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I Went Looking for a Match

And Found a Volcano Yoko Yasuda When I first heard the phrases “the Silent Way” and “Gattegno Approach,” Dr. Gattegno had already passed away. I learned about Gattegno by listening to Fusako Allard and Dr. Roslyn Young talk about what he used to say. Because of their detailed insights, I felt I could draw his picture in my mind. These people who had worked with Dr. G made me believe that his Science of Education was a gift that had been passed down through generations. I met the Silent Way in 1993, in the middle of my 20s. The Center, which was literally the educational diffuser of the Silent Way and Gattegno Approach in Japan, held a workshop about teaching Japanese with the Silent Way. It is clear to me now that my life changed during this workshop. All of the topics we covered during Fusako’s workshop were very big “questions” related to universally human characteristics, and we couldn’t jump to any rapid conclusions. The workshop was for Japanese teacher-training, but the contents went far beyond language teaching, and were more interesting and exciting than expected. The questions were: What is learning? What am I made of? How have I been learning? And so on. Fusako said, “The world is full of unknown, and we know a very little part of it. Gattegno said we don’t tear down unknown to known.” For me, Dr. Gattegno’s theory was full of riddles and shocks. For example, the question about what I did in my sleep made me realize that I sleep for one third of my life because my sleep is on the same line as the system of a baby, who sleeps, and learns, so much. My way of looking at human beings was gradually and totally changed. I didn’t know, however, how


his theory was related to teaching languages. It was like my search for a box of matches had led me to a volcano. I learned that learning is related to existence. After that, according to some advice, I took a Silent Way English course taught by John Beary. I was surprised that the teacher kept really silent, yet we were all able to precisely pronounce English sounds as he tapped the color chart. I found that my “thinking” was a very small part of my capacity and that the ability of awareness was a greater power. I realized that I (as a human) have a lot of types of abilities besides thinking, and I can use them. This kind of learning takes place when the teacher considers not only their students’ language, but their existence too. There was an unforgettable incident during Mr. Beary’s workshop. I was supposed say a phrase with “at” in it. But the word never hit me. There was just the world of me and rods. I tried to say everything I saw, one by one. The teacher pointed his finger strongly at the end of the rod and in my mind there was just “the end.” And John forced me to say something. I was looking at the place he pointed. I gave up and just looked at the space between his finger and the end of the rods. Then suddenly “AT” hit me as if the word was visible! My prejudice that I need to memorize when and where English prepositions should be used was torn down. I came to know that each word has very precise contextual meaning. This still affects my teaching and learning. I attended these workshops as often as I could. The insights they gave me helped me to meet the challenges I encountered in my daily life. Especially during the five years I was learning with Dr. Roslyn

The Gattegno Effect (Black and White Version)  
The Gattegno Effect (Black and White Version)  

100 Voices on One of History's Greatest Educators