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The Powers Of Self-Education Maintained

Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc.

Caleb Gattegno

Newsletter

vol. XIV no. 2

December 1984


First published in 1984. Reprinted in 2009. Copyright Š 1984-2009 Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc. Author: Caleb Gattegno All rights reserved ISBN 978-0-87825-321-0 Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc. 2nd Floor 99 University Place, New York, N.Y. 10003-4555 www.EducationalSolutions.com


For years, we have described in the pages of this Newsletter, the extraordinary accomplishments of all of us in our early childhood. Our readers have met our insights into what we all do in some fields unassisted, and even when hindered by the prejudices of the people in the environment whose ignorance and insensitivity may prevent them from relating to us as the very young engaged in the process of learning. Occasionally we have mentioned in this Newsletter, perhaps with insufficient insight, that it is indeed a stiff challenge to understand how and why so much learning talent vanishes with growing up. “Grownups are impoverished children” — this was our observation in 1958. It became an accepted saying in some circles. But the challenge remained untouched. It awaited to be considered more seriously, more professionally. A comprehensive approach to it eluded us until some of the dynamics of learning were better understood. These concern 1) the process of making skills second nature — which means that the self is not present anymore in what was central for the self to be in a short time earlier, 2) the true value of mastery, that is, the understanding that the self consciously makes the transfers of learnings. It was clear that when these two dynamics of learning are integrated into pedagogy, the emphasis gets shifted to learning. The learners are not pressured into acquiring habits which do not help them. They are assisted to learn on their own, that is, to make skills second nature, and, to transfer their learnings to other areas. Having seen this, it was possible to understand the situation and go beyond. It became clear that a new pedagogy related to the powers at work in early childhood, had to be developed. After years of work, we know that we have made some breakthroughs in this direction. The three articles of this issue bring readers up to date on this study. News items close this issue as usual.


Table of Contents

1 Looking At Successes: Their Dynamics .............................. 1 2 Looking At The Paralyzing Processes ................................ 9 3 Looking At What We Know ............................................. 21 Previews ............................................................................. 27 News Items ......................................................................... 33 1 England ......................................................................................... 33 A. The Bristol Workshop And Seminar “Know Thyself, Style Year 2000” ................................................................... 33 B. London Seminars One Day On “Working With Others” ...... 37 2 Italy ...............................................................................................40 Two Days In Rome......................................................................40 3 France ........................................................................................... 41 A. Dijon ...................................................................................... 41 B. Besançon................................................................................ 41 C. Paris .......................................................................................42 4 Geneva Switzerland ...................................................................... 43 5 ....................................................................................................... 45


1 Looking At Successes: Their Dynamics

It is easy for one to be confused when one observes that in order to be able to learn as much as we did in early childhood, we must have tremendous endowments, and yet, to find that so many of us are poor learners later on, in primary, secondary or postsecondary institutions. Where have all these endowments gone? Let us study the challenge and put some things right. One valid approach to it could be, to examine our successes and discover what makes them so. Starting with successes, if we make some headway in the study, we could then pose other questions relevant to our failures; if that is what they are. *** Our successes, as they are visible to others, start after we are born. For instance, we manage to find the nipple on our mother’s breasts and suck nutrients out of it. And this, only hours after we changed environment from in-utero to ex-utero. Such success is necessary in order to be able to remain alive and have a chance to learn other things. But, invisible from the outside, there takes place a postponement by the newly born, of the myelenization of the sensory nerves so as not to 1


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be distracted by the inputs of energy on the senses when all one’s self is present in the vegetative apprenticeships vital at that stage. Indeed, while in the mother’s womb, a number of organs and a number of functions, though completed anatomically and equipped with neurons and blood connections, could not yet be provoked to work: for example, the lungs, the kidneys and the intentines. That there is much to learn to make these organs function and perform well, can be deduced from the fact that newly born babies sleep extended hours for a number of days. The long hours of sleep in the case of babies is obviously not due to their need to restore themselves. Once the newborns are satisfied that survival has been taken care of the best it could be, their sensory nerve fibers are separated from each other by sheaths of a fat substance acting as insulator. That early, it seems, babies know something of the discipline of learning. Newly born babies make it evident that they can keep distractions from taking them away from the tasks at hand, and, that they know how to remain present in these tasks in order to attain mastery, pinpointedly as well as, as a whole. The words above are, perhaps, too few for readers to accept that 1

all this that babies do, is deliberate,

2 there is a lot to be done and mastered, and it requires, for more or less three weeks, continuous presence of the self to do it, 3 when the self is satisfied that the work has been properly done, it moves to the meeting of other challenges. What is being suggested is that there is a deliberate presence of the self in a learning self. If this approach is accepted, provisionally, it is possible that many more challenges will become accessible, and the adoption of the approach, justified.

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The example of the postponement of the myelenization of the sensory nerves, is particularly valid, and appropriate for understanding why babies are so successful at learning. It tells: 1

that we must begin to consider seriously the existence in every learning, of a self at work who directs how energies are to be taken in; what is to be retained and integrated; what is to be shed or disposed off (in the way the food intake is treated);

2 what it means to take something in our flesh, in the working complex of the soma, the psyche and the self — and make it our own; 3 how the presence of the self makes an enormous difference in the acts of learning and, that this presence is the normal state of being of the self at work. We cannot take away from a baby that he knows where he is at each moment, which are his means, and how he can select some of them to meet the particular challenge he is confronting. He has already spent months in the intimate contact with his soma in the making. He has dwelt in the tissues and the organs, and, in particular, in the functions, through the psyche and the nervous system. All this knowledge, rather acquaintance, not verbalized ever (i.e. now and later), is available as such and will remain so. It can be called in at once by the self any time the self feels its relevance to meeting a new challenge. The postponement of the myelenization is one example of the endowments of the self. The postponement, for months on end, of entering into interaction with the language of the environment because other skills must be acquired first; the postponement of the onset of puberty until such time as the self can cope with the avalanche of emotions and feelings which are triggered by the self, as the self comes to dwell in the absolute of affectivity; the postponement of one’s wedding till one is capable of maintaining one’s family, or of a purchase, till one has the funds; all these examples serve to illustrate the presence and a specific way of working of the self. When we look from close at how we allow certain things in, and to take place in 3


The Powers Of Style Self-Education Maintained Error! not defined.

ourselves, and exclude certain others from happening, we find that our contact with our own organic and functional hierarchies of learning is, indeed, one of the factors which enables us to do so. It is but pertinent, therefore, that we try to understand these dynamics and their temporal successive display in our successes. The dynamics behind our successes, besides the presence of the self, involve the discipline of learning which includes: 1

patience, i.e. a readiness to mobilize oneself for as long as the task demands it;

2 a matter of fact handling of mistakes — i.e. the alertness to observe the outcome of one’s initiatives, and an ability to alter them or take different and new initiatives at any moment, as required by the task at hand, and this, without the emotional load of irritation or a sense of condemnation; 3 retention and integration, i.e. the capacity to integrate that which works; 4 formulation of somatopsychic units, a keenness to arrive at and exercise the new functionings which work by themselves and convey to the self a feeling of mastery. The discipline of learning seems to be at work in babies, whatever the nature and the content of the actual involvement. It takes months for babies to master the intake of food without taking in air as well. It takes them weeks to articulate their grip so as to trust it to counter the weight of their thorax and allow themselves to take a sitting position. It takes months to learn to stand, and weeks after that to dare take the initiative to lift one leg and project it ahead and then to re-establish the balance, and days to transform these awarenesses into walking, and so on. Learning to speak (as we have presented it a number of times in a number of seminars, articles and books) is a particularly apt example of the actual study of the dynamics of human learning stretching over many, many months. All of us do it on our own, not only without guidance from the environment but often in spite of its interferences.

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Because it is the most spectacular of our early childhood successes, it can serve, if studied seriously, as a thorough preparation of students of human learning and can enable them to be as competent as they wish to be. And also, to give back to babies their due. It seems likely that Piaget said nothing on this matter because it would have forced him to abandon his purely algebraic model (concerning mental operations), and he did not make it apparent that he had another model to substitute for it. It seems likely that linguists encounter insurmountable difficulties in their studies of the acquisition of languages because the concepts of their sciences are insufficient to come close enough to the dynamics involved. It seems likely that only a complex new epistemology — which takes into account energy in the various forms it has in the soma, the psyche, affectivity, the intellect and the self — can do this comprehensive job. We base our study of language learning on the complex new epistemology we have generated. To state that language acquisition simply is innate, as so many writers (including Chomski) do, is tantamount to saying: “I shall not attempt to study the human endowments actively involved in language acquisition because it is beyond me, and I prefer to cover the issue with a blanket. I would rather not look at it than develop the sensitivities and techniques required to test myself as a true student of it and reach the actual reality of language acquisition which stretches over many months of continuous learning.” To say language is learned by imitation or can be conveyed by parents, is still worse, because it is definitely not the case. Only babies can teach themselves to speak their first foreign language — the one spoken around them. They use while teaching themselves, subtle discrimination, and refined instruments made of different

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awarenesses such as, the awareness of the involvement of their soma, their will, their attention, their intelligence; of their presence in one or more organs; of their capacity to hold energy, to recognize it when it is at work in others and in their own soma, and, of their capacity to transform their energy into utterances carried by their own voice to the outside world. While teaching themselves in such an efficient manner, they can: 1

educate themselves in all the attributes of utterances;

2 educate their hearing, so that in their hearing reside the criteria for knowing what it is to recognize the utterances they 3 educate their sensitivity for receiving from the environment the objective attributes, which are energy as it is objectified in sounds, in stresses, in patterns of sounds and silences, as the various melodies produced to carry the lengthy statements and as the intonations added to these melodies to express emotions. We all spent more or less nine months doing the job of knowing ourselves as utterers and hearers, and, as sensitive to sameness and otherness in the field of phonation. At the same time, we learned to gather meanings perceived by us to be energy variations as we received them from the environment. Young children know that words have no meanings of their own. They perceive that a number of the meanings they can reach are often accompanied by perceptible sounds which consistently strike them at the same time, and they pay attention to this concomitance and form stable associations. Young children know that consistency is the form truth takes in the field of speech; they are alerted to it and find it is sufficient for their retaining self to hold it as a working criterion. Just as in any spontaneous learning, in learning the first language, the beginning is the time of contacting the unknown and of making mistakes. It is also the time when progress is the slowest. But in time, certainties get constructed and uncertainties reduced in number, so that an acceleration of learning takes place. Soon, a sophisticated

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learner is at work doing remarkable things with ease and precision. Not too long after that, the level of mastery is such that in the statements the learner makes, he makes apparent his facility to blend intimately and functionally the rightness of sounds, stresses, melodies and intonations, and the adequacy which matches them with specific meanings. And, he does this effortlessly. The two-way process, namely, the expression of what one thinks, feels and does, and the interpretation of what one receives — can now become communication in wider and wider areas where ambiguities are fewer and fewer, or if they exist they are associated with decisive actions which make more certain the transfer of meanings that we associate with words or statements. Young children do not separate learning to speak from the many other learnings they carry on by themselves. They have no reason to doubt that they are excellent learning systems. In their activities, they meet again and again temporal hierarchies which make sophisticated learnings possible, and they have no doubt about their transfers of learning, for these are common occurrences in their daily living. They embark upon some tasks and often take them to a certain degree of completion or a conclusion. This conclusion is represented by a mastered set of behaviors which they apply soon after to a new challenge. They find that a new challenge can be met on the basis of the previously mastered tasks and functionings. Thus, they find that “the integration by subordination” — a law of biology — is operative in learning to speak too. As learning systems, we are very competent and aware of such components of learning from the start and all the time, that is, until such time when — while confronted with the tasks — we find ourselves no longer in a position to relate to them in the ways known to us, and known to be successful. We are put in such a position when we are given tasks without criteria and are asked to find answers at once even if we are thoroughly confused about the questions. What we can say about our successes is that they result from the way our awareness works. Therefore, if we wish to know something about our successes, we must look into how awareness manifests itself pinpointedly, in the various areas and fields which we manage to integrate and take to the point of being totally assimilated “in our flesh”

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— no longer needing to be remembered in themselves, though still accessible to the self for reconsideration whenever necessary. Our memory, therefore, contains somatic aspects on which we count all the time as part of the fabric of our living, not separable from it. It is formed of our successes, integrated skills, know-hows now at our fingertips, our second nature. It also holds psychic aspects in the form of habits which also work automatically, spontaneously. Among these habits are those which bring forth the words, structures, intonations etc., which we pour into our oral statements as equivalent to our intentions, our thoughts, our feelings, etc. That which we can recall, is not the main content of our memory. Rather, the working experiences which we gain in exchange for our time, the sets of behavior and our new functionings which now replace the time past, are the main components of our memory. These are part of our life-experience, and they represent our wealth — mental and spiritual — and our power over things, within and without. Our successes indicate that we own — besides our capacity to become aware, and aware of our awarenesses — those dynamics which are at once available in our senses, in our coordinated muscles and nerves, in our mind and in our affectivity. It is these that we use in order to enter new challenges and new learnings, and it is they that allow us to anticipate new successes whenever we are mobilized to try something we have not yet tried out, but which attracts us. Those among us who are eternal learners, students, workers, know this from within, directly. Perhaps others can be shown that they too could involve themselves in the journeys to successes by being genuinely themselves and counting mainly on themselves. An articulation, in clarity, of this kind of guidance is part of the science of education. An application of it, the responsibility of true educators.

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We do not have to go far to encounter the opposite of success. The legions of elementary, secondary and college students who consume the precious time of their lives and end up empty-handed, are there to tell us that all our successes in spontaneous learning could do nothing to make us benefit from our official “studies� of the contents of curricula. The studies of failures do not seem to convince the educational establishment that there are things to do which, if done, would change the state of affairs in favor of those who not only pay in terms of money to get some education, but, more certainly, pay in time and inner endowments, to gain nothing. Most people are mathematical illiterates; most people are monolingual after five or so years of studying a second language; many more people than should be, are bad spellers, poor writers, weak readers, uncritical, gullible, after years of exposure to literature, history and economics. Let us take a look at the inevitability of such failures. 1

Knowledge, not knowing, is passed on from knower to non-knower.

2 Knowledge is atomized in order to be remembered, so neither teachers nor students are face to face with an overall challenge.

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3 Accumulation of knowledge is considered a prerequisite of understanding which therefore gets constantly postponed. 4 Information is considered a value in spite of the obvious fact that in time it becomes obsolete. 5 Generation of knowledge is left to the few — the creative minds — and the rest are supposed to receive and treasure it. . . and only occasionally use it or apply it. 6 The ease and availability of the verbal medium allow it to be the preferred medium in schools, though other means are tolerated and even sometimes encouraged. Experimenting with some other means is not encouraged, lest their successes displace verbal instruction for good. 7 Even if learning is bracketed with teaching, human learning is not sufficiently researched. Only lip service is paid to the essential significance for the students of the in-depth study of human learning. Instructors want to improve their own delivery, not to recast their subject to make it akin to the required learning. 8 Analytic approaches are preferred to synthetic ones, even though knowledge as well as skills, must be integrated in the students’ functionings to be used by them, and even though obviously integration is closer to synthesis than to analysis. *** A. Knowledge as information is much more easily handled than knowing. Today we can see that there are printed words by the billions in libraries. It is believed that if we hold a certain number of items of knowledge in our minds, we can show that we have achieved some learning. Hence, so much of our acquisition of school subjects is tested as retained knowledge. But is mathematics knowledge, in that sense? is language knowledge? The answers are “no.” Nobody “remembers” his or her mother tongue. Anybody who says: “I remember the sum of two integers of eight digits each, in base 5,” is not speaking the truth.

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We know how to speak, and the words come by themselves. All we need is to know what we want to say, and that triggers the words. A specific word we need may not emerge, and we say we forgot it. But we still say we know which it is because of its adequacy to our thought, and often it comes back to us or we find a substitute which is an equivalent expression. When we add 127 and 453 mentally, we go through a process, such as, shifting 3 from 453 to 127 and then add 130 and 450 — a transform of the given — which we enunciate as five hundred eighty, this time adding from the left. Each problem challenges us specifically, and we can say: “What we know is how to generate expressions equivalent to the given, knowing which of them provide us with the shortest route, which are the easiest to put down, or which display a form that can be used in order to go on with a problem. Know-hows represent the true gain, the education which can be carried into the future. Still our curricula or syllabi, are structured as if memory were the only guardian of knowledge. We teach Tables instead of multiplication as an operation. Teachers and parents complain that students don’t know their Tables even three years after they were first introduced. They were introduced as addition Tables and christened afterwards as Multiplication, when memorized. In fact, it is possible and wiser to avoid altogether in one’s teaching, the presentation that entails memorization. It is possible, instead, to enable everyone to find with ease and certainty the product of two numbers in any base of numeration, by equipping learners with the “know-how” of it. Knowing is the power behind all knowledge, whether in the form of know-hows as in the skills, or in the form of understandings as in the natural sciences, geography or even history. Because we present school subjects as information, and not knowing, we create the paralyzing state which accompanies forgetting, especially of that which is not conceived of as capable of being regenerated. Knowing is part of all spontaneous learning. It does not need a teacher to be mobilized. This fact does not seem to have reached the 11


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educational establishment which, therefore, is the culprit in the production of incompetent people through the official school system. B. In the history of pedagogy, it is easy to detect a belief never questioned over a long time, that all knowledge must be dished out in small amounts as atoms of information. Thus, in arithmetic we are presented with, first counting up to 10 (or even up to 5) then adding addends through counting and memorization of the results. Later (perhaps half a year or a year later), we pass the 10 mark and learn to add with carrying and practice hundreds of additions in the vertical notation. Later still, we look at subtraction, for some time without borrowing and then with borrowing. The presentation always assumes that young children have no entry into these “abstractions,” and must be introduced very gently to them. These giants who had cracked by themselves the code of the spoken language, are never trusted to prove that they can cope with a curriculum perhaps a hundred times more extended, provided that, that which is offered them is a cluster of interrelated relations handled in the manner of linguistic clusters. When this was tried out (more than 30 years ago), the precise feedback of young children in many places on earth was: “replace atoms of knowledge by clusters of relationships, and all will be well.” Rather than remembering, children knew that they know the “sacrosanct” arithmetic facts. They met addition, subtraction, multiplication, fractions, division, almost simultaneously. They found that these facts support each other and any one of them can serve to generate all the others. The abandonment of the atomization of knowledge and its replacement by an organization of the facts belonging to it, can be done in many areas for the benefit of the students. Whenever it has been tried out, the results have been spectacular, including a changed and an intimate feel — in students and teachers alike — for the real content of the challenges. For example, spelling can be handled in a rational manner which ensures that almost everybody acquires the conventional written forms at age 8 or 9, comparable to the best spellers of today. Decoding, as part of fluent reading, can also be treated so that it makes sense to first graders, who can know with certainty that an important aspect of

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reading is to let written words suggest the sounds one has to utter for them. It is possible to present a foreign language in such a way that newcomers to it, grasp as a whole: the phonetics, the correspondence grapheme-phonemes, the functional vocabulary of that language, and have nothing left for them to guess because they know it can be reached systematically. There is no doubt that atomization of knowledge is not akin to learning and, that its banishment from pedagogy as well as its replacement by the proper presentation of wholes, is beneficial to students. The traditional teaching in schools goes against children’s functionings as learners. Therefore, we can understand why our competent children become unable to make sense of the bits of knowledge which, in themselves, could not be qualified as difficult or abstract. If children are confused, it is simply because knowledge is presented in a manner which precludes its grasp. C. Another way of working in schools — still widely held by traditional educators — consists in the belief that students cannot be expected to reach understanding of what goes on in the lessons until enough subject matter has been accumulated. This approach prevails in the complex areas such as, trigonometry, the calculus, electromagnetism; organic chemistry and others. In these areas students assimilate chapter after chapter. They know how to work out bookish examples, but have very little idea of why things are what they are and what value the facts memorized have for them, intellectually or pragmatically. In spontaneous learning, the first contacts with a field are marked by the encounter with the unknown. But here, in mechanical learning (or teaching), all facts have the same finished, polished form, and nothing about their emergence is said, as if in science all facts are owed to a Jupiter who brings them out perfect from the moment of their

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conception. No throbbing thought, no tentative generation or maybe a mistaken birth, can be entertained about them. Everything about learning processes is betrayed and replaced by a tapestry where all things are equal and level. No wonder students are puzzled and intimidated, hence paralyzed, until, exceptionally, they shake the yoke of this enslavement. D. For students, the accumulation of knowledge actually is an accumulation, thus making its assimilation more and more difficult. To keep all that knowledge stored in one’s mind is cumbersome, and requires more time for learning than there is in any life. The fact is that knowledge becomes obsolete and can be discarded without any loss. New knowledge may be of a nature that a small amount of it can replace huge pre-existing quantities whose existence was justified because a legion of writers submitted endless details about innumerable matters, whether important or trivial. Summaries of findings are considered needed, and they become the knowledge which it is convenient to disseminate and retain. Progress in the sciences itself is based upon the constant reviewing of what must be held valid for the new generation of scientists, and that which would simply be only furnishings of the mind. It is accepted, axiomatically, that the school curricula may lag 30 or so years behind research. That it could be otherwise, seems too revolutionary to be considered. Still, whenever it has been possible to bring the findings of contemporary living scientists to undergraduate students, it has been found that the open minds of newcomers respond favorably to what has not yet become for them a vested interest. The obstacle resides in the difficulty in finding expositors capable of reducing the amount of background knowledge required to enter a field, and capable of taking people straight to the frontier on which the new research stands. But occasionally when they are found, they offer the correct foundations of the economics of the transmission of new knowledge, saving years of study to the growing generation.

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E. Though it has been found and mentioned in some seminars — in places like Goettingen, Cambridge, Princeton, Berkeley — that those capable of generating new knowledge do not need to be the great luminaries, and, that it is not necessary to limit to them to decide who will make the next most significant contributions in certain fields, yet it has taken a long time to conceive that great men or women are made as well as they are born. Many people attracted to research remain attached to the knowledge they acquired slowly and painfully. For them there is no point in looking at their fields of study to know if they could grow better crops with different attributes. They resist fundamental transformations and, in so doing, perhaps, contribute to the sterilization of some future great minds which get stifled and tired by all they are asked to assimilate, even though it is no longer necessary in order to be efficient in those fields. Sterilized minds among people holding advanced degrees, may form the most resistant corps among the conservative and the reactionary. A continuous reviewing of curricula may be desirable in order to cope with the constant additions which the hundreds of thousands of investigators continuously make to their fields. But such revision is prevented by the magnitude of the practical task of bringing it about. Among the young researchers who are fed old stuff, the change, both in approach and content, loses some of its meaning since, rather than contribute to the collective knowledge, they have to bring themselves diligently to the level of research of, say, 30 years ago or more. It is commonly believed that any research is based on previous knowledge. So long as we hold the preconception that the amount of knowledge we carry in our minds is the precondition for our capacity to contribute to any field, we shall not give ourselves a chance to know whether or not young children own this capacity. This whole field seems open to scrutiny, with perhaps, a number of surprises awaiting us.

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F. Verbal expression is one of the first means of self-expression we master in early childhood. It is used as a means of communication in our communities of peers, of family members, of neighbors and others. These facts gave verbal instruction an obvious place in schools, centuries ago. But it was only when universal education was adopted that its defects as well as its advantages came to light. Clearly, one advantage is that one knower can serve many non-knowers by putting into circulation a statement such as: “the U.S. Civil War started in 1861 and ended in 1865,” and by asking for it to be memorized by each of them. This feature was such an obvious and useful one that verbal instruction got adopted everywhere, and still dominates the format of lessons in all schools. For all information which can be fully understood when said aloud, the verbal mode is clearly the one that should be prescribed. But since words have no meaning of their own, no information can be extracted, for example, from the statement, “the scale of infinities is transfinite,” by just repeating it. Here we meet the boundaries of the verbal mode and they need to be investigated. In some people, the above statement evokes a large number of images, ideas, statements, processes, which constitute its meaning. For others it is a sequence of hollow sounds. Were we to include preschool children among the people presented with this statement, the latter group would become overwhelmingly numerous. We can imagine, the number of statements which are meaningless to a large number of people, is enormously large. Students can repeat statements. They can even remember them for some time. But they may not understand them, and still less, find some use for them. Contrary to all spontaneous learning — which is started by the presence of purpose, meaning, and later, usefulness — scholastic learning of statements imposed from above and only held through memorization, has no real function for the students except to produce a grade at the next test which measures how well the statements have been retained. 16


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When teachers become sufficiently frustrated with their repeated encounters with the hollowness associated with statements which were supposed to trigger meanings (as so often happens in say, geometry classes), they try other means, and sometimes succeed in generating in the minds of their students images which are indices of understanding. Still, for the majority of our school populations, the ease and availability of the verbal mode does not serve their education. So, their education consists of those skills which they acquired on their own and which led to masteries, along with those items of verbal knowledge which are held artificially in their mind for the rare occasions when they would be asked for. That which society seems to value, is not acquired as solidly as the learnings obviously of great significance for the individual, in carrying on his or her living. As social considerations gain greater and greater importance, there occurs the distortion of learning and competence, and the focus shifts from what has significance in life, to holding that which could be tested and given a grade. As a result, the numerous successes do not count, even in our own eyes, and our failures due to outside forces, loom large, to the point of demoralizing us and paralyzing us. This results in most of us being social failures, suspecting why, but being unable to restore the balance in our favor. Some of us might manage to recover from the damage, but very occasionally and mainly by luck. There is no reason why it should go on being like this. We may see the day when enough enlightened people will change the situation in favor of the students by restricting verbal communication to that which it is good at, namely, as referent to what has already been given meaning. G. We hear from time to time that teaching is easy but having people learn is a different matter. It is our contention that if we knew more about learning, we could devise better teaching approaches which allow learning to take place. Teachers are the people who are paid to spend much time with learners. They could be the main source of information on learning about the school subjects, but rarely do they avail themselves of the opportunity they alone have of being so close to learning, and of 17


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informing the world about it. Instead, they choose to obey their employers’ conditions of employment and only teach; often by telling. The implication in our proposal that teachers study learning in their classrooms, is that every teacher becomes a student of epistemology in action. So long as this is not the case, the present poor state of public education everywhere will continue to exist, for good reasons summarized as: “in our classrooms, learning is subordinated to teaching.” Not only do students have no part in deciding what is presented to them and how, but also, how they learn what is presented to them, is ignored. But it is possible to reverse the situation and “subordinate teaching to learning,” and with this, to make it possible for our students to exercise their mental powers in mastering school subjects in the way they mastered so many other skills valuable to them all through their lives. H. All the above remarks have served us to understand that the present state of affairs in education is the outcome of a number of errors committed by some people, and perpetuated by others, but it is not in the nature of the process itself. There is no doubt, today we are facing a situation which does not give us many reasons for rejoicing, nor many reasons for hope that a favorable trend is in the making. Nevertheless, there are many signs which serve as indicators that we can make radical changes within the system by acting upon the awareness of those adults engaged in the social process called public education. It costs little and does not ask for the destruction of the brick and mortar items which objectively represent the continuation of the past. Nor does it imply the firing of all the old guard, or the replacement of the administrations. It has to do with each person becoming aware of a movement of awareness within, consisting in — a. recognizing learning to be a life process that yields enormous successes;

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2 conducting teaching in a manner so that it is subordinated to the process of learning. After forty years of working out the details of that transition we can say that there will be better days ahead than heretofore, for the world school populations everywhere.

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The successes of each of us in our early childhood result from the close contact there is between the learner who has to change his time for his experience, and his self which directs the learner’s involvements and his activities. As far as knowledge is concerned, the self has none to pass to his student (who is himself) that the student does not already own. So, the difference in knowledge does not act as a lever of inspiration as it sometimes does between teacher-pupil in scholastic situations. But there exists a close contact between the self and its student, and that is an effective lever. The self uses it as a channel through which it supplies its presence to the psyche in order to motivate and energize the psyche which, in turn, mobilizes the existing know-hows and the energy stored in the soma or that which is available in the known environment. The teacher that the self is, lives at the same level of absolute as his learner. It therefore has no problem in offering the experiences in terms which are at once effective. This observation is indisputable. It can be repeated and confirmed millions of times, everywhere, since it results from looking objectively at all the little, independent learners that all babies and infants are. Besides, it contains some helpful hints for those who want to see education at all ages to be as successful as one’s education in early childhood.

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When transmuted into technical challenges, this takes a form that can be generalized and disseminated worldwide in a short time through the electronic media and the satellites, to meet the mass education ideal. The challenge, in sort, is: “to reach the successive forms belonging to the successive absolutes of each of the valuable components which are universally agreed upon as worth preserving, so as to allow the future to make good of all that which has evolved as valid in the past.” Knowledge that is valid today and will be so tomorrow, must have had a history. In that history, much that was temporarily valuable may have lost its practical value; for example, martial arts like archery or halberdry are today the province of the aficionados not the professional soldiers. Geometry, rhetoric, etc. seem to be preserved for all because we still think they provide extra means to work on problems met in adult life — although this is not sure at all. When we know the actual, real gains — obtained not from the memorized knowledge, but from the know-hows and knowings belonging to the experts’ minds in the various fields, we may then become capable of devising the curricula and the approaches which make our proposals exciting to the learners, acceptable to the teachers and making sense to parents and society at large. *** As an example of the shift in the focus from knowledge to knowing, let us consider geometry, a venerable subject that all generations of students in the western countries have been exposed to over centuries. Atoms of knowledge in geometry are called theorems and problems. But although these can be the object of lessons which can be memorized till test-time, they can also be seen as moments of awareness in the contemplation of dynamic schema generated on a screen through animated diagrams on film or video tape. Such films exist and have been studied over more than four decades. Today we can say that they mobilize both sides of the brain and, therefore, make

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sense to many more students than does the study of textbook geometry appealing mainly to the verbally inclined students, but failing to trigger the images corresponding to the words. In teaching with these films, mental images precede verbalization. These images correspond to those on the films. The images on the films are made to move in such a way that they generate specific awarenesses. In the course of the lessons these awarenesses are formulated into words. The words selected, are part of the vocabulary of geometry. Students are asked to describe what is happening to figures on the screen, and as the language is worked on to make the descriptions accurate, unambiguous, to the point, what is said sounds certainly as belonging to geometry — even as good, polished, cultivated geometry. Such statements by students embrace a cluster of propositions found in textbooks as separate atoms among theorems and problems. A 3 to 4-minute film may generate dozens of hours of dialogues on the content displayed on the screen. During these hours the students select from the images those which exemplify in a few seconds a dynamic property which can be stated as a theorem on a locus of points, or lines, defined by a specific property. Hence, theorems are generated by the students who soon learn that these propositions are neither mysterious nor arbitrary but rather, the expression of that which can be grasped as existing on its own right and only requiring awareness, presence, a power to verbalize what one sees, and thus, which carries with it conviction and even certainty of its truth. Thus, if we consider all circles in a plane which are tangent externally to a fixed given circle, and if we select from among these all those which have constant radius, we see immediately that all the centers of this family are on a circle concentric to the given and whose radius is made of the sum of the radii of the two circles in the figure. This is a theorem, even a useful one to solve a number of problems. Such a connection with geometry is healthy for the student who, instead of being intimidated by the aloofness of geometrical propositions, sees them now as a process of selection of easy properties open to him, and which he can easily entertain and talk about. The well is there in one’s perception, and one can always come up with a new

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proposition by plunging into it. The dual process of enriching each image with the infinity of samples that have the same property, and of reducing a class of possibilities to one of them (which is still represented by an infinity of instances), are both open to the students and make them feel creative in this field. They need not, and do not relate to any static knowledge. Instead, they know what it is to know in this universe which can become more and more open to them and where they can dwell as they choose. In working in this way, a classical field of study gains the attributes we all encounter in our spontaneous learnings in early childhood. All our activities have the structures of games and, as in all other games, our activities can be integrated, producing know-hows which get absorbed in our flesh. Students feel that they can be geometers if they choose to devote enough time to that, just as they know they can become athletes, swimmers or boxers because of their soma and their will. Here, it is the dynamics of images they have to be with. The energy in these is at hand, and it responds to the will. Retention is the result of the awareness that one can go, once more, over the same productive processes which generate the same entities. *** We know how to make mathematics second nature for all those who play some of the games we have proposed. Other games lead to owning other desirable fields of endeavor, such as a number of languages other than one’s own. If the games we propose are recognized as such and played seriously, then anyone can learn several languages, and this, not to the exclusion of learning other things, like music, art, sciences etc. We know how to let illiterate speakers of a certain language become readers of that language in a small number of hours, and into writers, a few days later. This is possible mainly because we know how to apply the powers used in cracking the spoken language, to deciphering the

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written language. With this, learning to read becomes an easy challenge. When we consider writing — which requires a mastery of spelling, in addition to the skills of putting down on paper the forms corresponding to the spoken words — we present students with a panoramic view of their language arranged in a manner that makes sense of all the graphemes which correspond to all the phonemes in that language. We also involve them in playing games which relate their powers of perception, evocation, recognition to one another and to the photographic image of each word, so that the students are clear as to what they have to do to see the forms words have and to hold those forms in their minds, and be in readiness to respond to their requests. To reach mastery in these fields, the cost in terms of time and energy could be estimated accurately enough. Having done it, we can say that it is far less high than it is assumed today among educators. Hence, much more knowing is possible by almost all learners, for the same expenditure of time and practice. In a way, with the approach we propose, it is possible to generate a situation — in the learning of school subjects — which is similar to that which everyone develops alone and spontaneously, for the acquisitions in early childhood. Our findings augur well for what can be done in the future, when more skilled teachers and educators than there are now, make their tested and proven contributions. *** The most important message in these solutions to some of the educational problems we have raised in this issue is that: the possibility exists, of working with youngsters beyond the early childhood years, in ways which keep the learners at school in contact with their learning powers and, in touch with the criteria which guide their true learning. If taken up, not only can the losses experienced at present be cut, but a totally different learning climate can be created, the one which stresses the humanness of learning. This, indeed, is far more than the maintenance of the cultural conquests made by various successive communities in the past. The approach being suggested here replaces 25


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learning with and within creativity. It nourishes creativity, the proper functioning of the human spirit present in all humans. This approach enables human beings to be no longer conditioned by the human condition, for in it, learning becomes synonymous with deliberate change made by the aware beings who meet the specific demands, who see what there is to do, and who do it to be more themselves, without fuss and with determination. Education thus gains its true meaning as an agent for human evolution. This we already know, and it inspires us to go beyond where we are, in agreement with the explicit demonstration that our steps are realistic while they make us more human. The future descends on us not mortgaged by our past, true to itself and our true evolution.

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Two important texts by Dr. Gattegno appeared recently: “The Common Sense of Teaching Rending and Writing” and “The Learning and Teaching of Foreign Languages” Chapter 13 of The Science of Education. The first one is Volume 3 of the series started in 1973, with a volume on teaching math and followed, in 1976, by a volume on teaching foreign languages. Volume 3 was seven years in the making and has been sent to the printers now, with a publication date of January ‘85. Another volume was almost completed in 1974 which was to serve teachers of the deaf. But its publication was delayed indefinitely when Absolute Visual. Reading (the film designed for deaf students to learn to read by bypassing the acquisition of speech in English), failed to attract attention. Other volumes of this series are at different stages in their development. 1 “The Common Sense of Teaching Reading and Writing” is the elaboration in great detail, of two chapters of the treatise the “Science of Education,” one on reading and one on writing. To make this book independent of the rest of this treatise, it was necessary to include in it the study of a number of techniques which are given in separate chapters of the treatise. Here, they are illustrated with examples belonging to awarenesses essential for nurturing independence, autonomy and a sense of responsibility in the students aiming at mastering all the skills pertaining to reading and writing.

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Of particular interest are — 1

The chapter on the Act of Reading: In it the author scrutinizes what readers do to connect functionally with a printed page. He develops the approach called “R0”, which gives beginners the discipline of reading that allows them to let words dictate what must be said for each of them.

2 The chapter on Spelling: In it the author studies the various components involved in the mastery of spelling as well as the contribution each component makes to the whole. Along with that, numerous techniques are given which lead writers to becoming incomparably better spellers. 3 The chapter on the various meanings of the word “reading”: In it the author goes into the several meanings (about twenty) the word “reading” has, and explains why endless arguments among reading specialists do not seem to settle matters once and for all. To come across the display of these various meanings is quite an illuminating experience. 4 The chapter on “R4”: This chapter is given to one of the meanings of reading, namely, reading for the acquisition of knowledge. Since most people acquire knowledge through reading, called by the author “R4”, this meaning has a special importance for education through schooling. In this long chapter are reviewed the demands which prevail when “R4” is the main means of learning the traditional disciplines such as: mathematics (geometry and algebra); physics, chemistry, and biology; history, geography and economics, etc. 5 The chapters on “R1”, “R2”, “R3”: In them the author deals with three meanings of reading which correspond to the masteries involved in reading and writing anything one can say. This part of the book represents what teachers of reading need as a manual to guide them to becoming proficient in the application of the technology known on the market as Words in Color. 6 The chapters on writing: In these four short chapters the main stress is on making readers relate intimately with the “writer” in themselves through the awareness of what 28


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they have that they would like to say, how they say it, and what is required to give it the written format. The chapters include the techniques which help students move on to the study of that which is (or are) the genre(s) they can excel in. One of the chapters can be studied separately from the other three as it is written with adult populations as well as school children, in mind. This book is a thorough and detailed study of the challenges encountered by all investigators in the two fields of reading and writing. At the same time, it provides a set of innovative and exciting proposals to renew the teaching of reading and writing at all levels. More than previous monographs connected with Words in Color, which appeared during the ‘60s and ‘70s, this new text makes explicit the dual preoccupation of Dr. Gattegno, viz., 1

improving education, and

2 doing so on the basis of an improved understanding of the fields. Because of his new epistemology, there is little danger that the contents of this book would become obsolete in the near future. Anyone interested, will find a sufficient number of possible new research themes in it that could nourish a growing number of investigators in these fields. 2 The long Chapter 13 of the Science of Education is not quite a book, though it can be considered a monograph on language acquisition. Dr. Gattegno started his systematic research in this area in 1959. In the course of time, he developed an approach to teaching languages which came to be known as The Silent Way. During his research he met two problems simultaneously: language learning is done successfully by babies everywhere and, rarely so successfully by those endeavoring to acquire a second language. “What makes the first one possible, and how to transfer that success to the second?” This was the fascinating dual challenge Dr. Gattegno faced. He met the challenge successfully by relating to it in the light of the new epistemology which had been

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already fifteen years in its elaboration, and which he had tested exhaustively in the field of mathematics with varied populations. His new epistemology brought new lightings to the field of language learning. This monograph can be envisaged as representing one more field of application of the new epistemology. Of course, readers do not need to be involved in this epistemology per se. They may even ignore that background. They will find that every page is devoted either to some aspect of the acquisition of L1 (first language), or to meeting the challenges teachers encounter in their L2 (second languages) classes. Already, in Teaching Foreign Languages in Schools (1963, 1972) and The Universe of Babies (1973), the acquisition of L1 has been focused upon at length and its significance for later studies stressed. Since this chapter belongs to a treatise the unity of which rests on the awareness of awareness, it only contains the development of the arguments which restore to young children their true powers, and to learning — human, conscious learning — its place in everybody’s life. Gattegno has based his study of teaching languages on one crucial factual observation of his, namely, the complex tasks of learning the “most foreign of all languages, the mother tongue,” which are encountered and executed extremely well and systematically, very early. He insists that we learn to appreciate how we all do it. Energy and time are the two most important instruments used by Gattegno in his new epistemology. The reader of this text can see how, with the help of these instruments, it is clearly possible to detect the nuances which generally escape one. The findings gathered over the years under the new lighting, are presented in the pages of this monograph. For example, the notion called talking in contrast to speaking, makes a remarkable difference in the understanding of the acquisition of L1. Students of this field can now make sense of a lot which has been confusing for so long by comprehending Gattegno’s insights into: “the effortlessness in babies learning their first language.”

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Gattegno convincingly conveys that teaching and learning of L2 is, indeed, a manageable challenge when it is identified to being: first, meeting the baby in every student, i.e. their learning powers; and then, helping them to transfer all the know-hows acquired in the beginning (talking) to the alternative forms, the new ones of L2 so that they master that which in it is speaking. Readers will welcome the information that this monograph has received the attention of Dr. Earl H. Stevick who, as a work of love, hammered every sentence so that it sounded English and was no more obscure. For years, Dr. Stevick has been dedicatedly serving the interests of people active in language classrooms in different parts of the world. No doubt, the readers of this monograph will benefit from the touches with which he has refined this text. This chapter will stand out from all the others in the treatise because of that care, given so generously.

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1 England A. The Bristol Workshop And Seminar “Know Thyself, Style Year 2000” Though all of us claim to want to know ourselves, only 25 people came to work on that theme. When they left, they did not know themselves much better, since the stress was as much on the last three words as on the first two. But perhaps in time they will. For most, it was a very new approach to knowing oneself to have to spend so much time on matters which did not concern them at all; like the evolutions of matter, of plants and animals. Only in the vicinity of the year 2000 is it possible to ask oneself, “to what extent am I matter and what does it do to my knowledge of myself?” or, replacing matter, by plant or animal, to repeat those questions about those last two realms on earth. Of course, once we moved away from awkwardness and puzzlement, it was possible to know precisely that today to know oneself does not result from introspection and reflection only. We are much too complex and need help from all the sciences. That is why modern style knowledge of oneself may be so different from the ancient “Know Thyself” repeated so often. While working on the details of the successive topics of the main theme, there lingered a nostalgia for the ancient, philosophical and 33


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introspective slants of the original quest. But there was enough to marvel about in the complexity of the challenge and the enormous need for precise instruments of study, that all felt there may be something there worth exploring. To know oneself is left for the future; a near future, for he who works diligently and steadily. Is it not to know oneself to find out to what extent one’s temperament is predetermined by the molecular nature of our soma? Does not our soma prevent us from reaching an understanding of the extent and limitations of our freedom to involve ourselves in some enterprises and relations? Temperament is clearly linked to the soma and its features and properties. It takes us to knowing ourselves as a chemical complex which can be affected chemically, and awareness of this may lead us to see some of our actions as violations of its sanctity or preservation of its integrity. To know oneself as belonging to the animal kingdom or not, is as important in determining the extent of our responsibility or absence of it, because of the ways of working on instincts in that realm. To understand ourselves in relation to whether we own instincts or not led us to a different view of human beings, hence of ourselves, as we reach evidence of our being a species comprised of a singular member: ourselves as individuals with a consciousness all our own. The time of the seminar given to finding the impact of each realm to which we belong on the singular person we are, provided the basis for a more realistic knowledge of ourselves and therefore to a more precise estimation of our personal responsibility in reaching freedom or in remaining bound. A creature free of instincts is responsible for a set of actions which originate in ourselves and, thus we become more accountable to ourselves and others. The evolution of the fourth realm means this more and more, and may lead to a fifth realm, the one of evolved human beings taking their evolution in their own hands. A concentrated, direct and passionate study of difficult themes asking a lot of the participants may have sowed the seeds for a much calmer and realistic meeting of oneself. This meeting may permit one to assess constantly what one is thinking, doing, feeling, and to live with a 34


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vigilance and watchfulness of every moment needed to remain healthy in an inner and outer environment polluted in so many ways. The aim of the ancient quest thus remains, to know oneself in order to live more consciously; but now, the means, though more complex and numerous, can be offered to all as serving everyone; as more at reach, and more needed to contribute to the harmony of ourselves participating in the natural, social and spiritual universes which are ours and can be integrated into a human universe in expansion. This can serve as a definition of the fifth realm. “The History of Mathematics in Terms of Awareness” This seminar — conceived in 1957 as the theme of an international one (within the annual or semiannual meetings of the International Commission for the Study and the Improvement of the Teaching of Mathematics, founded in 1950 by Dr. Gattegno) and reduced (in 1984) to an invitation to members of ATM to study its value in today’s world — attracted a very small number of people. More precisely 15, three of whom had nothing to do with mathematics in their professional capacity. Awareness, and awareness of the awareness, although encountered a number of times by the participants, had remained mysterious and was not yet an instrument of study for those who attended. But, the keenness to know what they were and how to use them in one’s work, eliminated the sterile discussions of opposing camps. Good work resulted from that goodwill. During the first day, the history of mathematics and the existing histories the participants had studied, were considered, soon to find that, to date, none took the viewpoint offered for this seminar. What is required in order to rewrite the history of math so that it is understood as a succession of human experiments by people who work on what occupied their consciousness before and while they grasped the reality of what they were contemplating and who went on to prove its truth to the satisfaction of all?

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A few celebrated examples of human behavior by one or more researchers brought back the vividness of the encounter of a challenge and the course followed after it. In particular, the Greeks’ encounter with which has been reported in all histories, occupied us for some time. It served to start a serious study of what we were doing while recounting the event and how we related to it. Still, there was a clamor for more light upon the working of awareness at that time as it was done in this room. The dramatization of Thales’ theorem was crucial for this group to see that by invoking the Greek author struggling with the challenge of dividing a given segment into three equal parts and finding the traditional successful construction method of division into 2, 4, 8 . . . parts of no use and seeking where to turn to solve this seemingly simple challenge, needed to open his mind to let a totally different approach come to him. This story produced in the group a sudden relaxation and a clear insight into awareness. It was seen that Thales needed it so as to change gear, forget about the compasses and rulers as they were used in constructions and to propose an entirely different solution. Later, work done on integers and the construction of a Pythagorean Table showed more clearly that man can only do the study of his awareness and its content and state what he finds there which may not be immediately or ever, significant for others. A fine moment in the day’s work was made of the attempt at introducing the “non-mathematical” (n-m) members of the group to the Newtonian concept of the integral. Using an intuitive approach which was considered as being likely to have been Newton’s own, the three (n-m) people seemed to have a clear grasp of the challenge and why Newton’s approach was reasonable and why it might have been adopted. On this point, discussion showed that the awareness approach still evoked some opposition. It seemed illegitimate to state that one could reach another person’s way of working beyond what that person had let

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us know of it. Of course, this applies particularly to the dead mathematicians whom one cannot interview. The second day had a number of moments considered by some as illuminating. The study of the solution of quadratic equations gave rise to a way of making students aware of what the originators could not have done, since they were not preoccupied with awareness and worked within certain disciplines. If one can be made aware that algebra is the name of the mental game of affecting operations by operations, it becomes possible, in a very short time, to obtain all the cases of the quadratic one can think of — except the one given in algebra books which needs another awareness easy enough to bring in so as to complete the job. A similar situation arose with the problem of division of fractions where almost everything can result from the treatment of two or three awarenesses and a last step which requires a special awareness, this time less easy to bring about. The recasting of the history of mathematics in terms of awareness showed itself as having several meanings which must all be tackled at the same time and which must involve a certain number of people. Since the task is complex and vast, a glimpse of what all this entails and of its significance, left the participants dreaming of a possibility for them to make their contribution. For some, this glimpse enhanced the inner tone of their search of mind and they felt an awakening enthusiasm towards the descending future. History of math stopped being a chronological catalog of discoveries to become another way of knowing oneself by becoming aware of how historical figures (met in that field) handled themselves, their prejudices, their adherence to their own experiences, their struggles to free themselves from cultural shackles, the flights into new freedoms and the gifts of themselves they made. To know oneself as both bound and capable of some freeing acts might make the study of the histories of those who met themselves in that quandary a true component of one’s human education. A rich two days, full of promise. B. London Seminars One Day On “Working With Others” This title was selected by some members of the Association of Teachers of Mathematics (ATM) of Great Britain to work with the founder of the

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Association (1952- ). Quite a number of those who responded to the invitation to join this seminar had only heard rumors about that man who was to be the leader, and not all of them were favorable. Four had been at Charney Manor for one week of study in 1981. The topic chosen precluded working on some mathematical subject. So, after enquiring from each participant what brought him or her there and with which expectations, the title was taken as a guide: first, trying to know what is implied for each in the word “others,” then in “with” and finally in “work.” The time spent on each permitted to make sufficient progress in revealing to oneself a number of points to work on, that in their final feedback most stated categorically that it had been useful to be involved in these matters in that way. Some were surer than others in the benefits they had gained personally for their work which is with adults, with other Committee Members of ATM and with students of any age. The climate of that day betrayed a new sense of “working with others,” in harmony, and dedicated to the meeting of some challenges at hand. A Weekend on “Language Acquisition” The relatively small group of registrants had been attracted either because they had read articles or a book on the theme in the title or to work with the author of The Silent Way. None had come prepared to examine in depth what was required to meet the challenge. Therefore, much work was left to the leader to bring everyone face to face with it and its demands. A study of early childhood is never easy, most of the people in the world have no idea how to approach what they went through so many years ago and how to verify the truth of what is stated as having been found. Some of the participants brought up the usual objections stemming from reading stories about children in odd situations rather than coming to terms with the need for proper investigating instruments.

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When these instruments were being forged in their presence they were not allowed to be tested first and then, accepted for their efficacy. They were ignored, or they were looked at with a certain diffidence, and questions not to the point and distractive, were proposed instead. It took some time to bring the group to using the discipline of ascertaining everything before moving to something else. But this discipline was achieved at the end of the first 5-hour session. From then on the study of the ways we all use our time, as babies; how well we manage to unfold our powers of observation of ourselves; and come to know ourselves as students of what can be done with our voluntary somatic systems — began to make sense of the fact known to all that we only begin to speak a few months after our birth. Also, that it is necessary to look at babies as conscious learning systems, moving deliberately from one exercise to another in order to achieve an integrated whole made of mastered skills which serve each other. We do not do everything on our own in a manner which puts adult observers on the track of the actual activities of human spontaneous learning which are needed in order to understand the miracle of learning —among others — to speak. The study of the acquisition of L1 is a magnificent example of how we educate ourselves in order to make visible and comprehensible the hidden, to the point that it (the acquisition of L1) becomes obvious and so that nothing could be otherwise. Hours and hours are needed to present to grownups of goodwill, the details of that apprenticeship started three or four weeks after birth and taking from nine months to two and three years normally. But those details form a beautiful fabric of lighted segments interwoven by artists knowing what they are doing and why: and doing it so well that it lasts the rest of our lives. Whatever was possible in the Friday and Saturday sessions was done taking into account the actual people who were present. Even if no one could state verbatim what had to be looked at in detail, it seemed that all had learned to look at what had escaped them (and others) for so long. The last sessions on Sunday were devoted to expressing how, if we want to take advantage of the acquisition of L1 for the acquisition of L2, materials and techniques must be invented. That was and is the

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inspiration which produced The Silent Way. Looking at the Sound/Color Chart as the instrument for enhancing “talking” in L2, at Word Chart 12 as the basis for giving newcomers a chunk of the L2 concerned with numeration and arithmetic; Charts 1-9 (for ESL) and a box of rods for seeing to it that meaning precedes the payment of ogdens for the functional vocabulary which provides the criteria of Tightness and adequacy — it became clear that in The Silent Way, all the most profound needs of learners of L2 have been met and opportunities for adequate practice provided. On the whole, a dynamic, rigorous study of the acquisition of L2, was possible in those 20 hours.

2 Italy Two Days In Rome Day-one was spent with a group of consultants to a company specialized in services to other companies in Italy, very large ones, medium and small ones in which the government has a part. Twelve hours of intensive work served to bring to these people, meeting Dr. Gattegno for the first time, the lights they could receive from the Science of Education. Preoccupied with their own challenges and problems, they were happy to find that solutions exist which, although unforeseen, looked practical. The fact that printed, video and microcomputer materials existed and could be looked at, criticized and assessed, gave the group a concrete basis to feel confident in the future, which words alone could never have provided for them. All the participants expressed satisfaction with their day. During this compact seminar (two days in one), there was time enough to thrash things out, to sense directions of experimentation and of a valid reform in the education of adults working at various levels in Italian corporations. Day-two was taken by a fairly large group of language teachers (33) to get some insights into what the stress on awareness provides uniquely 40


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and helpfully in classrooms. In the morning, the study concerned “affectivity” and required the introduction of most — who had never worked in that way — to human energy and its characterizations of the “self;” of the soma and the psyche as objectivations by the self in-utero and ex-utero; and of affectivity as the residual energy needed to encounter the new on behalf of the self which then mobilizes the psyche and the soma to execute the project. The afternoon was used to show how some of The Silent Way materials and techniques help learning by mobilizing the self and affectivity to deposit in one’s psyche the actual energetic equivalents of what one is working on. An Italian teacher not knowing much English helped (during two hours) to concretize all that. Cecilia Bartoli at present in Rome assisted in the preparation of both seminars.

3 France A. Dijon Invited by a psychiatric center of the University to give an evening lecture on “Children and Learning,” Dr. Gattegno chose to invite the audience to consider why we know so little of very early childhood learning. An audience of over 300 people mainly made of teachers and therapists did not want to leave 31/2 hours after starting getting into this fascinating question. That babies actually do so much with their time until they learn to waste it on school seats, came as a revelation to a usually critical sector of French society. The intensity of the silence in the lecture hall was noted by many and experienced as a testimony of the readiness of those French people to become serious about this matter. A request for a longer return came from the organizers who unknowingly had been expecting 20 or so people to respond to an invitation worded very neutrally and sent out to the schools of the area mostly unaware of Dr. Gattegno’s educational work.

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B. Besançon This 20-hour weekend seminar drew 35 participants from areas up to 200 kms. away. The theme was not very attractive: “Rational principles for a reform of education in France” and kept a number of people away. This mainly because, in centralized France, only the Ministry instigates reforms and most people do not find these understandable. Thus it was not easy to arouse any enthusiasm for the reforms per se until the last afternoon. But the study of rational principles which allowed so many subjects to be brought to the floor was very lively and generated passionate involvements. The whole proceedings were recorded and may be produced by that Association of volunteers who are actively engaged in publishing Dr. Gattegno’s work for wider dissemination in France. (This is the Association about which earlier News Items referred and which attracted positive responses to help from volunteers from England and the United States.) C. Paris Two 20-hour seminars had been decided by March but a number of problems within the Paris Association at this present time did not permit their announcement till mid-October. Thus a small group responded, of which only one-third was from Paris itself. The first seminar concerned itself with the study of the deep sources of creativity, a topic believed to be right for Paris and a population of writers and artists second to none in the world. It may still be, but those who came were mainly interested in the kind of work they expect from being in a seminar with Dr. Gattegno, whatever the topic. The usual approach of first finding instruments which guarantee a fruitful handling of the theme and its various aspects took up the first evening (5 p.m. to 10 p.m.). Provisional definitions were accepted which proved able to make participants work overnight in manners judged intense. The second day concerned itself with moving towards “sources,” and was developed into a much deeper study. An examination of a few works of art in a few fields widened the net-catching material for the study. The method remained a closer use of the inner life and of 42


News Items

sensitivity of the creative minds rather than the examination of the final product as an impressive outcome of creativity. The third day was taken up by the role of the preparation of people from the start of their lives in grasping what comes to them from outside as well as innerly. Innocence and intense presence in one’s preception may be the most powerful bases for Man to hold alive in his mind scenes and people he will depict on canvas or words. Such bases would allow creative people to be found everywhere in all periods to express their insights into their reality and that of the world. The place of somatic structuration inutero was encountered and used a little in some cases. The fourth day was given in part to exploiting the role of temperament met the night before and in summing up the findings. “A fine study,” was the unanimous final feedback. The weekend seminar of 20 hours on “The support collectivities give individuals” was directed towards finding which are the items never noticed by all of us, which make individuals contribute to the collectivities we associate with and how much these collectivities make our lives more creative and freer. The group tended to want definitions of terms when intuitions were needed. The discipline of learning in front of such broad challenges had to be obtained if the topics were to appear less arid and even exciting. This happened only occasionally, though the seminar proved fruitful and helpful.

4 Geneva Switzerland The two seminars of 20 hours each were held as always at the International School. The first, during four evenings (5 p.m. to 10 p.m.) and the second on the weekend. From L1 to L2 was the first opportunity to introduce to some Frenchspeaking public, Dr. Gattegno’s work now being considered of interest everywhere because of the fad generated by some linguists in the United States, particularly in Southern California. Having to use the French language and examples in that language, a new survey of the acquisition of L1 became possible which yielded new

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The Powers Of Self-Education Maintained

and interesting observations and conclusions. Much more documented than it is in Chapter XIII of the Science of Education treatise and at the London seminar reported above, the study of L1 will add new material for those who will read the transcript of those four evenings when it appears in French next year. The demands of the French mode of thought and the spirit of French made that the exposition be tighter and closer knit than the English language requires since in this language examples convince and are capable of transferring insights from investigator to observers. No one believed at the end that babies do not do by themselves all the work we gather under the label “talking” (in French “le pre-parler”) and which sounds fantastic only to superficial onlookers. When “speaking” was entered upon, there was less need of the same amount of details as for “talking” and so there remained enough time to give to acquisition of L2. An Englishman who did not speak French and had joined the group on the third evening served as student to illustrate how the baby in each of us can be revived to allow great strides in learning L2; mainly the acquisition of the proper flow of words. This seminar served well clearing the paths ahead of all linguists and language teachers interested in acquisition and serious enough to take the trouble to truly find out. The weekend seminar was on “Revealing the human in each of us.” Taking advantage of the ambiguity behind the title it was possible to blend the viewpoints which allowed everyone to concern oneself with the general evolution which revealed Man to himself and those which allowed the study of the criteria which brought forth some time the prehuman in one and at some other time the human or even the other three realms. Most of the participants had read “Conscience de la conscience” or attended previous seminars which were dedicated to human relativity, energy or affectivity. Hence the work could quickly reach a high level of disciplined discussion of the revelators of humanness in Man. At each of the two-hour or ninety-minute sessions, concentration on one of the revelators gave a chance for a deeper examination of the human stages 44


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of evolution in Man over the millennia up to our own generation’s time. Some of these studies were judged as more important than others by those who summed up the seminar as it unfolded and at the final feedback. The sense of truth and integrity were mentioned most often as a source of future personal involvement. But living without instincts and with self-responsibility also had a place of honor. The overall conclusion was that as babies each of those present had had all the attributes to show themselves as humans only guided by a sense of truth, with no need to please anyone, with one’s criteria of reaching reality and doing so for some time and very well; and only later abandoning one’s need to know and yielding one’s will to repressive forces at home and in society in order to obtain a certain peace in the world at large, which wields powers judged too great to be resisted by children functioning without those in the immanent. Thus, hope for a human society on earth or for a humanity, functioning mainly beyond prehumanity — at present found almost everywhere and all the time at this stage of evolution — became a possibility, dictating conducts to the participants now ready to accept greater responsibility for themselves as grownups. Of course, individual impacts were much greater than could be stated in the few words each allowed oneself.

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We are informed that a group of educators in the United Kingdom came together to study the contributions to their work of Dr. Gattegno’s proposals. In two seminars last academic year they found that there was enough to do to attempt to work on a more structured program. The group took the name “The List,” and can be joined or be informed about by writing to Mr. M.J. Hollyfield 11 Crown St. Reading RG1 2TQ, U.K.  

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About Caleb Gattegno Caleb Gattegno is the teacher every student dreams of; he doesn’t require his students to memorize anything, he doesn’t shout or at times even say a word, and his students learn at an accelerated rate because they are truly interested. In a world where memorization, recitation, and standardized tests are still the norm, Gattegno was truly ahead of his time. Born in Alexandria, Egypt in 1911, Gattegno was a scholar of many fields. He held a doctorate of mathematics, a doctorate of arts in psychology, a master of arts in education, and a bachelor of science in physics and chemistry. He held a scientific view of education, and believed illiteracy was a problem that could be solved. He questioned the role of time and algebra in the process of learning to read, and, most importantly, questioned the role of the teacher. The focus in all subjects, he insisted, should always be placed on learning, not on teaching. He called this principle the Subordination of Teaching to Learning. Gattegno travelled around the world 10 times conducting seminars on his teaching methods, and had himself learned about 40 languages. He wrote more than 120 books during his career, and from 1971 until his death in 1988 he published the Educational Solutions newsletter five times a year. He was survived by his second wife Shakti Gattegno and his four children.

www.EducationalSolutions.com

The Powers Of Self Education Maintained  
The Powers Of Self Education Maintained  

The Powers Of Self Education Maintained

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