Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc.
vol. XIV no. 1
First published in 1984. Reprinted in 2009. Copyright ÂŠ 1984-2009 Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc. Author: Caleb Gattegno All rights reserved ISBN 978-0-87825-318-0 Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc. 2nd Floor 99 University Place, New York, N.Y. 10003-4555 www.EducationalSolutions.com
The arbitrary ending of one volume with the June issue and the beginning of another with the September issue, serves one purpose — it allows the editor-publisher to decide on whether to use one volume to thrash out a set of connected questions or to consider each issue as a unit sufficient to provoke readers to study one question for a while and shift to another with the following issue. Thus, we took advantage on two occasions (“The Year of the Child” and “The Year of the Disabled”) to devote five issues to cover aspects of the topic selected by the United Nations for all sorts of organizations to work on. This volume will not have one such title but will broadly speaking, submit to the readers one question which we presume to be one of the important ones occupying them: “How is it that humans have had and still have, so many opinions on all sorts of matters? and is there a chance that they will ever agree on anything?” Of course, a good question is one which generates many others and the successive five issues of our Newsletter (Volume XIV) will be considered as independently readable and triggering independent trains of thoughts and feelings. Readers might find as a crystalizing thought what others do not find so central and we might end up with as many divergent opinions as when we started. We shall then have to start afresh and try to do a better job of looking for what creates concensus among humans. This issue takes up the matter in terms of awareness. We can find in the world literature any number of attempts at clarifying our minds struck by challenges we could not leave alone or which did not leave us alone. Philosophers (very great, great, or less great ones) were those who found in themselves some answers which the rest of us adopted totally or partially as our own because they soothed us in our confrontation with inner challenges. Today, we must try to approach these same challenges without claiming for us the status of philosophers and without intending to do more than keep the ball rolling. The scientist in the Science of
Education, uses awareness as his instrument, has it got anything to offer in the study of this question? News Items are at the end of this issue.
Table of Contents
1 Where Do We Start, Generally? ......................................... 1 2 What Is A Hard Problem? ................................................. 7 3 The Sense Of Truth.......................................................... 13 4 The Relativity Of Awareness............................................ 19 News Items ......................................................................... 27 1 A Five-Day Spanish Silent Way Class At The Jesuit Novitiate In St. Paul, Minnesota ................................................................. 27 2 A Three-Day Seminar On “Action” ..............................................30 3 Summer Seminar In France ......................................................... 33 Announcements ............................................................................... 39
1 Where Do We Start, Generally?
We have had many questions from the start of our lives but we could only couch them in words many months after we were born. At a certain age (called the “why” age) we went on asking why, sometimes not concerned with the answer because we were simply studying the power of that word to elicit responses from grownups. So long as we get answers which meet one of our local needs in the here and now, we move on to meet other challenges. We therefore have criteria to decide whether our questions (not always verbal ones) have received some adequate answers. For example, we know whether we have had enough food or are still hungry; whether we can go to sleep in the circumstances we are in; whether our food, too hot to be put in our mouths, becomes sufficiently less hot to be swallowed; whether it is safe to speak and have our mouths full; whether the moon in the sky will still follow us when we turn ‘round and go on walking; whether there are sounds (like the thunder or a sanitation truck) we are unable to utter and should not attempt, and others we can successfully attempt; whether we can count or not, on people around us to give us a hand in some circumstances and leave us alone in others; whether some of our desires can be satisfied, and which these are; whether our pain in some circumstances subsides and when is that; whether our apologizing when causing some pain, can diminish that pain and how it looks when the pain is inflicted on us and we hear an apology, and so on.
Our experience is so vast, our experiences so varied, that we know we do not have equal understanding of what happens to us and what we make happen. Therefore, we know in some cases very clearly what to think of this or that, and in some other cases not at all how to make up our mind. Hence, we all find ourselves in life in a universe structured by our knowledge or awareness of what comes our way: sometimes we are very sure, and do not imagine that anyone will not feel or sense or do exactly as we feel, sense or do. Some other times, we are so much out of our depth that we can only believe that whoever is telling us something, must be on top of it, although we have no way of knowing that. Some other times we find ourselves able to find a spot where we can put one toe, hoping to make a beachhead of it and progress in the new domain opening up to us. Other modalities of linking with other peopleâ€™s experiences or experience exist, and each of us undertaking such study may add to our collective understanding of where we are collectively in our search for truth in this area. It must take a tremendous alertness from us to be able to find out at every moment of any of our involvements with any challenge, when it is that we really know, when it is that we only believe we have an entry in it; when it is that we let ourselves be convinced and appear as gullible to ourselves; when it is that we are in contact with something above our heads; when it is that we can reach some dynamic behind the phenomenon or phenomena which come our way, and from this feel we shall be able to penetrate reality a little more deeply. Because of the demands of such alertness we generally approach things clumsily or dogmatically or do not get concerned with them at all, and rarely educate ourselves to become more and better prepared to let the reality and truth of challenges reach us. As a result, we rarely experience the benefits of cooperation and more often than not, are facing muddled issues: even among experts. For, we start with much more belief than actual knowledge as the history of the natural sciences and of mathematics teaches us; and in other fields more so. 2
1 Where Do We Start, Generally?
An increase in alertness may help. Alertness about alertness. In other words, knowing ourselves in the here and now, as life unfolds around a focal point which involves us, with ourselves alone or with others, must become a permanent activity of ours. But we more easily notice how we move from one involvement to another and when we are taken by each. Hence, we rarely realize which is our style of working, how much we are lived by our preconceptions and prejudices. These are, in fact, what we have to watch more particularly in order to come close to them, learn how they manage to reduce our capabilities of being with the reality of challenges. Our preconceptions and prejudices are not only imposed on us by our environment in moments of non-attention. We cooperate with the impacts by letting them occupy our minds outside the uses of our critical powers. There may be little time to exercise our alertness and we help circumstances to fool us. Then we identify with an experience, far from foolproof, and somehow become reluctant to grant that we were gullible, seduced or misled, and through identification give substance to that which may lack it or has little of it. Besides, what history can teach us of people who should have known better, in virtue of some position of leadership which channeled information to them â€” but still acted unwisely, stubbornly or on false pride â€” we can find around ourselves so many examples of thoughtlessness after putting up a fight to justify ourselves as if it were so hard to be what we are, sometimes right, sometimes wrong. It seems that because of the distance between a close contact with ourselves and our own dynamics, and the effect of our preconceptions on our consciousness we select to adhere to ideas rather than let truth and reality guide us. Ideas gain a reality not their own. We allow them to gain a status in us which translates itself by a considerable amount of energy our psyche or our affectivity passed in them, so that they are felt as more important than they are, emotionally charged and attaching us to the elements in our minds and not at all to the infinitely 3
small energy content of ideas. Our participation becomes a criterion of truth and reality and we no longer know how to distinguish these from our beliefs and adherences. We keep ourselves in tracks which do not lead us to the places from which we can clearly and confidently decide that we know what we are doing and what we are thinking and why. It is difficult to believe that most of us are propelled into situations of which so little is accessible to us, and that we stay in them and weave a life around them oblivious of their precariousness and are shocked when we realize that they are so precarious. Of course, this awareness must be tempered by the observation that there are many activities of ours which are routine and in which all seems to work as if we were on top of things. If we take them as models to reach our place in life, we miss altogether our lack of preparation in the meeting of the unknown. So many of us are only prepared to receive what we invest in and expect positive returns from. So few of us know we are not at the helm of life and cannot count on luck and its permanent presence in what we engage in. So few of us do live as if bad luck can strike at any moment and see it at least as likely as good luck to come our way. We start with expectations which artificially keep our morale high and detest the intrusion of challenges which require that we recast our views on life. To be identified with their outlook, which has never been examined, seems to be what people prefer. Ideas about ourselves, the world, and our place in it, which result from impacts we do not control, gain such an ascendance on us, that we let them dictate to us what we should be, how we should behave, even what we should think on a large number of our involvements. We get attached to those ideas and we do not see how much we blew them up and possibly made them far more important than they actually are. When we confront a model like ours but held by an adversary, we are ready to object in the other to what we accept so easily in ours. We recognize double standards in others but not in ourselves. We detest them in others but find them innocuous in ourselves and perfectly justifiable in our case. Our intolerance does not appear to us as such in us. On the contrary, we may stress our sensitivity, our acceptance of others while we boast that we know our minds so well that no one can
1 Where Do We Start, Generally?
make us change our views on a number of things. To make one universe static we simplify it considerably but do not notice that. We do not see that the elimination of change from our model makes it invalid and we go on using it as if it were adequate. Generally, therefore, we start from platforms we can say very little about, which we do not equip ourselves to criticize, to examine in terms of solidity, elasticity, and their relationships to where we want to soar, and of adequacy to do the jobs for which we created them. Such jobs include giving us a true security so that we shall not be failing in our most important enterprises. These include the pursuits of our health and happiness, for which there is everything but security. If we feel the need to re-examine our stands in life we may have a chance of giving ourselves a start which will agree with the real texture of our human universe and, although we can assure ourselves of nothing, we will sense that we have increased our chances of remaining face to face with what comes our way. Alertness would pay as we shall be readier to meet the truth of reality and the reality of what is true in our case.
2 What Is A Hard Problem?
In our study of problems and solutions (Newsletter Volume VIII No. 2), we stated that a question is experienced as a problem if it created a tension in us which stayed with us for a certain duration until in some way it left us when a solution appeared. We even suggested that the word solution had been selected because of this awareness. Like sugar or salt dissolved in water to form a solution, tensions dissolved when a solution appeared. It then became possible to measure the difficulty of a problem by the time and effort it took to find a solution to it. There are still problems which resist the assaults of scientists and are considered hard after efforts made over generations. Some others yielded to collective assaults. These problems generally yielded when it was possible to adopt a viewpoint unrelated to the kinds of attacks obtaining till then. The brain-mind connection is an example of the first. Seeing the other side of the moon, hopeless till the late sixties when earthian machines went â€˜round the moon and took long distance photographs of the far side, is an example of the other. Of course, we all know of hard problems in our own lives and often can only end up resigning ourselves to living with them. Sometimes we are lucky and find a solution unexpectedly and resignation is replaced by an enthusiasm for a new field opening up in front of us. The histories of the sciences are full of them and, for scientists, these problems are often their life problems. For the ordinary people who cannot claim for themselves the label of scientists, there may be some value in seeing
how some of the lasting hard problems can lose their hardness by simply shifting one’s awareness and this, not at random. Some of these simple shifts are seen as simple by the performer even if others see them as strokes of genius. By entertaining such shifts as examples and learning to transfer the process of finding a solution and not the solution itself, we may be educating ourselves and perhaps others in handling so-called problems in our lives. This does not mean that hard problems are illusions — though that may well be — but we might approach them with a grain of salt and greater possibilities if we attempt to work on our preconceptions, prejudices and a priori viewpoints. *** I often tell the story of my work on sleep which during 39 years eluded me, before I found that the whole of my approach to it was faulty and a radically different one presented itself to me (as I presented it to the readers of this Newsletter in Volume XIII No. 4 issue, concerned with time and the generation of one’s past). I tried everything I could think of (or others thought of) to no avail, I always knew it really eluded me, in spite of the many interesting things found by the way which were valuable in themselves, but not as a solution of the long and often intense tension in front of one of the easiest things to do (fall asleep) and most common aftermaths (feel fresh after a short or long nap). When I understood sleep I knew it was because I had abandoned many of my investments in finding a solution to its existence and meaning, while only considering sleep in the waking state. A very hard problem became the story of hopeless searches for what were facets rather than the true challenge. Perhaps I can view most of my solutions of my own hard problems as dialogues with them — and many of them in sleep — until I realized that solutions must resemble the problems. For instance, a problem acknowledged by all researchers as very hard, was: “How do babies learn to speak their mother tongue?” No progress towards the solution was possible until all the useless assumptions 8
2 What Is A Hard Problem?
made were abandoned and the formulation of the challenge became: “What can babies do on their own?” Among those they do, there are some related to their use of their phonation system in order to know what it can do and then to how to use it for one’s own ends. Looking at my epistemological and educational work I find that problems which seemed very hard to me became truly easy enough for the tensions created to vanish when I became aware of their reality and saw them for what they were: created by my clumsy self sticking to ways which were dead ends and then not wanting to abandon these ways. As soon as I made myself available by withdrawing my energies from my prejudices, a path full of light appeared ahead of me and I saw what I needed to do to take it to the assigned end. (This occasionally took weeks, months, or even years.) Working at successful solutions and writing about them may give a wrong impression about hard problems, some of them staying with us till we die and no one suspecting they defeated us. Since man is essentially ignorant and at the same time capable of becoming aware of his awareness, people believe that all questions must have answers. But asking oneself: “Can I know what all the inhabitants of the world think now?” or “What is every one of the individual cells of my soma, actually doing at this moment?” or “What is happening in every cubic centimeter (cc) of the sun?” or “Which will be the most important event of January 1st of the year 2000?” all easy to ask but impossible to answer now, or investigate, or forecast. Already in our Newsletter Volume XI No. 2 (Solving Problems) we raised the question of knowing another person and found that it seems beyond the reach of every one of us at present. For those engaged in such searches it may be the hardest of hard problems. Of course, knowing oneself may be a hard problem too. But knowing another person makes this one still harder because that person may not want to be known or come closer, or is interested in defeating any attempt at knowing him or her self. This presence of another will, another mind, another Weltanschauung, will suffice to make the encounter impossible. 9
For those who find in their lives such difficulties we must contend that there are insoluble problems forcing upon us the fraility of our good will alone in front of a challenge. These situations are solved by miracles â€” which we cannot deny exist once we witness them. The miracle can be qualified ipso facto as two people taking at the same time steps only related with respect to the challenge, otherwise entirely individual and separate. Though such situations exist and justify the label of hard problems, what matters still more to humans is the anatomy of some solutions from which we can learn to reduce the number and difficulty of hard problems. Can one who is stuck to some viewpoint, about any matter, manage to get unstuck? Technically speaking, there may be a number of ways of doing this according to the special content of the situation. Still, if we are vigilant and alert and catch ourselves in one instance of a situation in which we know ourselves as stuck, we can persist in maintaining the awareness just revealed and keep the challenge in front of us, reduce its emotional impact, remove or prune extraneous elements and turn the remaining ones â€˜round to examine to what extent some of them too can be worked on to be pruned. The essential ingredient is that no effort is made to dismiss the challenge. For example, in cases of depression or insomnia, it is recommended, whenever it is possible, to look at them instead of taking some tablets which hide the difficulty momentarily but do not solve the problems. Only by first accepting to remain in contact with the state which is found undesirable can one learn which it is, how it works and affects one and have any hope of coming to terms with it. Before we look for a remedy we must become acquainted with the trouble. No escape from it will provide a chance to assess that it is being tackled. Resilience teaches us that we can stand a lot and can entertain much which provides knowledge for our states on which we can work. Fears are better faced than left unattended, otherwise they never leave us. Many young children, accidentally involved in some situations for which they had had no time yet to prepare themselves, may carry a traumatism for up to 70 years or more, making some aspect of their lives unbearable. For such people, implementing a solution is another hard problem.
2 What Is A Hard Problem?
Nevertheless, on reflection, it seems important to bring to people living in contact with the effects of some trauma untraceable or intractable, to give a chance to their self in the state of wakefulness to come close to their actual sleeplessness, or their depression. The sufferers are the only ones who can do that and however demanding, it will remain their responsibility to get out of it unless they agree to give up and go on suppressing the symptoms with some drugs. Our only way of truly knowing what such troubles are is to live up to their reality and let the self act knowingly in contact with them. We shall meet hard problems simply because we are not at the helm of life, that events involve us without asking whether we want to or not. We are equipped with intelligence and energy. We have time and we need to develop patience in the way a pregnant woman does when she goes along with the child developing within her and looks forward to a distant delivery, becoming more sensitive to its phases and not knowing what its happening will bring, facing each day as it occurs. â€œPatience is not a virtue, itâ€™s a necessityâ€? and it is our greatest ally when we face the unknown future and some of our hard problems.
3 The Sense Of Truth
We accept that our senses receive impulses from outside and store them in special locations in the brain. We accept that we can recall a memory and recognize it to be authentic and ours; and this many times a day, over many years. We all do this and never ask ourselves whether there is something to question about such functionings. For example, whether there is, in each of us, an unnoticed sense which takes care of the authenticity of our inner life and has other attributes besides. We called it “the sense of truth” when it occurred to us a quarter of a century ago and mentioned it on many occasions but left it for today to present it to our readers more systematically. *** There are a number of layers in one’s awareness and one’s self can be present at any one of them. First, one can notice a thing outside oneself such as an object or a sound, or an example. One’s awareness is on that thing. Second, one can notice that one is seeing or hearing; third, that one is looking or listening or that one is present in one’s eyes or ears; fourth, that one is dialoguing with the thing trying to notice separately, say, color, shape, shades, distances or pitch, intensity, location of a thing. Fifth, one can notice that one is noticing and how. Sixth, one can notice that one is certain that the appearance is also the reality. There may be more.
All these layers can be reached either separately or in conjunction. Awareness is all of them, and awareness of these awarenesses is in the self. When the self enters the sixth layer and is able to distinguish appearance and reality, we can say it reaches its sense of truth; having reached the thing, its attributes, the ways perception works, and still stating what is. This can be passed on as an experience of oneâ€™s self to be retained as part of oneâ€™s experience with its attribute of being true. To distinguish truth and reality is the work of that sense in the self. It is true that we register an optical illusion. There is no doubt about the perception: the reality of the perception is confirmed by the sense of truth, but the interpretation of say an optical effect (as with water in the case of a mirage) can be submitted again to the scrutiny of the sense of truth and found wanting. There is no truth in that illusion although it is real. The sense of truth is at work both in the perception of appearances and of realities. It is it which questions further and wants to know which one is present in oneâ€™s involvement. It is it which alerts the self and makes us into true critics. It is it which we find as presence in our vigilance, an aspect of our self at work. For some purposes awareness suffices. For some finer searches we need to specialize a functioning; and in such cases we may call awareness a sense of truth and thus be more precise. Hence, that sense works in the way awareness does; but, because it is a special awareness leading to a special recognition, it is epistemologically important to stress it separately. In so doing, we are closer to the self and its attributes and give meaning to a number of its involvements; thus serving the purpose of clarity required by the self when it produces experiences to be used from now on. It is not retention alone which tells us that we heard this or that, the reference to the specificity is the work of the sense of truth present side by side in each perception. Its impact is so strong that we are prepared to fight on its behalf.
3 The Sense Of Truth
So long as we do not need to be concerned with the subtleties of how we operate in all circumstances, as humans, we can feel that the introduction of yet another sense is unnecessary, and in fact it has not been felt needed in the past. But subtleties in our inner lives are everything and gain in importance as soon as we delve a little deeper into ourselves. The recognition of the simultaneous co-presence in us of a number of workings of our inner energy and their attribution by the self, to any one of their specific functionings, can be considered as the province of the sense of truth in the self. A cursory examination already yields how important all this is to the self in order to account for itself, its attributes and their workings, and the various relations of the self to the non-self as acknowledged by the self. Awareness as the broad attribute of the self concerned with knowing at all levels and in all fields, needs that specialized attribute to permeate all ways of knowing and keeping us out of the dilemma of our own reality in a universe constructed by selves which include ours. The recognition of a sense of truth does not result from stating its existence as a convenient hypothesis in epistemology (the science of knowing). It is the recognition by the self that, in order to pass something as reflecting its attributes, it must have an attribute itself which passes as merged awarenesses all the awarenesses needed to generate that thing in oneâ€™s consciousness. As experiences go on to form our Experience (with a capital e), the self has to let its sense of truth stamp each experience as having such or such an attribute and how it relates to other experiences so as to retain it for what it is. In an evocation of it, the self recognizes that indeed it was so and can be used as such. Hence, all day, every day, the working of memory includes the presence of our sense of truth to certify it is our memory which is at work, make us believe it, count on it and be guided by it in what we do. When we speak, the self monitors what we say and we must conclude that the sense of truth is at work to let the statements referring to anything which is to be vouched as true for us and conforming with our intention to pass on to others what we know to be true, or not. Because 15
humans can lie they can simulate the attributes of truth in the lies they utter. That is also why we can say that we cannot lie to ourselves and that we keep lies apart by using the same sense of truth as we use for truths. That sense only informs the self about truth and non-truth leaving lying and the speaking of the truth to the self and to some others of its attributes. Imagination, intelligence, virtual actions can merge with the sense of truth to produce more comprehensive actions of the self in the realms where they are displayed. *** It is our sense of truth which keeps in contact with our sense that we are right and wrong, or good and harmful. It is it which sustains our will when we select a stand asserting our right to be considered as this or that. It is it which assists our intelligence when we pursue a research in whatever field to find out what is true in that field. It is it which moves us in changing something in a work of art of ours so as to make it agree with our taste and aesthetic sense: a word or a phrase in a poem; a color or a line in a picture; a note or a bar in a composition; a response in a play; a scene in a novel; a sequence of images in a film, etc. It is it which warns us that some of our actions are harmful to us if they conflict with natural or legal laws and follow the amendments to vouch their validity when we alter our course. The sense of truth like all our senses evolves over the span of our lives because the self is at first only concerned with the edifice of the soma in-utero, then mainly concerned with the demands of the vegetative system afterbirth, and later of the universes of perception, of action, etc. with their specific functionings. Sometimes the self becomes accutely aware that it is using it but does not need to specify it otherwise than as awareness, while at other times it becomes the corrector in attempts entered upon in phase one of learnings where errors occur naturally. The sense of truth produces logical systems accompanying the successive absolutes of our growth in awareness, our expanding experience, our more articulate psyche providing the instruments of action at these levels of living.
3 The Sense Of Truth
It is in this transformation of the sense of truth into logical systems that mankind has stated its awareness of its existence and how it can become a collective instrument for exploration of fields of knowledge and the creation of facts of awareness which become the various sciences: facts of biology, of physics, of chemistry, of sociology and so on. The successive logical systems are objectivations of the self using the already existing structures to ascertain that they work â€œproperlyâ€? by themselves or with others. By referring to one sense of truth and successive logical systems we make our lives easier for we can now understand: 1
how our soma develops its own vigilant system which keeps it from warning the self when all works well, i.e. functioning with the energies of the psyche flowing within the soma to maintain the many subtle balances, but warning the self, through the appearance of pain, that all is not well and other actions are required;
2 how perception is forming the proper and adequate images as inner substitutes for outside reality, holding them together with the help of neuronic assemblies, to give us an inner world reflecting the outer world to the extent it is perceived; 3 how action integrating perception weaves criteria of possibility and compatibility, keeping energy expenditures within bounds acceptable to the soma and its latent energies, and thus develops a logic of action which when welded to virtual actions will produce the logic of Aristotelian writers â€” or that part of the logic of logicians based on the principles of identity, of the excluded third, and of inference; 4 how affectivity can widen virtual action to include the imagination and its disciplined products, observing the logic of thought but creating new entities passed onto others as new definitions; 5 how a new kind of truth, presented in the guise of probability (through the means of statistics), must be accepted as the only way of handling situations in which schemas replace individuals and are submitted to effects insensitive to more than a few attributes attached to the
schemas — used mainly for action in society or in communities; 6 how truth is widened to be operational outside conditions which created the various logics but did not foresee the widening of entities so as to include the whole of mankind, a future far enough not to be known, speeds of computing never foreseen, and the logic of “nothings”— that truth which is perceived by acquaintance, contemplation and intuition.
4 The Relativity Of Awareness
Once we learn to use awareness as an instrument for our understanding of ourselves and of others, we discover a number of important fields of study in which crops of new facts spring up to our delight. . . and dismay. Delight, because we feel creative in front of so much that is new, and dismay, because of the vastness of the fields uncovered and the sense of our own limitations for the tasks ahead. When two people examine the same challenge, it is most unlikely that they will come up with the same observations. Being different in so many ways, their sights cannot coincide and they may state different awarenesses about what they studied. There may be a common area of agreement whose extension cannot be forecast, but at the same time there will be disagreements simply because of the inherent differences between the two. It is so rare that a challenge is so small for only one view of it to be possible, that, generally speaking, people have to work to reach agreement about anything looked at seriously. Scientists manage to gain consensus from colleagues only on what is stated unequivocably, and if they are prepared to see other scientists show them how much they missed in their study of the subject in question. In terms of growth in awareness, we all differ and therefore we must be prepared to meet more people who question what we say than people who agree with us.
But it is not that simple and, to be more accurate in that matter, we shall need to adopt a relativistic viewpoint. If we assume, as it is done in physics, that there is only one physical world and a number of observers concerned with it, but not all using the same instruments and not at rest with respect to each other, we need to find ways of reconciling their serious and honest observations so that we know we are looking at the same reality. This job of reconciliation is called a general Theory of Relativity. Among humans and about human reality — which we can assume to be one and the same, as we do in physics but perhaps not as easily — we may have to extend our vision to allow for the effects of time on all human phenomena. The general Theory of Human Relativity will be much more complicated than that of physics. It may not be necessary to have it developed to such an extent that it solves all problems of relativity, and we may be satisfied if some problems pending today become capable of being handled with some suecess through a provisional theory. In fact, it is not certain that the words: “there is one human universe” have a meaning we can all share. The chances are that we shall find easier to work with another formulation of reality by stating that in the making of a human universe, all individuals contribute the facts of their own awareness, and then attempt to generate a model incorporating all of them according to relativistic principles of selection. In Volume XI Issue #5 of this Newsletter, we tried to do that in a restricted field. Here, we shall not be tempted to do more, but only sketch what is needed to understand why people have personal views on almost everything and therefore show disagreement so often. Our recollection of our experiences may become more understandable and clearer, even to ourselves, if we notice the role of passion in our lives. By passion we mean our spontaneous willingness to mobilize enough inner energy to remain with a challenge for as long as it is required for us to assimilate what it brings to us. Looking at young people will ensure that the spontaneous discipline involved in playing games with others is available and exercised by all. Games are for 20
4 The Relativity Of Awareness
spontaneous learning, and require both presence on the part of the players and discipline to take one’s place in the group and obey the rules of the games. Games change but the entry into them, the practice they demand and the way each finishes, do not. Thus, it is possible to gather the descriptions of games played universally at certain ages and discover what can be called “absolutes” in the successive periods of one’s life, and find that we all educate ourselves hierarchically in our lives after birth; first by being captured by our entry, progression, and mastery of the realm of perception, and then by shifting all these conscious involvements to the realm of action (with perception as an instrument) until we master the ways of making action virtual and extending its range. The two absolutes of perception and action would suffice to understand the spontaneous involvements of boys and girls up to the age of say 10, in elementary school playgrounds. But there is more to it and all of us know, by adolescence, that perception and action are not our sole endowments. We need to plunge into the study of emotions and feeling and dwell in them for a handful of years, with as much passion as we gave to action and perception, to generate the “absolute” of affectivity. As our own universe is drowned in the collective one, we witness without too much understanding the outside manifestations of what people do with themselves who are older, or much older, than we are. To this “immanent” universe we have to give energy which can affect our own and demand adjustments of ours so that we can strike some compromise with others also living their absolute. The character of the struggle for survival, gained by many lives confined in the same space-time, results from the existence of conflicting absolutes held by those who have social intercourses but cannot transcend their own. Absolutes, changing with time and following a certain hierarchy from birth to adulthood, provide the systems of references of the individual observers of human reality but also show that the instruments each uses also affect the observations. In the human case the absolutes stress some viewpoint but also suggest some ignorings. This, even if at work in physicists, is not explicitly taken into account in physics where instruments can be invented, manufactured and purchased to provide observers with similar sets of instruments. In human environments only instruments belonging to transcended absolutes are shared quietly
and cordially, those belonging to absolutes still immanent, cannot really be acquired for the purpose of use. For example, school children very rarely find excitement and personal meaning in the school subjects transmitted to them from above like geometry, grammar and history are. These later may become engrossing and be adopted as one’s preferred expressions of one’s self in an adult career. Subject-matter in school curricula is in the immanent and is imposed upon people living intensely in earlier absolutes. Generally speaking, teachers do not know how, or do not attempt, to find the means of giving to what is vital in their own absolutes the forms displaying the attributes at work in earlier absolutes. So they leave their “loves” inaccessible to their students and blame the young ones, rather than themselves, for missing the beauty, and the greatness of what they find so valuable. Parents also find their children ungrateful for all that they do and suffer for them which is not recognized. Because of their different absolutes, clashes arise and both parents and children feel misunderstood. The only possible accommodation can come from the parents who can evoke what they went through at their children’s age and they have now forgotten; or if all wait for years to pass and the children, in their mid-thirties, acknowledge that they see things now like their parents do. This means when parents and children live in the same absolute. The human universe therefore seems structured by the minds of people who: 1
either cut into it a section which corresponds to one absolute or to a succession of absolutes integrated into the latest absolute they are now in which involves them with passion only at that last level;
2 or, having reached their top absolute, they leave it to contemplate the stratifications they see around with one invariant; while almost all people live with passion in one layer of awareness, these people have now developed a relativistic understanding of mankind.
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What this actually means is that “we need the whole of humanity to live the whole man” (Goethe) and that each human being who becomes aware of his awareness can find in himself the capabilities to make sense of what others go through because of their engagement, their involvement, their identification with an absolute as the integrative schema for their experiences. At some historic moment, a large number of people live the same absolute and it marks the collective awareness, the collective interest, the collective interpretation of what happens to them and to others. People agree with each other when they perceive that they are moved by the same absolute and share similar values. It is therefore sufficient to see things as contained in a realm beyond that absolute to find majorities disagreeing with pioneers among them, who perceive what escapes others. A new awareness must be “sold” to a majority or it has to find its own supporters until a new majority emerges which takes care of implementing its reforms. Revolutions in history were the social solutions of the tensions between absolute visions: one embodied in the ruling group, and the other in those who saw beyond one of these visions. These were successful because they had roots in reality, and because the truth of this reality could be made manifest to enough people in contact with it. In the Western Civilization one can see how collective experience influences individual experience and conversely how it was possible for one individual to initiate a shift in the collective awareness of a vast group by offering the collectivity means to reach that individual’s level of awareness. Revolutions in perception of the human universe are often named, and this points at the responsibility of that individual to alter the awareness of the world held before him. Thus, we talk of a Copernican, a Cartesian, or a Newtonian revolution and know what that means. There were collective absolutes during the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the scientific explosion of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, all culminating in the Encyclopedists and the cult of Reason, followed, through Romanticism, by the social absolute now on the verge of being swept away. We are witnessing the pressures of an unformed and unnamed absolute descending: putting in question
all the values of the last two hundred years now felt as inoperative by all those who experience their legitimate rights to live, to work and prosper; and who no longer trust leaders of all kinds and tints; and who also doubt moral standards presented to them to make them resigned, like their forefathers did, to a fate which is no longer compelling. When a strong and clear voice en-tones the elementary truths of the new absolute, the inhabitants of the earth will recognize it and join in force to make things happen as we have seen before (when no media could easily reach the masses) when Luther, Calvin, and Loyola altered profoundly the consciousness of their contemporaries. Could this new absolute be Relativity itself? Could it be possible to have all the inhabitants of the earth agree on having a place in the sun for each of them, all making their own contribution at the level of their own awareness? One aspect of it is already appearing in the emergence of Homo Economicus, a neutral, universal attribute of all people in all societies. Will the world economy be the receptacle in which all can melt and feel equal, a requirement of all the previous absolutes? In Relativity there is room for all people and there is only one demand: that in one’s system of reference (read, one’s conscious life) everyone operates fully with one’s sense of truth and is fully taken by the existence of all humans to whom one gives as much reality as one gives to oneself. If this is equivalent to loving one’s neighbors like oneself we have made secular and universal, an exhortation of a pioneer in Human Relativity, who lived and taught almost two thousand years ago. Relativity is needed to give true reality to the extreme variety of humans’ manifestations of what each considers to be a worthwhile life, even if only one person chooses to live it. It is also needed as the dynamic means of bringing all humans together while keeping them at their physical location and maintaining them in the states they want to
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live passionately; reconciling contradictions and legitimizing every behavior for each one who displays it. If it can do that, it is already something important; but it will be asked to do much more. For instance, to discover whether there are structuring features which can be used to relate numbers of human lives in terms of the objectified equivalents of the living time used to generate the actual contents of each life, in the sense we superficially speak today of early childhood or adolescence, but which can be formulated with greater care and precision. From there we shall possibly be able to develop a new education for humanity and get inspired to produce its technology. What we already know of this is encouraging.
1 A five-day Spanish Silent Way Class at the Jesuit Novitiate in St. Paul, Minnesota
This five-day, forty-hour course, came a year and two weeks after the Lakota three-day, twenty-hour course in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, reported upon in Newsletter Volume XIII, Issue #1. It took place because the leadership at the Novitiate trusted the organizers of the South Dakota language summer school and believed their judgment on the effectiveness of the Silent Way. Members of the same Order, and personally acquainted with each other, they could talk to each other openly and expect straight answers. In addition, one of the novices in St. Paul had been a participant at the Pine Ridge Lakota course and vouched that it was a valuable experience the other novices might enjoy and benefit from. So, it was undertaken, Dr. Gattegno having accepted to work with up to 50 participants, of which 20 were to come from the the Novitiate. In fact, there were only 45 registrants, one of whom withdrew after one day due to other urgent duties. Among the full-time students, were the three top administrators of the place and other priests who wanted to learn Spanish and to have firsthand experience of the approach for reasons concerning the growth of the Order of the Jesuits in the world which has accelerated in recent years. The American fraction of that Order is the largest but it also contains the smallest proportion of multilingual priests, and was advised to do something about it by the Rome Headquarters. In the past, Latin and Greek seemed sufficient for
their membership. Nowadays, because of a greater involvement in social work with people not predominantly English-speaking, an awareness of a need for fluency in other languages has made the Order look into approaches which might be effective. The Silent Way has thus far gained high marks. This course may have helped to tilt the balance further in its favor. In the group there were five Spanish teachers, four of whom were to continue for two and a half weeks, at 8-hours a day, on the foundations layed by Dr. Gattegno. There were also four novices with varying extents of experience in Spanish-speaking countries. To start the course a viewing of Infused Reading for Spanish on a rented 45˝ monitor seemed to have put the stress on learning by oneself rather than on the traditonal expectation of a teacher handing out knowledge. After that showing and a chorus reading of the tests on the diskette — a chorus which hid the need for a review by those who did not manage to get everything in one single showing — much work remained to be done on pronunciation. This was undertaken with the Castillian Fidel and segments 14 and 15 of the Leocolor films. For practice, as usual, the numeration chart allowed the group to be prepared to write strings of digits of their own choices and say them. Then they extended that knowledge to arithmetic, including fractions, and to telling time and work out quantitative relations between number of days in a year, seconds in a month etc. using the word chart on time; to asking for a telephone number, an address, an age and giving one’s own. Every day ended with learning a song and with a short feedback session on the salient features of the hours spent at learning. On the first day it was about pronunciation, spelling, accenting words and flows of words. (All were duly impressed that so much could be learned so quickly.) The second and third day were devoted to situations with the rods which allowed the introduction of —
all pronouns: personal;
2 the future, present, and past tenses for a few action verbs such as take, give, put, in both the familiar and formal forms; 3 the imperative tense; 4 the regular and/or irregular verbs; 5 the reflexive verbs; 6 some adverbs of space and time, etc. The fourth day was spent in part in the study of the very irregular (and therefore very common) verbs and on some characterizations of semi or barely irregular ones. This lesson which could have been a delight for such an intellectual group of students, was found arid and not very clear compared with all those where studentsâ€™ activities among themselves^ or on and with the rods, made the meanings perceptible. For example, the changes of tenses for action verbs and of the pronouns for reflexive verbs as well as on both (action reflexive verbs such as to sit and to get up). The expansion of vocabulary was done through the use of pictures; that of the cat and that of the man in a rocking chair. There was not enough time for any other picture nor for the introduction of the book; Mil Frases. Only less than one hourâ€™s time was left for the final feedback. In this, those who spoke first and most, were beginners or among the teachers of other languages. One of the beginners (the head of the Novitiate) asked that those who knew some Spanish to begin with, or were teachers of Spanish, tell of their experience, thus making the feedback more useful since comments relative to the Silent Way as compared to other approaches were brought in spontaneously. The remarks that this time so-called much more difficult grammar points were met very early; that individual and group learning contributed their respective part; that practice replaced drill; that mistakes and self-correction served much better than teachers replacing students by telling what needs to be said; that the respective responsibilities of
learners and teacher, were clear and underscored; that “rightness” and “adequacy” led to “correctness” — all that added up to a deeper awareness of what had happened in a large group engaged in learning to discipline itself to maximize learning. Learning Spanish at the St. Paul Jesuit Novitiate, meant to many much more than acquiring a certain amount of that language. It meant more often than not facing oneself in front of tasks mobilizing one’s self, one’s will, one’s sensitivity; one’s attention to minute details; one’s stamina; one’s capacity to surrender and to focus; in other words a contribution to one’s assessment of oneself confronting obstacles — far less dangerous than those in open everyday life but no less challenging to the persons concerned. A lesson in self-awareness. The pleasant surroundings, the good food, the clear atmosphere, the true companionship of the participants as well as the intensity of the various lessons made this course a very special experience for all; unforgettable said some.
2 A three-day Seminar on “Action” An invitation to spend three days with a small group of people to work on one aspect of their lives, came in October, 1983, and was accepted although it was not clear what it meant exactly. The meeting was to take place in the country in the south of France in M. Jean-Louis Servan-Schreiber’s property, given a name meaningful in Buddhist countries “Samsara.” The people, six of them, were friends of the hosts — the ninth being Dr. Gattegno, in a function not quite defined yet. The host acted at all sessions as informal leader, summing up previous sessions and introducing the current one, inviting one or other of the participants to start the ball rolling. Sessions lasted from 45 minutes (twice) up to three hours. All of them in the open air in beautiful surroundings, in, for two days, glorious weather. There were many lessons to learn for all. For Dr. Gattegno — coming there from orchestrating the learning of 44 people, and going to lead an eleven-day seminar with 50 people - it was to process what people said,
as they wanted, about what they wanted in reply to topics selected by M. Jean-Louis Servan-Schreiber who invited them to talk for a while. This was easy, valuable, but new in seminars in which Dr. Gattegno had participated since the early ‘40s. “Action” had been selected by the host because he felt that he and his friends were engaged in it, giving their lives to it but it was neither well-defined for them, nor felt as the best way of consuming their own time on earth as adults. The need for a better definition, a better evaluation and, if possible, for some other lighting, if available, brought them together and made the choice of Dr. Gattegno as resident consultant for those three days. The choice of dates, the days (an extended weekend), the length of the seminar suited very busy people, with extensive social responsibilities: two of them C.E.O.’s of large business concerns, one head of a government agency, two writers and journalists, one a lecturer and teacher as well as seminar oragnizer, one a psychiatrist turned businessman, one a specialist in oriental philosophy and publisher and editor; all highly articulate and knowing the worth-whileness of their experience and their present roles in society. While they knew a number of things, they seemed deeply interested in attempting to throw further light on the aspects of their lives which made them feel that perhaps a shift here or a push there, could sort some things out which they experienced as affecting their satisfaction with themselves. Listening to them, Dr. Gattegno sensed that here and there, he could come in with the lighting of awareness of one’s awareness which was new to all. As an instrument it had to be presented as having a place among others in use by these refined and cultured people. It only took a small number of sessions to let some instruments, which awareness has generated, be acceptable. That was proved by their being used spontaneously by all towards the third day. The participants could best talk of action as it appears to them at this juncture and its impacts within their present preoccupations which could only be considered for a few minutes in the successive sessions. Still, the cumulative effect was capable of generating enough empathy to say that the group became a lively unit working well together. At
meals and around the swimming pool, in walks and a visit to an Abbey nearby, occasions for pairs or triplets to exchange words increased the intimacy. One of the participants came a day later but was at once integrated, others left the group for short periods but all this did not disrupt the work of the remainder. This was mentioned at the final feedback as a remarkable feature of this seminar which was a new experiment for all. For our readers, the meaning of these three days is in knowing what they can learn about action in adult life and to know how this emerges because of that special opportunity. The group had only been told a few words about Dr. Gattegno’s manner of working and were on the whole not specially ready to consider that such a short seminar could have a valuable contribution to make to their meeting their inner problems. Still, as all they heard seemed to make sense, at the end the impact could be assessed as justifying the organizer’s guess that it was important to have responded to his invitation by coming. Action was presented as a way of knowing. This, to make sense, required that all shifted their sight from what happens to us today, to all the nows of our lives: in particular, to the absolutes which are marked by our passionate involvements in successive periods from conception on, and one — the second after birth — specifically there for the thorough exploration of action. To place action properly in our lives we must: understand the articulation of past, present and future; what is being lived when awareness is the presence of the self in activities — also characterized as the absolutes — how we generate the past, and how we let the future descend or prevent it from doing so. The “immanent” is a better concept than cultures and social environments in making sense of our lives, and it was quickly adopted. The need for a mastered perception to open the gate to action and its study by young children, places the absolute of action at the age of 5 - 10 while perception comes up soon after birth (after the myelenization of sensory nerves). During the last 32
phases of that age, “virtual action” gains more and more importance because it allows to do much more with less energy. This generates in us the sense of power, which triggers the next phase (that of adolescence, with puberty as one of its visible features) and the expansion of perception to reach the dynamics behind the inner upheavals known as one’s affective life because they involve much energy. This is polarized as another way of knowing through the categories of feelings which in their interiority will make ideas real. The intellect works as virtual actions do on attributes of motions which are known as feelings. We identify that sort of dynamics as owned by us, acting quickly and precisely on what we cannot escape calling realities without asking them to be perceptible to others. Subsequently, language and the arts make them accessible to others. Once our intellect is explored, also for years, all four integrated previous attributes (perception, action, feeling and thought) are put at the service of any one of our projects which may be social, political, religious, etc. Action as an instrument creates affective dynamics, and both together energize thoughts as extensions of virtual actions on schemas, ideas, and projects. Thus action is perceptible everywhere if we scratch the surface. Nowadays, in the syntheses that social actions bring forth — and are only right if all earlier criteria are found in them — we can see that our minds are influenced by, and also influenced through a number of aspects of truth — corresponding to truth in perception, truth in action, truth in affective energy, truth in logic and reason and truth in social relations. An adult absorbed in his or her life may not perceive all these components representing what one has become because of one’s past and letting some light filter in from the component of the future. Thus, action can be given its place at all stages of our lives and we may grasp where it is wanting and provide some remedy for this.
3 Summer Seminar in France Sixty people registered for the eleven-day bi-annual seminar in France this summer, but ten did not come for various reasons. It convened in the South Western region of France, visited for the first time by quite a number of those who came. The general title of the resident intensive 33
seminar was: “Living at one’s peak,” but the sessions were mainly empirical studies of the obstacles to achieving this end. Because of the number (more than 50) the schedule had a rhythm which permitted work in small groups after charging sessions in the large room and then returning together for reports. Good weather enticed people to be in the open air or to walk around the country campus of the hosting center. From several places the hilly horizon was miles away offering sunsets of great beauty. Since there are no experts in happiness, the theme of the seminar could be turned into a sequence of exercises in self knowledge. The charging sessions, with the whole group present, would generate a sufficient number of sub-themes to keep people busy for some time. It all seemed to be a collective search for the reality or realities behind the components discovered in the general theme. This, enhanced at the small sessions, when people became better acquainted with each other and ready to open up, made the words “empirical studies” gain their true meaning. Rather than aim at general principles from which to deduce lofty exhortations, the pinpointed examinations of examples lived by one or more of those involved led them to remain in contact with the challenges and to make slow progress or even none without feeling frustration. By questioning things usually taken for granted, it was possible to go deeply into preconceptions and expose them and find why confusions arise and how we meet them in specific circumstances. Among the sub-themes related to the question “Could one live at one’s peak if. . .?” confusion was one brought up by a few participants and taken up in the second and third day by all in small groups. So were the need for and the meaning of crying, and of one’s sleep, and their functions in our lives. The fourth day had one highlight which occupied the small groups and the general sessions: ways of knowing and particularly the one we call “acquaintance,” which concerns itself with the direct knowledge no one can verbalize but which permeates so much of our lives. When we eat, say fruit, and smell perfumes, the reality we are with is directly apprehended and no one needs to find words for the taste of sherry say,
and what the melting of it in our consciousness does. Contemplation of the night sky has some attributes of acquaintance and once we entertain one it helps experience consciously what the other is. Acquaintance is a new challenge as a conscious way of knowing needed between two people who cannot tell much about each other. Its importance was experienced in the field of relating. Only because we entered into it collectively to know what it was, a deep fellowship developed within this large group of people studying how to become freer so as to move towards a better One day was taken up by the study of affectivity. Several participants were not clear about it but used it for years. To make it clearer, it was necessary to study one’s life in terms of energy, energy transactions, health and how all happens over the years since conception. Self, soma, psyche must all be defined at the same time as affectivity. Thus, the whole model for an epistemological model of man’s life from conception to death needed to be summarized. Even for those who had heard and read of it on previous occasions it seemed to be of help to continue the studies in this seminar. In particular, selfknowledge style year 2000. Work on relating took another day and gave small groups a chance to delve at leisure on what it meant for each participant. It was clear that the sessions on acquaintance and on schemas had made it much easier to make relating a more interesting challenge about which much could be learned in a short time. A session on involvement and indifference allowed the large group to see that our responsibility to people to whom we may have duties, can be tempered by our responsibilities to ourselves and to our other duties. All this asking for alertness and vigilance on our part. Another session dedicated to whether we can make sense now of our future death, brought forth many thoughts which remained debatable since the question had not actually been asked by the participants and some of the suggestions made went against people’s beliefs. On Tuesday, July 10th, the only half day of break was spent at the Lascaux caves where Cro-Magnon’s man shows how advanced prehistoric men’s art was. The well-known beautiful paintings of bulls, cows, gazelles, and horses, on natural rock surfaces, discovered only in
1940, but dating from 17,000 years to 15,500 years ago, moved everybody very deeply. The visit served the study, in the afternoon sessions, of how awareness of the awareness could gain from such findings and contribute to their better understanding. For the first, it was possible to examine what the drawings told directly of the state of awareness of people living on earth over 15, 000 years ago, since without awareness of how heads articulate on shoulders and legs and paws on the body, no one could draw such dynamic animals (particularly because of what we know of DaVinci’s anatomy studies and from many of his drawings) and so many of them. Only awareness of one’s awareness can make plain that these ancestors of men in the region, had entry into such remarkable masteries without presumably formal schools of art. When children’s drawings are brought in as another lighting (of which a brief study was added) it becomes clear how awareness of the awareness is a necessary instrument for the study of human evolution and especially of periods “objective” sciences cannot study (cf. Newsletter Vol. XII, #1, “The Origins and Evolution of Languages”). Wednesday, July 11th, was highlighted by two sessions. One concerned itself with how impossible questions for contemporary sciences, can become the object of research for the Science of Education whose main instrument is “awareness of awareness of the awareness” (three times the word awareness needs to be used for this). Of course, this concatenation of awarenesses becomes some other entities, to which separate names can be given such as intuition, ways of knowing, coupling of acquaintance and lighting, etc. The second was a one-hour report by a group of people from Bordeaux (known as group “La”) of the work they do to research, live, organize, serve, consult with economic groups to eliminate boredom, banalization, uniformization of lives (mainly of working women) in a declining economy and project it in the national economy of France, which it is at the stage of doing successfully. Their impressive contribution on the minds of people when they are so few of them and at work for so few years, uplifted the hearts of the others in the seminar whose lives are far less risky and so much less examined.
The last session (interrupted by a brief but fierce hailstorm) was devoted to a study of contagion among people living away from each other but experiencing, at different degrees of vagueness, the same distress at the spectacle of the microcosms of contemporary commercial societies and a still vaguer feel of the world economy. On the 12th, some members of the group put questions to be studied. Those retained concerned possessivity as a holder on one’s way to living at one’s peak; the will; how to handle feelings of insecurity and expectations. Possession of persons was implied in possessivity which so often manifests itself in the pain known as jealousy, known to many of the participants who recognized it as an obstacle in their spiritual growths. But insecurity was given more time for it was apparently reduced in one field by social security, pensions, various insurances. Givenness to the all pervading strikes of luck and our constant contact with the unknown was harder to understand as a more realistic stand in humans in their lives dominated by the meeting of the unknown. Awareness of the awareness is needed for that and is normally supplied spontaneously by most humans, though differently in various cultures and civilizations. The morning of the 13th was used to put in circulation in the group a “General Theory of Human Relativity” which is needed if we are to treat everybody at the same time. All lives at all times, to be handled as more than an empty concept, require such a theory involving schemas of various content, age or capabilities, in order to say something valid about them. There were people of ages varying between 20 to 70 in the seminar, but with the Cro-Magnon Men the stretch of time covered goes back many thousand years. The model constructed was considered helpful for a number of purposes. The sessions after lunch and until dinner were used for rounding up the ten days of work, leaving Saturday morning for the general feedback. The main theme was evolution as an instrument for knowing oneself, style year 2000: in one life and in the overall evolution over 18 billion years of energy, taking us from the making of the nuclei 37
(included in our soma) made in the stars, the making of molecules (also in it) and the organizations of molecules in various forms in the realms of the vital and how the animal kingdom has been furnished with the varieties of behaviors we know. The reduction of the energy needed to produce a greater variety of natural entities characterizes the vertical hierarchies of evolutions leading to many who, in its “prehuman” form over a small number of millions of years, experimented with awareness of his awareness and found the “nothings” now at work in himself as well as in the electronic technologies now thriving. Man became responsible for his own evolution at the human level and now has to use education as the specific instrument for it. The feedback morning session on the last day was by far the most moving as well as the most important one. Forty of the fifty-one people present spoke. No one used more than 3 to 4 minutes to say as precisely as he or she could, what was the personal assessment of the value of the whole eleven days. As they understood that there was no need to repeat what others said which could have been part of their own feedback, there were 40 complementary statements which together wove out an amazing fabric of the points worth retaining for all of these numerous sessions of work. A kind of unanimity had been reached without asking for it. A perceptive assessment of the vital issues involved, of the instruments used, of the hierarchies of importance attributed: to the epistemological components, the definitions retained, to the criteria used, to the roles of mystery, ignorance, awarenesses, awarenesses of awareness, fairness in treatment of the four realms and the human attributes of the self (or quantum) at work in them. There was a profound harmony between very different people varying in age, sex, profession, background, experience and initial involvement. Everyone was moved but spoke without sentimentality. All accepted that to live at one’s peak one has to be responsible for one’s inner life and develop the various disciplines of learning required and be as present as one could, with others as well as within. Complexity was not to be forgotten, ways of knowing serving special requirements of life were to be developed of which “acquaintance” between persons was most often mentioned. It seemed as if the feedback of the whole group if kept in each individual, would serve each and every one in his or her growth while being vigilant and 38
alert to be able to transfer to new challenges what had already been learned. A tentative suggestion for another seminar in 24 months (possibility in Britanny) was “Our freedom, what is it and how can it be attained?” This French opportunity for learning offered to French-speaking people by the associations of volunteers in Lyon, Besançon, Geneva and Paris may take its work all over the territory. *** We are sending this issue to those who renewed their subscription as well as to those who we believe are only late in sending it in. The next issue will only be sent to those who have become subscribers. U.S., Canada, Mexico Cost $15 sent First Class Europe, cost $19 sent Air Mail Middle East, Africa, Asia cost $22 sent Air Mail
Dr. Caleb Gattegno’s book
“The Common Sense of Teaching Reading and Writing” will appear just before Christmas, with a publication date of January, 1985. This text will sell retail @ $12.95 (+ postage) a copy. If you order your copy by December 25, 1984, you will pay only $10.00 (+ postage). 2 The French translation of the articles on Homo Economicus which appeared in this Newsletter Vol. XIII issue 3, is due to come out
in Besançon (France) in early November. It will be one of the first texts made available by the group of volunteers mentioned on two occasions in last year’s volume. That group formed itself into a non-profit organization (French law of 1901) using a word processor to prepare copy for the offset printers, from translations and editorial work done by volunteers. 3 On December 7-9, the last workshop offered for 1984, will be for teacher education on the Silent Way (with special reference to ESL). The fee for the 20-hour workshop remains $150 per person. 4 During the winter of 1985, two 15-hour seminars on Awareness will take place in February and March. February 22-23 “Are there reasons to be optimistic at the end of the 20th century?” March 29-30 “Preparing ourselves for what comes.” Fee per participant for both seminars is $200 ($100 each workshop).
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