two and a half thousand years 34
ago. If it is true that only awareness is educable in man, then why try anything else? In that high school of a suburb of Osaka, it became plain that Zen can be tailored to the age of school students and the expectations of our modern technological and economical societies so as to maintain public academic education within spiritual education. The 3-day seminar in Osaka In Spain, improvisation is the form of planned organization taken to its extreme. It has worked for centuries. So when, at short notice, Fusako Allard and Vincent Broderick agreed to work on arranging a 3-day seminar on The Silent Way in Osaka, there were chances that it would succeed. Twenty people could have taken care of the fee, forty responded leaving a margin for the local expenses. Each of the 3 days was very different, in content and yield, from the others. Most of the participants were newcomers to the subject and not used to the tempo set by Dr. Gattegno in his seminars and workshops. To make things worse the first two sessions were taken up by a study of language teaching as lacking in contacts with the learners and by the acquisition of L1. This last study led to the introduction of the badly needed tools: awareness of energy and its processing from the start by babies and young infants. Language teachers rarely, if ever, think of such matters and the concepts seem strange and difficult to them. But, somehow the realities behind the words emerge because of the fact that everyone has been a baby and recognizes that the processing of energy has indeed taken place in their own cases. The study of â€œtalkingâ€? took one session and seemed to make sense mainly because everyone understood that only babies could teach themselves how to produce the many components of a flow of words we utter all the time. These are seen by linguists only as words, when in fact they mobilize the will, the soma and many mental qualities like discrimination, intelligence, sensitivity, retention, abstraction, etc. which no parent can teach a child. So, the importance of learning is seen as that of spontaneous learning when the teacher is successful because he is so close to the learner to identify with him and does not differ from him by the amount of knowledge assumed to be essential in the teacher-student
relationship. Instead, what matters is vulnerability, patience, acceptance of errors, calm before the unknown, the art of posing questions to the unknown and so on. Because babies do the right things something as formidable as learning the mother tongue (so young and so well, in such a short time) they could serve us to know where to go to learn to teach well and successfully. The study of speaking was tackled much later. In between, the seminar considered how the attributes of babies, left with us at all ages, can be re-evoked by teachers relating to them by the means of some of The Silent Way instruments. For instance, how “making noises” can be a remarkable way to work on the production of a good pronunciation and a modulated flow of words if the Sound/Color Fidel is used and the students play the game. This consists in not losing contact with the proper triggering of sounds by the perception of the rectangles touched. Words are formed of strung noises triggered by the teacher touching a string of rectangles at a certain speed. The students order their mouths to produce them. Then it becomes possible to work on the string produced to improve, if need be, the quality of the sounds so as to approximate those of natives. Doing this on a sequence of words will produce sentences which most often sound strangely as if a native is uttering them. The capacity cultivated as “talking,” at the level of the non-baby student will appear to a native very much like “speaking,” since only for him does the sentence trigger meaning. By selecting sentences made of words which only call in the rectangles being worked on at that time, it becomes possible to generate insights which deliver meaning, by-passing translation as well as explanation through non-verbal illustration. Thus, students find themselves speaking to each other with a good pronunciation only one or two hours after starting to learn a new language. Through this exercise students are entirely dependent on the teacher. But, if numeration is the topic selected to illustrate the spoken language mastery reached, then the initiative is restored to the students since they can string random sequences of up to 12 digits and read or enunciate the name of
1 numeral generated with total ease and responsibility, just like natives, and even tend to make these believe they are one of them. Since words have no meaning of their own, it becomes necessary to present linguistic situations from which the students can extract meaning and attach to this the string of words that can be made by pointing at the appropriate rectangles. A set of colored rods is ideal for such an apprenticeship. Students are led to recognize the consistencies of sounds which trigger colors, actions, transformations within the statements caused by the previous associations and the alterations in the initial situation. In this, it becomes possible to pass on to the students: 1
a set of words whose meanings are triggered as soon as they are formed with the pointer,
2 a multitude of sentences out of a small number of words, 3 a confidence that the new language is not foreign and can be manipulated with ease within the vocabulary encountered. “Much language with little vocabulary” is what this was called twentyfive years ago. The study of speaking led to that of English per se as it is feasible with the word charts. Two sessions on this allowed the participants, which included some Japanese teachers whose English needed polishing, to understand directly the power of such instruments to make English accessible, in its complexity, its spirit and its originality, in thorough pinpointed steps where all was clear and attainable. To illustrate this, a viewing of the Promotional Tape for “English, The Silent Way” video series was used and discussed. (In and around Osaka there are a few places using the tapes routinely and successfully, but only a few participants had any idea of their power in meeting what they wish to achieve with their students. Their comments after the Promotional Tape viewing were more than positive. People working in the region were encouraged to go and see
places where they were at work — Didasko and the International Buddhist University for example.) There had been an opportunity during that workshop to refer to the Infused Reading diskettes. Less than an hour could be devoted to a showing of it and its significance to foreign language teachers in forcing awareness of the sounds, stresses, phrasings and melodies of a language. Spanish was selected, here too, as it is the most economical of those existing today. As usual, its effect was electrifying and served at removing any remaining resistances in the participants’ minds for the subordination of teaching to learning. Much more than can be said in a brief summary, happened in this intensive 24-hour workshop. The final feedback was unusually overwhelmingly on the positive side. On the whole, it became clear that much useful research on essential issues of learning and teaching had been done over a long time and a hope of vastly improved teaching was clearly justified. Essentially practical, this workshop, with its demonstrations and exercises, avoided losing the audience in theoretical considerations or tempting it to adopt a particular approach was a panacea. Courageous people saw that they can learn to work better by taking the plunge; cautious ones promised themselves to study further and take a course The Silent Way in a language they do not know. Others expressed the need of time to digest what seemed to them too rich a diet or banquet for which not enough time to eat had been provided. All were determined not to stop searching and study one or more of the issues raised. Dr. Gattegno, encouraged by the feedback, added some words at the end linking the study of awareness which occupied the weekend on the specified field of language learning with the offerings of Zen as it came to him after his night’s sleep at the International Buddhist University. His main point being that he saw clearly how the disciplines of learning required to be on top of the intellectual demands of academic subjects met in schools, can serve the whole person in the manner Buddhists’ traditions in Japan intend to do it by the exercises which awake the spirit in the people. Of course, this remains to be proved and worked out further.
Microcomputer in education At the end of that workshop, a meeting open to the public had been announced on the topic of the microcomputer in education. Forty people came. A very kind Apple agent lent his equipment for the three days and especially for that evening. Two hours were barely sufficient to convey what the Visible & Tangible Math and Infused Reading programs do for the improvement of mathematics education and literacy. A small class within the class made of three intelligent adults achieved very little with level I of the French Infused Reading as, instead of playing the game, they gave their attention to their thoughts which were about other things. The part of the audience made of participants to the weekend and who had been so successful with Spanish saw clearly that the Infused Reading approach could be extended to any language. Others asked how it would work for nonalphabetic languages like Chinese and Japanese (Kanji). A quick look at the complete Sound/Color Fidel for Japanese in color on the computer gave a very tentative and vague idea of a possibility. This was not elaborated and Dr. Gattegno said he would not give his secret away. Nevertheless, entrepreneurs in the audience asked to be kept informed of progress made in New York.
4 Two days in Seoul, Korea This visit to Korea, the first one ever for Dr. Gattegno, was arranged on the telephone from Australia. Friends of The Silent Way, members of the Association of the English Language Teachers of Korea (AELTK), expressed keenness to have him visit them and demonstrate his teaching personally after others did so since 1970. The organizer, Ms. Fran Norell, director of the Language Teaching Research Center, which used The Silent Way for years and purchased the video tape series two years ago (c.f. our Newsletter Vol. XII No. 2, for a report on its use during the first year). Fran, who was one of the teachers until she succeeded Barbara Mintz, took upon herself a considerable burden to make the visit a success. And, apparently it was.
The Tuesday sessions included a 5-hour seminar, a dinner with the participants and an evening (8:30 -10:30) open to the public. In both sessions the demonstration consisted of a lesson which lasted one hour each time with the French Sound/Color Fidel, using a class within the class. The first had five members and the second six. The first came after more than 100 minutes of presentation of the relation of the acquisitions of L1 and of L2, which here too, seemed to interest the audience. The second followed a short introduction to the effortlessness of language learning and was intended to illustrate it. In both cases, the ease with which the vowels of French were produced impressed those present (who knew some French) and led to comments which indicated that the approach through the Sound/Color Fidel was appreciated. The Wednesday was spent at the Center, meeting with teachers there and spending some time with the director who kindly showed some video tapes of students learning with the video series for English and expressed her satisfaction with their uses at the Center. One of the meetings with teachers was on the teaching of Korean which was done there, making use of a copy of Dr. Gattegnoâ€™s materials of 1974 which include 11 Word Charts and one Fidel. The teachers at the Center made a Sound/Color Chart and a second modified Fidel. Another of the meetings with the Centerâ€™s English Language Teachers (10 of them) in order to show them how the same wall charts can be used to widen their understanding of their own language; in other words that beginners as well as very advanced students can benefit from The Silent Way. This group is prepared to continue to work on all the 21 charts to gain as much as possible from these materials now seen as almost inexhaustible. A rich experience for all concerned in spite of its brevity.
5 Two stops in Honolulu On the way to Australia and back from Japan, Dr. Gattegno spent the first three days and then two in Hawaii where he had meetings with State education officers and university teachers on the subjects of Math
Mini-Tests and Visible & Tangible Math, literacy and language teaching in the various languages of the area and in particular Hawaiian. The friendly islanders made the stays very pleasant, but it seemed that it was not that easy to find ways of organizing workshops and seminars. Short talks were all people could attend and not many people took advantage of the chance of looking at the improvement of schools through the subordination of teaching to learning. Tentative return visits were discussed. Possibly on the way to Australia next January or next summer when Japan and/or Korea confirm the workshops contemplated.
6 Newsletter renewals Some readers responded at once to our question about the continuation of this Newsletter and sent their subscription for Volume XIV starting with the next issue in September, ‘84. It would help to hear from you. Send to the attention of “Yolanda” the amounts of U.S. $15, $19, or $22 (whichever is applicable in your area), representing the cost of the ‘84-’85 Newsletter respectively in North America, Europe & Asia.
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 17, 2009