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Of Music And Language

Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc.

Caleb Gattegno


vol. XVII no. 3

February 1988

First published in 1988. Reprinted in 2009. Copyright Š 1988-2009 Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc. Author: Caleb Gattegno All rights reserved ISBN 978-0-87825-333-3 Educational Solutions Worldwide Inc. 2nd Floor 99 University Place, New York, N.Y. 10003-4555

Many people have ideas about this matter. In the following articles, our bias is to be found in our attempt to help language teachers to think of improvements in their classrooms by allowing their experience of music to influence their pedagogical thinking. Since the two fields are vast and touch people differently, there is no doubt, a great deal more can be said on this subject beyond what these articles bring forth. Our hope is that this issue of our Newsletter will stimulate research and experimentation by our readers as well as by those they work with. There could, indeed, be some improvement in teaching as a result of people considering some of the topics discussed here. Occasionally a music teacher accepts a job as a language teacher. He or she may be frustrated to find that his or her two interests are watertightly separated. Should it be like this? We think that some of the answers to this question can be found in the following pages. News Items close this issue as usual.

Table of Contents

1 Of Music And Memory ....................................................... 1 2 The Arbitrariness Of Words .............................................. 7 3 The Awareness Of Melody In Language ............................ 11 4 Another Way Of Achieving A Good Flow Of Words...........17 5 Of Language And Memory ............................................... 21 News Items ......................................................................... 25 1 In France ...................................................................................... 25 A Weekend In Besancon On “The Source Of Our Creativity.” ....................................................................... 25 A Weekend In Paris On “La Lecture En Couleurs.” ...............26 2 A Week In Geneva ........................................................................ 27 3 A Week In Italy .............................................................................28 4 One Month In Israel, For A Gattegno Language School .............30

Announcements ........................... 33

1 Of Music And Memory

What can we learn about the ways in which memory is at work in us as we listen to music and/or create music? Since the instrument of our study here is music, we will refrain from defining it and thus, avoid being caught in the rigidity of verbal definition. Let us first recall some of our experiences with music which highlight our musical sense. 1 Say, our radio set is on, broadcasting a tune. We are not being especially attentive to it and we do not intend to relate to it in any special way. Yet, the mere fact that we can hear it, involves us in a manner that if the same tune comes again on the air a few days later, it is recognized as having been heard before. This recognition is there because the energy of the sounds has impacted us and has been stored in our soma without our deliberate cooperation and, the distribution of that energy over the duration of the tune has been held intact in our memory. We say we recognize that tune and we know we heard it earlier. These two aspects of our memory: that the reality of the tune comes back and, that the knowledge that it had been heard before comes with it, are direct observations open to every one of us.


Of Music And Language

So, even when we hear tunes casually, their internal temporal structures as well as the succession of the amounts of energy they represent, are both taken in as such, and, they remain in us, as such, for durations not known because ‘casual memory’ has not been studied seriously enough by anyone, yet. We cannot recall at will the tunes heard by chance only once. The question comes to mind: “After how many casual exposures to a tune does this tune become recallable at will?” 2 If we hear a tune we already know, we may be stirred to hum along with it, or feel our head move in tune with it, or find that the whole of our soma is involved. This means that it is our somatic system that remembers the tune. In other words, we remember music somatically even if we do not know where exactly in our soma. But it is remembered as a well-knit set of quanta of energy located temporarily on the duration of the tune. This duration itself is a somatic reality called “the real time” of the tune. It differs radically from the evocation of it which, because it can be instantaneous, is an intellectual activity of the self. In our memory we can find the reflection of the properties of our activities in terms of the impacts of energy. Thus, the memory of a thought or an idea, is also a thought or an idea, i.e., a “nothing.” The memory of a tune, on the other hand, is a concatenated set of quanta of energy each having a particular value correspondence to the actual value of the impact of the sound with attributes which can be translated as increases, decreases or plateaus within the temporal density of the tune. Because of this, whether we hum or “sing” a tune, it is recognizable by those who receive the substitute of the tune we put out in the air. Tunes, as we hold them in our memory, are also descriptions of the structure of memory, and, the set of all the tunes we remember, is also a set of memory structures compatible with the somatic structures — at least of the brain — needed to support them. Thus, the presence of so many tunes in our minds, with their different temporal structures, can be instrumental in reaching those memory structures which structure our “time of life” (temps vecu). That time is the substance of our lives,


2 The Arbitrariness Of Words

reached in its reality, if we want to know what it is. It seems there is no better instrument to discover the structure of the “time of life” than music. Since “new” music exists, it tells us that that “time of life” is not given once for all (as is the “time of mechanics,” for example). This may hold many surprises for future students of time. All this transfers wholesale to our memory, and we can now see that memory is not just one fixed thing (even though we have only one word for it) but an evolving temporal attribute of our self, always renewed and changing. By accommodating new rhythms, foreign musics, we display a deeper acquaintance with our memory, provided we decide to become aware of this and focus on our awareness. An abstract study of music can be done by reversing the process, that is, by using as an instrument “temporal structures” assumed to be more primitive and belonging to human beings by definition. When this approach is taken, it is “musics” that we study, for there is room in the study for concrete and cultural components not studied under the heading of time. The abstract study can only reach the wealth of structures and perhaps attain their totality, as a mathematical entity. This could be of interest to some investigators and to those looking for the source of new rhythms outside musical instruments. 3 One musical instrument which belongs to most of us is the human voice. Since voice is also used for languages, we can know more about language learning, by learning about the dynamics of memory at work in us as singers. Songs, by definition, blend melody (pure music) and words. Generally, we learn both the tune and the words at the same time and they emerge together when we decide to sing. Whenever we learn a song we manage to place the words at exact points on the tune and we believe that this blending is the only one possible. We never try to alter that connection. If we do some transpositions, as for example, when we sing a canon, we consider that the temporal connection cannot be changed and the link with the words must remain untouched but the notes can be altered. 3

Of Music And Language

As we proceed in our study of music and memory, let us consider another phenomenon which occurs frequently: the one of forgetting. It is a common experience to find ourselves having forgotten either the words of a song or the melody (besides being capable of forgetting the song altogether). How is this possible? The occurrence of forgetting sheds light on the fact that even though we have the impression that we come to learn the words and the melody together, yet, in reality our memory records the two separately. The illusion persists that the two are registered simultaneously by a single act of memorization. This is so because the two are held blended together by and in the mind. This energy affects us directly. To understand words or the meaning they carry, we go through our intellect. We hold the words and their meanings by a very different process (although since there is energy present in words too, we must use for them a similar process of retention). A different and a more accurate view of the dynamics of memory emerges as we take into account the fact that in our forgetfulness, words and notes of a song can get separated. What also becomes clear is that there is an active mind involved in memorizing a song and it is our mental activity which produces the retained result. This result does not come from the plasticity of the brain which is accessible to the overall energy carried by the song. A song is a construct, an artificial entity capable of cleavage. By observing the cleavage, we can become aware of the components. We can, thus, understand better what our memory is, in reality. For retaining words, we see two energy processes used by our mind: one connected to actual quanta of energy and the other (which we shall examine more thoroughly in the next article) related to how we retain words whose meaning is not in their own reality. [Note that opera singers, who are asked to memorize words in arias and sing without knowing the language, emit amounts of energy which, perhaps are associated with an image that stands for the meaning, since memorized words (of a language they do not know) cannot be triggers of meanings as in the case of their mother tongue.] ***


2 The Arbitrariness Of Words

We have come to a realistic understanding of how memory works in us, by incorporating in our study the examples which illustrate the place of memory in music as impacts of energy. We could have considered other components of our lives which also are energy, such as, images, sensations, emotions. But they do not reflect the temporal structures as clearly as do tunes or songs. These other energy components are, indeed, connected both to music and to language, and we shall bring them in when it is relevant and appropriate to do so in our present study.


2 The Arbitrariness Of Words

We shall not need much space to deal with this aspect of language, although for all of us who constantly use language to relate to others, orally or in writing, it is shocking to discover that “words have no meaning by themselves.� A definite proof of the truth of the above statement can be found in a simple experiment: let two groups of people speak one to the other in a language foreign to the other. The members of the two groups will, obviously, get nothing from what strikes their ears. This is so because as users of language we relate to words through our elaborate intellect and are inclined to pay attention to the energy distributions carried by the voices, only when our intellectual need is being met. When the intellect is not actively involved, we conclude at once, and peremptorily, that we understand nothing. On our shelves we all have one or more language dictionaries. These exist to help us find meanings which have been associated with given words. There are no dictionaries for images because images reach us directly and trigger their equivalent in us. Words do that only after an elaborate process has already taken place in us, namely, learning to speak and articulate the most common tasks of life. We have in our mother tongues words which represent images. As learning to speak reaches the point of mastery, we develop a sense that these words have definite meanings, at least for us. It is this feeling which convinces us that words are entities with sui generis meanings.


Of Music And Language

But the truth is that words don’t have meanings by themselves. That we can still make ourselves into speakers of languages, is all the more remarkable. While learning to speak our mother tongue, each of us must have confronted this fact. Each baby anywhere, must have known what there was to do and how to do it well, without any strain, and for good. Babies cope with this property of words — their arbitrariness — through the process of relating to the reality of energy they can relate to and know directly. Having done the job on themselves which puts them in contact with their own utterances which consist of the flow of sounds they can put out in the air, and knowing what characterizes each of their utterances because it has been willed, they educate their own hearing accordingly. This means, babies transfer to their involuntary auditory system that which they know to be at work in their voluntary phonation system. Equipped in this way, they begin to relate to the voices of the people around, and take note of the characteristics that are properties of energy which physicists have grasped and named: pitch, intensity, timber, harmonics. Knowing them directly as impacts of energy, babies let these impacts affect their ears. Thus, babies know persons around them by associating each with his or her unique voice. One’s own voice is known through the ear plus the bones of the head, plus the impacts of other energy manifestations such as one’s crying, one’s gurgling, one’s experiments with sounds and one’s emotions, in so far as emotions have also uttered components. Thus equipped, babies can notice the objective properties of other people’s utterances and come to the point of knowing physically exactly how voices are modulated by emotions. That is, they reach the reality of intonation, which is a human attribute in that it objectifies doubt, irritation, amazement, calm, resignation, commands, etc. Babies reach this reality by transcending linguistic elements which are retained singularly in every language.


2 The Arbitrariness Of Words

Besides intonation and the voice characteristics, there are energy components retained to produce the objectivity of the sounds of the language concerned: the way stresses are distributed in longer words and in groups of words, to form phrases in that language. Being in contact with the dynamics of energy in themselves, babies carry on their study of the language spoken around them, in terms of objectified energies. They make precise observations regarding the voices they study. Something which resembles tunes also exists in the flow of words modulated by the invisible meanings. This we can call the melody of a language. Babies have access to it and they let themselves be impacted by it. Because of its physical nature, the melody of a language is directly reachable beyond the screen of the words which cannot as yet trigger meanings in babies. The minds of babies don’t have to label attributes of languages which linguists distinguish for their own purposes, such as the tones, the syntactic and semantic forms. Babies have prepared themselves to be touched by these or other objectified forms of energy present in the flow of words, so that that which grammarians extract and classify, is met by babies spontaneously as reality of the language. This direct contact is much more helpful to them in learning a language than what they are taught at school: such and such a word is an adjective, or a verb, or a noun, etc. As more and more researchers adopt for the study of languages those criteria which are akin to the reality of languages, the day will come when the properties of spoken languages will be as objectively perceived and described to be properties of energy, as we have attempted to do here, in our study. In this brief discussion we have met, first, the arbitrariness of the lexicon of a language and seen how babies, with an acute sensitivity for it, come to a similar conclusion, though without intellectually formalizing it. We have also seen how the objectivity of energy, and of time, serves babies as the means of entering their environmental language and of mastering the components which over a few months of scrutiny, careful observation and examination, become the actual elements that are the fabric of the language.


Of Music And Language

On this fabric babies embroider the sets of words they manage to decode one by one, and slowly encode them in conformity with what others say. When the number of these words increases and the embroidery gains its physiognomy, the melodic fabric which integrates them and is already present in the babies, becomes more visible or tangible to outsiders who then conclude that such or such a child has learned to speak to such an extent. Words then drop their attribute of being associated with some meaning, of “having� a meaning, so to say.


3 The Awareness Of Melody In Language

Our intellectual minds often interfere with our serious study of the reality of language. Linguists, who are academics, are biased a priori, and their studies, however interesting, do not prepare them to approach seriously questions such as, “How does language acquisition take place?” They may be intrigued by such challenges but are rarely mobilized to meet them. Language acquisition by babies is that of “the mother tongue,” and by older newcomers to a given language, it is that of a “foreign language.” In the two cases, language acquisition is to be defined differently. The study of the first requires observation of babies in a sufficient number of homes for a sufficiently long time, to yield the evidence needed to speak in terms of facts of this acquisition. Only parents can claim to have had that much time with their own children (and possibly grandchildren and friends’ or neighbors’ children). Laboratory people occasionally say they watched “regularly” one child learning to speak . . . once a week for one or two hours! Of course, all of us can make certain observations about early childhood language acquisition which are true, such as: that babies do not speak the language of their environment until they are several months old, sometimes even two years old or older still. But we do not


Of Music And Language

extend ourselves to meet in this observation the fact that this is because words are arbitrary, and, that there are a number of components in the spoken speech which do not refer to vocabulary but are essentially temporal and energy components. This we went into, in the previous article. Occasionally someone mentions having observed a child who, for months, related to his or her mother by producing strings of sounds which did not contain a single word but which were linked to each other through a distinctive melody extracted from statements heard by this child. Such toddlers — even if they are rare — bring to our attention: 1

that the subtle task of extracting melody from statements heard, and of ignoring vocabulary, is not beyond small children;

2 that for them, like for singers (cf. previous article the two components of spoken speech: melody and words, are separable and separated; 3 that by concentrating upon the temporal and energy components (here referred to as melody) these children can use these components skillfully for their own aim of communication with one (or both) parent; 4 that the main reason for postponing learning to speak is the need to construct a melodic frame of reference which is objective and serves as the scaffolding for the complete spoken speech. Often parents tell stories about their one year old little one, who has the urge to harangue his or her imaginary audiences with lengthy “statements” containing “words” which bear hardly any resemblance to his or her environmental lexicon, but which are accurately articulated by him or her, as distributions of energy over time. Such delightful stories make it evident that small children have: 1

the awareness of sounds (created but not without links with those used around the baby);

2 the awareness of stress in words; 12

3 The Awareness Of Melody In Language

3 the awareness of blendings (called “phrasing� when taking place between words); and 4 the awareness of an overall melody, of which there seems to be more than one. The two observations mentioned above, while confirming the two basic components of human speech, highlight for us the fact that the melody of a language is the easiest for children to imbibe, and, that all of us make ourselves vulnerable to it first. When involved in learning our first language, we do not have any preconceptions. In our innocent wisdom, we do only what we can do. Thus we deliberately, and altogether, avoid doing that which might make the learning of our first language an impossible task. All children everywhere seem to have that wisdom, and so, all learn to speak their mother tongue as well as it is spoken by others in their environment. The conformity of the speech of children in a community to that of the others in it, makes a lot of sense when language acquisition is understood as melody first and vocabulary later. *** When we consider second language acquisition, the challenge is totally different. On the whole, students of a second language are no longer babies. They have developed intellectual habits in their schooling which do not seem to be very helpful, as is obvious from the number of those who try a new language and do not get very far in it. In fact, most learners of a new language go to some school where their teachers are generally selected because that language is their native tongue and because they are willing to teach through the curriculum and the materials their employers have adopted. Such students are no more the alert learners they were as bababies. They ahve preconceptions and adhere to them. They do not question the way they are taught and blame themselves for failing to learn the new language. They very often abandon their efforts which consumed their time and their money for nothing.


Of Music And Language

That this does not need to be so, has been proven again and again by sensitive teachers who begin (as is done in the Silent Way) with securing first a flow of words which resembles that of natives. The means used by these teachers, avoid all the usual intellectual solutions, such as, the alphabet or the international phonetic code. Instead, what is offered is a set of triggers which are colored rectangles. Each of these rectangles is required to trigger a definite sound. By stringing together a number of such rectangles with a pointer, a flow of sounds can be secured. The sets of sounds produced can be spoken words of the new language (immediately understandable to natives, though meaningless to the utterers). Students play the game of ‘sound production’. The game is being played well provided: each color triggers a specific sound; the strings of sounds correspond exactly to the string of the touched rectangles; each time the pointer has more force in it when it touches a vowel rectangle, more energy is present in the production of the corresponding sound; the order of the uttered strings is the one which corresponds to the strings of the touched rectangles; the blending of sound patterns (words) displays the speed of pointing; the students use their voice to produce some intonations when required. These rules of the game are ordinarily readily learned and the students seem at peace with only uttering sounds according to the rules, and not understanding what they say. This is so because the activity of sound production is meaningful to them in terms of their involvement with their own functioning as learners. It is exciting, too, for in this way they can reach “the baby” in them and find that they have the resources to address first the melody to the new language and integrate it in a manner which resembles what they did as babies. For many this reunion with themselves is a joy. A few adults, however, are unable to shake off their adherence to their preconception that languages are mainly vocabularies and grammar rules, and words have meanings of their own. For the sake of such students, a sensitive teacher needs to be also a creatively imaginative teacher. Those who play the game well, acquire a flow of words they can will and utter. This prepares them for the next stage of learning when a select vocabulary is introduced. Meaning is made accessible through direct perception of the meaning present in the given situations. Thus,


3 The Awareness Of Melody In Language

the first field of application of what has been acquired, is created as the stepping stone for further acquisition of language. In this way students come to master an essential component of the new language, one that belongs to all the statements that can be made and will be made. The mastery is reached with ease and confidence, mainly because all is clear to one’s awareness as far as the temporal and energy components of the flow of words of the new language are concerned. Thus it is possible to involve the newcomers to a language who are no longer babies, in learning a new language with the alertness and ease of babies. They can recapture their early powers through this game. Moreover, by making available the melody of the target language first — which they will need and use constantly from then on — we give them the strongest possible basis. *** It is clear that in these articles our preoccupation with music has been subservient to our preoccupation with language. We have said nothing about the learning and teaching of music per se. Our introductory remarks, no doubt, were intended to create a climate for language learning with the backdrop of music. We have focused on language and referred to music for what it can provide us as a help in the teaching and learning of languages.


4 Another Way Of Achieving A Good Flow Of Words

In the previous articles we kept in mind the connection of music, as a human creation, to language, another human creation. We noted the ways in which the properties of the first were related to some of the properties of the second. The link we have found, essentially pertains to the distribution of energy over time. This is a proper description of music as well as a component of the spoken language. In another of our researches in the field of language teaching — one which involves the computer and is concerned with providing, in a short time, literacy to speakers of a given language — we incidentally made an unsuspected discovery. We found that by working with our computer software for literacy, foreigners could attain a good flow of words in a very short time, even though no reference to the spoken language is available to them as it is to the natives for acquiring their written language. This meaning of literacy, namely, maintaining the fluency of spoken language while deciphering the written speech, is the one we have retained for our computer software series known as “Infused Reading.” The reason for us to mention Infused Reading in this issue of our Newsletter is its intrinsic quality which makes explicit the difference between being fully involved in a certain activity and its by-product which differs radically from the activity.


Of Music And Language

For a duration of time (from 30 minutes to 75 minutes), viewers — speakers or non-speakers of a language — in front of the computer monitor are asked to do certain things they can easily do, say, utter the sound they can. This, we call the activity. The activity in itself is meaningless to the non-speakers of that language as far as its contents are concerned, just as it is for those who play the game with the colored rectangles described earlier. And yet, for natives the by-product is literacy in their own language, for foreigners the by-product is an incredibly good flow of words in that language. The discovery that the by-product of an activity can be very different from the activity itself, came as a surprise. An understanding of it developed as we looked at what was happening to the people going through the activity itself, in terms of their physical and mental involvements. Music as such was not part of their work. I myself was not concerned with music when the idea of Infused Reading occurred to me as an elegant solution to the problem of illiteracy. In fact, originally Infused Reading was conceived as a possibility of reducing the cost of making large populations literate. This remained central, particularly because the savings were unbelievable: about 1/100,000 of what it costs today. The computer has made inescapable the acquisition of reading. In most of the thirteen languages processed so far, people can become literate in less than an hour. The process is spatial as distinct from temporal, which music requires. A text on the screen has been treated in two phases. Phase one concentrates on all the vowel sounds (and spellings) of the language. They are contained in the text. Phase two introduces, one at a time, the consonants. In the set of the vowels held on the screen, the consonants take their place one by one, and fill in the gaps until all are in, and the text is completed. The analytic approach to the vowels obscures the fact that it is a language we are aiming at: only “atoms of sounds” are met in the successive modules of the program. But since it is an easy exercise, most learners finish the job swiftly and well, in less than 1/4 of an hour when learning Spanish, and in about 1/2 hour when working on German. The synthetic work with the consonants is easier and shorter


4 Another Way Of Achieving A Good Flow Of Words

still, and has been found to be successfully done by almost all who engage in it. What this program brings forth is that all viewers tested so far (and there may have been more than a thousand of them) realize that they can utter separate vowels, as asked, because they do not experience any interference from any other system in them, apparently, does not get activated by these utterances. Since they practice these vowels many times in the unfolding of this program, they know exactly the amounts of energy they must put in their voice to articulate their utterances right. Thus, the sound-values are retained functionally. When syllables are formed with consonants, which get introduced subsequently, they are founded to be susceptible to being slightly altered under the influence of the vowels. And so, the utterances are those of the new language. It is the vocal system of the learners that knows somatically, not intellectually, what is asked of it, and, it produces the patterns of sounds of the new language with fluency. The first text does these jobs. The other attributes of speech: stresses, phrasings and melody are done by other modules of the computer programs. Phrasing, inaugurated by Infused Reading among all teachers of reading, is particularly well suited for the computer and is systematically used in all the four subsequent modules. Melody too, as the stringing of phrases at certain speeds, the computer presents very well. This way of obtaining a proper flow of words from foreigners is now understood by those who have worked with it, as being a very successful way of doing it. The energy carried by each vowel and each syllable of the new language, as exemplified in Text One, is an absolute which corresponds to what humans do spontaneously with each of them. Their voluntary sound production system obeys orders which the mind understands easily. The musical sense of every human does the rest, such as, handling the blending of strings of words held together by phrasing, and, the proper melodies of these phrases and of groups of phrases in that language.


Of Music And Language

Infused Reading — an economical proposal for the irradication of illiteracy — works so well because it allows the mind to relate to what is being perceived, through the processes of analyzing and synthesizing. Its success is attributable also to the fact that this computer program, though seemingly concerned with spatial arrangements, does take into account, and does count on, the musical sense of human beings. *** Our studies in this issue of the Newsletter make some specific new contributions to the pedagogical field. By presenting the facts about language learning and by bringing into focus the relation between language and music, we have opened up a new area of study which, we hope, will be attractive to a number of people. Perhaps, this will lead to some new research in their respective fields of interest. For example, besides understanding music in terms of time and energy, studies may be conducted in specialized forms of music, such as, opera or country popular songs, in which words play a role. Questions may be posed: “To what extent must music bend itself to accommodate narratives?” “Are there natural gulfs, insurmountable ones, which keep music and some language apart?” “Does this study help us understand better the nature of music and of language?” No doubt, themes for new investigations will spring up from the mere fact that these two areas of human endeavor are looked at simultaneously to discover their deeper connections and discrepancies.


5 Of Language And Memory

Music is retained somatically because it supplies its own energy and structures. Language, because of its arbitrariness, cannot be totally retained in that way. To retain language, a deliberate movement of the mind must mobilize the energies which make arbitrary words remain within reach and be utilizable when needed. This is the general intuition. To give it more body and precision, we need to look at the specifics of the process involved. Our mind can take as its target: a word; each part of it separately; in spoken or written form; separated from other words or connected with them; and in each case, we can do something with it. For example, the word “abracadabra,� if written, can be scanned as many times as one wants while asking at the same time questions one has about it, or which the word itself suggests. If the word is only sounded, it must be caught from the air, held in the mind with its specific sounds and its special order, and with a stress placed on the penultimate vowel in order to be English (or on the last, to be French) and, in a way which makes it acceptable as the equivalent of its written form, provided provision is made that some of the vowels vary in sound through they have been given the same shape. This additional knowledge distinguishes further the memory that is of a time from that of a bit of language, in this case, a word. Energy spent or mobilized by the speaker, is needed for: 1

each of the sounds,


Of Music And Language

2 their order, 3 the stress, and 4 the feeling that it is this word one utters, and no other. We gave a name to that mental energy: ogden, for no special reason, except that we wanted a name for it. Ogdens being energy, are regulated by the laws of energy. For instance, in the four points listed above, it is clear that ogdens are composite, and differ from each other. Just as there are any number of different quanta of energy but they are all called quanta, so also, there are all sorts of different ogdens, still called ogdens because they refer to the same activity of the mind. But this time ogdens are creations of the mind and each must be produced singularly and, therefore, may or may not be totally adequate for the task of retention; of con-formal retention. We do not feel ogdens separately. Once they have been produced, they are put into our psyche like all other memories. But we know them as discrete through the operation of our creating each of them in turn when that is proper and needed at a particular moment. Creation of those memory tracks called ogdens, may be associated with other memories of, say, events or situations, when the ogdens are required to be produced, for instance, in order for us to retain the name of a person we have just been introduced to, or an address of a shop which sells what we want to buy. But the mind knows exactly the quality difference between an ogden and a climate within us which triggers the images retained in the routine functioning of our memory. Once ogdens have been paid — as we say — the coagulated energy which corresponds to each is as much part of our overall memory as are other constructs which don’t necessarily refer to arbitrary realities. This is experienced every time we speak or write, every time we sing a song, by the spontaneous emergence in our consciousness of what is needed, without any element in them to distract us from the use of the memory for the purpose concerned.


5 Of Language And Memory

Still the phenomenon of forgetting, known by all of us, lets us know that in our memory the dynamics of emergence is not one and the same for images (having to do with feeling), and for words (having to do with the urge to comment). The component of somatic participation is greater in images and feelings. Also, it is more difficult to be absent from images and feelings than from words and the urges to comment. Our self, which directs all the activities of our lives, is capable of being present simultaneously, and in different ways, in any of its involvements. Some of these presences are telescoped in memory functionings, and, they serve the automatic provision of that which is an earlier experience, or those that are earlier masteries required by our present actual involvement in which awareness must be at work. An entry into these memory functionings is accessible to the self, and our self can single out that which is normally hidden in the automatisms. By closely examining the occasions on which we do not manage to recall something (when we say we forgot), we study the phenomenon of forgetting, and thus give ourselves the opportunities of knowing better what memory is and how it functions. Little of this has occupied mankind so far, only because the instruments of study were not yet produced or chiselled. It is becoming less difficult to entertain these challenges today since awareness has scored some spectacular successes in the study of the reality of man, and, the presence of the self in its own involvements is acknowledged to be a powerful and proper instrument for such studies. Language is a specially interesting challenge because of the numerous components our awareness has singled out in it. Although we still have much to discover about language beyond all the studies by philosophers, philologists and linguists offered to date, yet, there is a new hope in the field because its complexity is recognized, as is acknowledged the need for lightings which only awareness can provide. Awareness is becoming a prerequisite of progress in the field. Superficial approaches to language can only generate boredom and, with it, despair due to indifference on their part to understand language in its reality and its evolution in each individual life and in collective experimenting.


Of Music And Language

As language is more properly studied, so is our memory because of that. As memory is more properly understood, so are specific aspects of language. They belong to a single reality: the manifestations of the spiritual energy which the advent of man on earth has brought into existence and integrated into human evolution. The human spiritual energy takes all the forms of sensitivity and intelligence, thus, all the expressions of horizontal evolution which the religions, the arts, the sciences, the literatures display. The human spiritual energy is accessible today through any one of these, perceived as manifestations of human spirit. We could successfully use music — an instrument of the self — in our study of language, knowing that languages are complex sets of constructs which take centuries to develop, but knowing also that the musical sense of human beings is implicitly involved in the development of languages. It is obvious that language can be better understood through music. But, can one know music through language? The answer seems to be in the negative. The direct grasp of music (of a piece of music) does not occur by being in contact with the language that describes it. Music does not demand that it be understood verbally. Rather, it yields its secret in its being. Without a feel for music, and a definite, though unstructured, sense of its meanings already present in one, language that describes music, is of no use at all. Awareness of awareness changes every one of the approaches to human endeavors and manifestations. Awareness of awareness makes them comprehensible.


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1 In France A Weekend In Besancon On “The Source Of Our Creativity.” Sixty-six people were attracted to come and work for 20 hours on a subject which attracted them although they had no clue on how to tackle it. As in Bristol, it was the equivalence of being human and being creative which gave a handle to the subject and opened everyone’s eyes to the reality of that which had been considered a gift of the gods only, and one which most people were not granted. By taking again, as an instrument of study, a definition of creativity as — that which makes something to be, which was not — it became clear that the elaboration of our own soma in our mother’s womb is the first, though long, creative transformation of the given into the new and unique entity which can be born to last in any environment. By moving away from the social approval of the newness of what any one of us does, we created the opportunity to reexamine a large number of young children’s involvements, from the point of view of how these involvements end up being the skills we can use confidently. For instance, the question, “How do we give ourselves the skill of walking?” gave the seminar a chance to see the creative mind guided by a vigilant self working on subtle material in order to build stage by stage, in the here and now, the dynamic wholes which can become


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large automatisms available for several purposes and for future development. The participants were glad to abandon general and vague statements about creativity which were not very helpful, and to embark upon precise exercises which were capable of teaching how some changes of time into experience could leave behind something to contemplate, such as, works of art, though not necessarily produced by one person only. That all of us are creative of so much which loses its attribute of creation because all of us do it, led the participants to agree that to be human is to be creative and, to a certain extent, to be creative is to be human. What everyone present would do with this finding remained to be seen. The final feedback seemed to promise a lot. *** A Weekend In Paris On “La Lecture En Couleurs.” Fifty people came to work with Dr. Gattegno who was giving this course for teachers for the first time in Paris and ten years after one given in Lyon. The transcript of this course may turn out to be a new edition of the Teacher’s Guide first published in 1966. Among the participants were twelve trainees who work in a hospital in Paris with cases classified as non-readers, due to a number of “handicaps” of which “brain damage” is one. Under Carol Rose’s guidance, these trainees have managed to do what she does which looks like a miracle, i.e., make the patients read in as few as ten hours of clinic. In fact, the slant of the weekend was: “Let’s make reading make sense to those who can speak and are sighted.” For that, as we know, very little time is needed provided the instruments are available to a sensitive teacher who can see why they had been invented and which of the awarenesses are objectified in these instruments.


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The 16 Word Charts and a pointer were the first instruments to be shown, studied and used over the twelve hours of Friday and Saturday. Chart #1 occupied a good fraction of the time because once the composition and uses of Chart #1 are understood, the rest of the work becomes merely an extension of that on a systematic encounter with all the sounds and many spellings of French. Once enough practice was given with this set of charts, the 8 Fidel Charts were studied for meeting the challenges of spelling. The primers were introduced at some stage to show how the help of the color code is valid when black and white printed texts are in use. Stories were also presented to extend the students’ ability to reach beyond the primers. ***

2 A Week In Geneva During the week of seminars, one day was devoted to “motivation” for secondary school teachers; four evenings of five hour each, for training in the Silent Way for teachers of language at that same level. These were commissioned by the City of Geneva. The weekend was the annual event, a seminar open to all, this time on “What is my place?” The day on “motivation” was useful because it was possible to make a specific shift in the focus of attention. The teachers there had implicitly expected to learn how they could make their students feel motivated to mobilize themselves to deal with the present curriculum and its traditional presentation. Instead, Dr. Gattegno involved them in considering what they had to do (the teachers, that is) so that what is being taught meets the spontaneous needs of adolescents. Even if it seemed challenging to the teachers, it also seemed inspiring. Some of them would give it a try. The evening course for the Silent Way teachers, was varied and included examination of:



a video program for subordinating teaching to learning (with Hebrew as the language);

2 a look at a microcomputer program for literacy which can be used to let newcomers to a language acquire a good pronunciation in a very short time; 3 the classroom materials for English, concentrating on the numeration and the first word charts, the latter in conjunction with the colored rods used to generate unambiguous situations. Earlier, the Arabic language sound/color chart had been used to involve the participants in a spoken language before transferring that knowledge to reading and writing (Arabic). Several of the attributes of the Silent Way were brought home through these activities which seemed appealing to most of those present. The weekend seminar was concerned with a question almost everybody faces at a certain stage in life. The question we were concerned with, usually refers to the social setup, and the challenges get blurred because so much seems to depend on others and on chance. By looking at what each participant put into the question, it became possible to give more responsibility to the individuals for determining what their places were in broader setups, such as, the various communities one finds oneself in, or the world of the future which is descending on us. The practical slant we gave to our study, consisted in letting each participant find criteria for one’s place in life by realistically looking at one’s place in a number of situations one finds oneself in. As usual, because the study was based on the actual situations of people’s lives, it was possible to avoid remaining only on the abstract level. This gave everyone a chance to gain something of value. At the end, all knew with better clarity their actual places in the world. ***

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3 A Week In Italy For the third year running, Trento hosted Dr. Gattegno’s visit. This time four mornings of four hours each, were dedicated to a course in Spanish, and five seminar sessions on “Schools, Awareness and Evolution.” The seminar was sponsored by the municipality of Trento. The interest for the morning language classes was enhanced by the fact that Spanish seems so close to Italian, and, that there may be some problems in keeping those two languages really separated. So, instead of the tested approach in the case of languages which have little in common, this time the course started with forcing awareness of what can be presented as very different in the two languages, such as, the doubling of consonants in Italian, not allowed in Spanish; the requirements of a stress sign in Spanish which is not required generally in Italian, and a few other important discrepancies. Thus, this course was a true experiment in teaching. Every hour was bent towards a new end which was really custom tailored. Since most of the students were either veteran teachers of the Silent Way or people desiring to become adept in its use, the course served a second purpose besides proving the extreme efficiency of the Silent Way. The class worked well and the sixteen hours of the course yielded far beyond the expectations of anyone. *** The theme of the seminar had been chosen because it was expected that most participants would be the ones who had been present the previous two years. There were newcomers and it became necessary to work first on awareness and only then consider what was going on in the schools people worked in. Awareness remains a challenging topic since it is not currently part of people’s awareness. To make it into the primitive instrument of knowing, which it is, it was useful to look at the spontaneous learning of babies since everybody had been a baby but had lost contact with the


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state of being. For some, such an approach is very powerful and even alters their outlook on life, including how to meet the demands found in their own classrooms. But for others it is overwhelming, and they may not be able to see how to use this new approach to learning, in their professional life. Italians have cultural means of working on their problems which satisfy them, and they relate to new challenges through those means. For instance, evolution is rather an idea with a clear place in biology, but remains unnecessary to understand human problems, such as, the changes Italians must accept and adjust to because Italy is becoming integrated in Europe. Tensions from life at large forcing change on the one hand, and, on the other, cozy traditional outlooks no longer seeming fully effective, created a climate for passionate discussions. The discipline of study imposed in this seminar was welcomed slowly but when it was, people valued it. For some it was a revelation with a great future. The transcripts (in Italian) of the 1985 and 1986 seminars were available for purchase and many acquired them. *** Trento has been the location of a three-year experiment in teaching German the Silent Way, and some other languages. In December a mini congress was organized to show neighboring cities what had been done. Apparently much enthusiasm was manifested. ***

4 One Month In Israel, For A Gattegno Language School The project of establishing a network of language schools which approach teaching languages the Silent Way, has been under consideration for at least 15 years. The completion of the video program “English, the Silent Way� in 1977 had offered this project a


new opportunity but it never materialized beyond token examples in New York and some other places. New language schools are being set up, taking the project beyond the experimental stages. One such example has been at work since last fall in Israel, and another one is shaping up in France with more to come in 1988. Fusako Allard who directs the Silent Way experiment in Japan, agreed to be the expert to run intensive courses in Paris and Tel Aviv during last October and November. She is expected to return for follow-up courses in the Japanese language late this coming spring. Dr. Gattegno who had given two Arabic courses in Tel Aviv last June (reported in this Newsletter), returned in December to Tel Aviv and gave two courses in English (Levels 1 and 2), one in Arabic, and a 60-hour course of training for language teachers. These courses were organized, sponsored and financed by the newly formed Gattegno Language School in Tel Aviv. They must have been considered sucessful since about 160 people registered and paid fees comparable to those in New York. People asked for more courses, and soon. Thus, this first Gattegno Language School seems to be meeting a demand that is not satisfied by what is offered to date by other agencies. There is no need to summarize all those courses already presented to the readers of this Newsletter over a number of years. The common features are, 1

the remarkable pronunciation acquired in the first two hours in the target language, using the sound/color charts and the pointer;

2 the ease displayed in the reading of a new script by those who never saw it, due to the use of the color code; 3 the mastery of numeration in any one of the new languages in less than two hours; 4 the relaxed atmosphere in the class resulting from concentration on practicing the new words in the

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language being studied with meaning directly available from situations provided by the colored rods. As students, adults are not as easy to work with as are younger ones, because adults do not mobilize themselves at once to meet what is asked of them. But once they prove disciplined enough to prevent useless thoughts to distract them, they work very well. It is possible to explain to adults the benefits of disciplining themselves as the type of work in the Silent Way requires it. Still not all yield at once or even on time, to get the full benefits from their watchfulness. Spectacular instances presented themselves in all these courses and the news got around to people outside who were looking for approaches capable of improving the work done with their own institutions. More on this will appear in the next issue of this Newsletter. With this beginning of establishing a network of Gattegno Language Schools, we can, at the end of 1987, look forward to providing the world with an alternative to the present situation which is found so universally unsatisfactory. Until the Silent Way took its place in the field of language learning and teaching, and brought with it the application of the powerful instruments of the Science of Education, the results of hundreds of hours of attending courses in language schools were random while the merits were for the schools and the blames for the students. Now it is possible to state from the onset of a course that everyone will progress considerably provided everyone takes his or her responsibility just as the school and the teachers take theirs, though these are different. The Science of Education guarantees learning through the functional unfolding of a curriculum which is neither dictated by a blind tradition nor a bright idea. It is rather the result of a scrupulous study of language acquisition in one’s first language, and then in the new one. All the materials and techniques stand on their own merit and do not need to be justified on philosophic premises or a priori beliefs. It is a fact that anyone who at a very young age manages to master his or her L1, is equipped to learn any L2 if the approach makes sense every minute. This is what the Silent Way does. ***


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The Gattegno Language Schools will develop in the years to come as the way to provide, at the right price in terms of time and masteries, as many languages as students will need, to belong to a world society integrated economically. The political movement in Western Europe is towards having such an entity as early as 1992. If sixty hours of school work with the Silent Way suffice to give a better foundation in any language than 400 hours by other means, it will be possible to ensure to whomever wants it, the means of acquiring a new language every year. Such a choice has very rarely existed till now. For the public schools of the world, this translates itself into acquiring all the languages of the economic communities they belong to, leaving it to the states to provide the free and compulsory public education concerned with other subject matters. Immediate savings of time; deeper acquaintance with the languages studied; ease in speaking, reading and writing each language learned; a keenness to learn more in each language and to learn a larger number of languages — all are the elements which fascinated the more than one hundred and sixty participants that the Gattegno Language School of Israel attracted during November and December 1987.

Announcements In Besancon (France) a group of devoted educators have taken two initiatives readers may be pleased to learn about: 1

an international Newsletter is ready to go out to a large list of teachers (already compiled). Anyone interested in receiving it should inquire from: Une Ecole pour Demain 2 Rue de la Pelouse 2500 Besancon France and then fill out a questionnaire detailing personal interests and specifics of one’s position, so as to custom tailor future issues.


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2 a one-year teacher training course with University connection and therefore with some official sanction, will begin in early January, 1989. Not more than 20 people will be accepted to a complete course including an adequate practicum leading to a diploma in the Silent Way of teaching languages, the first ever to be offered so far by an institution of higher learning. Information can be obtained by writing to: Dr. Rosalyn Young 7 Rue de Belfort 25000 Besancon indicating background and interests. 3 By early March, 1988, two books by Dr. Gattegno will become available: •

a revised edition of “On Being Freer”;

a condensed edition of three books: ‘The Universe of Babies’, ‘Of Boys and Girls’, and ‘The Adolescent and his Will’ (two of these books have been out of print for a few years). The new title for this work is: “Know Your Children For What They Are — A Book For Parents.” __________

With the active assistance of the Trento-Rome group the German Silent Way charts (12 Word Charts, 2 Fidels and the Sound/Color Chart) were printed in Italy. A reprinting in the U.S. may be considered from the same films if there is a demand for them. In Italy only the numbers needed by the areas of Trento and Rome have been printed.    


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.

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