The Gattegno Effect:
100 Voices on One of History’s Greatest Educators
The Gattegno Effect: 100 Voices on One of History’s Greatest Educators
(Educational Solutions Worldwide, Inc., 375 pages)
Dr. Gattegno would have turned 100 years old this year. This tome features the submissions of 100 leading educators worldwide recounting their experiences of knowing and working with Dr. Gattegno. Through the voices of those who knew him and learned from him, a picture of a serious, dedicated, soft-spoken educator emerges. However, this is not a book about Caleb Gattegno, but one about the impact his life and teaching methods had on the hundreds of people who learned from him.
Each memoir submission represents a personal journey toward understanding and applying Dr. Gattegno’s teaching methods, which is based on the precept that “only awareness is educable in man.” The collective journey reveals to us “Dr. G,” a man who was considered as much a role model, philosopher, psychologist, scientist, inventor and author as he was a great teacher.
The collection of short memoirs is filled with praise for his method of teaching language — the “Silent Way.” Dr. Leslie Turpin writes, “As a shy young woman, I learned that purposeful silence could become the source of my strength as a teacher and not my liability — that silence could be my teaching voice.” Dr. Gattegno believed in the innate intelligence of his students, and knew that they could discover answers on their own, through exploration, experimentation and meditation on a subject.
Many of the memoirs reflect the writers’ frustration, and eventual appreciation, of being asked tough questions about their experiences and thoughts. Dr. Gattegno’s key tenet, The Subordination of Teaching to Learning, challenged the teachers to put away their pedagogy and instead pay attention to their students’ learning.
Yoko Yasuda, now a teacher in Tokyo, describes the discovery of Dr. Gattegno’s work as akin to looking for a box of matches and finding a volcano. Her search for improvement began as a young student in 1993. She was seeking the best ways and methods to teach Japanese to foreign students. In choosing The Silent Way, she got more than she bargained for: “I learned that learning is related to existence,” she recounts.
By the time of Gattegno’s death in 1988, his highly unique approaches and materials for teaching were being employed in more than 40 countries on six continents. His vast scientifically based inquiries had produced seminal books on the nature of learning itself. This collection of memoirs is a fitting tribute to his life and his methods, which are still resonating with the people who learned from him.#