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Quotes from our workshops and readings since January 2011



From our early readings:



  • "Grant them everything, but don't take anything for granted."
  • “I do not teach the alphabet because the alphabet is a lie,” (Caleb Gattegno)
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Shakti Gattegno during January Jumpstart 2 workshops:


  • I don't want to be kind to my students I want to be true.
  • Knowledge is a by product of the process or by-product of knowing.
  • The criteria of correction should be determined by the student.
  • Grant them everything but don't take anything for granted.
  • Perfection is a myth and mistakes are permissible.
  • Feel inspired by the approach and see where it takes you.
  • I prepare my lesson, before the lesson, during the lesson, and after the lesson.
  • Practice is essential for learning and drill dulls the mind.
  • Sometimes Caleb would say"THINK!" don't do it, and another time he would say "DON'T DO IT, THINK!"
  • Acknowledge that you don't know, YET!
  • When you learn to walk you fall down. Falling down is not a failure, it's part of learning.
  • (more from other readings) more Shakti


From other readings:



  • In those classes where the adult teacher alone has the privilege of using the mathematical vocabulary and the where the notation is handed out finished and complete, dictated by a teacher, children are in the situation of a foreigner who, by hearing a language, can understand some of it but never dares to use it because of the absence of a true awareness of what it required. To use it for personal ends, creatively and adequately, requires involvement in the situation to an xtent that only the individual can judge. (Madeleine Goutard)
  • I watched my tension and reduced it, because I observed how much energy I wasted being disappointed and could often stop appointing that certain efforts should follow my efforts.
  • I found again and again that each child had to teach me how to work with him. (Katherine Mitchell)
  • …the need to make my teaching into a highly sensitive and previse instrument, and instrument that responds with accuracy and restraint to the learning taking place, an instrument that puts into circulation those parts of the language which the learners cannot invent, and leaes to them the initiative of generating those aspects which they can generate on their own through transfer of learning. (Shakti Gattegno)
  • “…the changed attitude I have toward the feeling of starting from scratch whenever I being to teach again. This feeling used to throw me into a panic….Now I welcome this feeling as the one wihich will make me more vulnerable to the demands of each situation.” (Zulette Catir)
  • “‘Do things that free the students’ has changed, in my case, from being a slogan to a practical working guideline. I question myself: ‘Are the things done in the classroom, movements that make students more independent, or do I just do them for the sake of passing on knowledge?’” (Shiow-Ley Kuo)
  • “Preparing a lesson is hardly adequate; instead I prepare myself to meet the unknown by setting aside my preoccupation and entering each lesson calmly, alertly, and perhaps in good humor.” (Steve de Guilio)
  • “If I am to be on their side I must directly address the students, who, like everyone else, carry their past whin them, including some automatic reactions triggered by loaded associations and power to act in new ways. This calls for letting my actions be always directed by the reality of the other.” (Steve de Guilio)
  • Personally I find this constant presence of mind the most challenging aspect of my new task as a teacher. I know that a process of freeing oneself is required—freeing oneself from wanting success, from wanting students to get something, freeing oneself from seeing reality only from one’s point of view, freeing oneself from escaping the reality of the present situation.” (Cecilia Bertoli Perrault)
  • “I began to see that, when I asked myself what I was doing in solving mathematics problems, I was developing a tool to know myself as a mathematician.” (Steve Shuller)
  • Starting to work on ourselves is the beginning of changing our schools, the only beginning possible. Before we can free the students, we have to free the teachers.” (Steve Shuller)
  • Learners are invited to engage in games which make no unreasonable demands on memory, do not encourage guessing, and which free learners from their teachers (Michael J. Hollyfield in Gattegno memoir, found www.calebgattegno.org)
  • “I can be present in my awareness and aware of my presence, which tells me that the two are not the same. In both English and French, what we call "presence" is characterized by a certain focalisation which is not necessarily the case for awareness.
  • All the facts I know to be in myself are facts of awareness. I stop typing this text for a moment and move my awareness to the world around me and immediately I hear the cars in the street, some noises from round about. I begin typing again and, instead of focusing my attention on the content of my mind, I take it to the content of my ears. Immediately I hear the noise the keys make as they touch the bottom of the keyboard. I move my awareness inside and immediately find the taste of a banana I ate half an hour ago, the feeling of my feet on the floor, my sweater which is making me itch at a precise spot where it is touching my skin. Each of these tastes, these sensations, these noises, constitutes a fact of awareness, since I am aware of them.
  • In this description of my inner state, it would be artificial to try to distinguish questions from answers. I can, if I decide to do so, find a question each time: What is my ear hearing at this instant? and now? and now? and I am immediately aware of the answer. In fact the places to which my presence goes constitute both the question and the answer, simultaneously.” (Roslyn Young)


Roslyn Young (from Skype conversation 6/2/2011)



  • “The self is not a thing but more like a vibration.”
  • “What makes people bored it that they’ve seen it before and it has become automatic and you are not longer present to it.”
  • “Tuning out to the lesson means tuning in to something else.”
  • “The teacher’s job is to hold the students at the cutting eedge between what they know and what they don’t know….It’s not difficult with the right tools.”
  • “You can catch [children] the way you catch fish. [with questions].”
  • “You’ve heard the expression, ‘put yourself at the helm’—someone with a passion is at the helm. Presence is catching. If you are completely present to them, people respond…..Gattegno called it his pneumatic image: ‘you inspire me; I aspire to be like you.’”


Beth's notes from this conversation: (this PDF should open in browser window, but if not, here is the word document:

























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