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Old 09-04-2002, 03:45 PM   #11
Dojo: Great Wave Aikido
Location: Alberta, Canada
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 543
Don J. Modesto (Don_Modesto) wrote:
2) It's an irascible Sourbonne-educated Egyptian named Caleb Gattegno. His stuff is pretty hard to get into. I'd recommend reading one of his cheerleaders, Earl Stevick. Both are available in my library, maybe yours, too. Failing that, there's interlibrary loan. Gattegno's stuff is "out of print" or "hard to find" at Amazon, though.
If there's anyone who doubts that teaching is an art form, A), they haven't taught for very long and B) they haven't heard of masters like Caleb Gattegno. No question; Gattegno's work is truly brilliant. I know very little of him other than by name and a general idea of his 'Silent Way' technique, but clearly, as Picasso was to painting and Mozart to music, so Caleb Gattegno to the art of teaching.

And therein lies a potential problem, I think. Actually, not a problem, more of a consideration: Teaching is an art, and like all arts, it is based around a solid knowledge and understanding of learned technique - the science of the art, so to speak. Like music, painting or dance, a student of the art must first learn the techniques that form the framework on which to hang the creativity and personal styling that we call 'art'.

To use an analogy; if I wanted to be a violin maestro like Itzhak Perlman, I'd first have to spend years - decades - learning the basic skills: scales, music theory, studying classical music and its composers, playing, playing, playing. Somewhere along the way, Art would creep in; at some recital or concert, or in the innumerable hours of practice, I would unconciously begin playing MY way. The music would be Mozart or Vivaldi, but it would by my rendition, my music; not someone else's. Therefore, I'd never achieve my goal of playing like the maestro Itzhak Perlman, instead, I'd ultimately learn to play like the maestro Dave - all that assuming I had the gift; the spark to be a musical master which, to my eternal regret, I don't.

Anyway, back to the concern: ( )

The Silent Way, and much of Gattegno's work is brilliant, but if one is to attempt teaching in such a fashion, in my opinion, one would be best served by learning the typical, accepted techniques first - the lesson plan and textbook. Once a teacher has progressed to the point where he realizes he's making art in the classroom (for lack of a better term), and is truly comfortable in that role, then he is free (I would almost say 'obligated') to explore the creative reaches of the art of teaching.

Wow, I'm waxing lyrical, aren't I?

Anyway, to refresh myself, I looked Gattegno up on the web, and was pleased to discover the following in a short bio:
Gattegno dismissed traditional teaching as being too concerned with filling memories rather than educating students'awareness, which, he declared, is the only thing in us that is educable.
Lol - it's nice to see that something I've always believed and kind of accept as common sense (and had the hardest time pounding into my Methods Of Instruction students, and fellow teachers, for that matter) is backed up by one of the best in the business. I'm not nearly as capable of explaining it as Gattegno (Hell, I'm not even in the same ballpark), but the basis for all my instruction has been conceptual rather than empirical; that is, instead of teaching a skill or fact directly, I teach the concepts governing that skill or fact. Then, once I do actually teach it (or more often, the students realize it for themselves), they have it understood, not merely memorized.

Anyway, thanks for reading this blather and Don: Thanks for referring to Gattegno and Stevick; fascinating study!


Last edited by DaveO : 09-05-2002 at 02:24 PM.

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