Arithon's Training

originally posted by R’is’n

First some background on where this comes from, and then I'll get onto the issue of the style of training Arithon had from his Grandfather.

I’m currently reading a book by Diane Larsen-Freeman, ‘Techniques and principles in language teaching’ she talks how teachers need to prevent themselves from doubting different ideas of teaching, often passed off as academic ‘intelligence’. She recommends teachers first believe in order to gain insight then measure worth through the experience of application. She then relates an experience she had, when she first heard about a method in English second and foreign language teaching called ‘The Silent Way’ formulated by Caleb Gattegno:


Gattegno said that a teacher should never praise a student, not even say ‘good’ or smile. ‘Wait a minute,’ I heard the voice in my head echoing, ‘Everyone knows that being a good teacher means giving positive feedback to students and being concerned about their affective side or their feelings. Besides, how will the students know when they are right if the teacher doesn’t tell them so?’

Later, though, I found myself thinking, ‘On the other hand, Gattegno, I can see why you are reluctant to give feedback. You have made me think about the power of silence. Without having the teacher to rely on, students have to assume responsibility for the work-just as you so often say, ‘only the learner can do the learning.’ I can see how this silence is in keeping your belief that the students must do without the overt approval of the teacher. They must concentrate on developing and then satisfying their own ‘inner criteria.’ Learning to listen to themselves is part of lessening their reliance on the teacher. The teacher will not always be there. Also, they will be encouraged to form criteria for correcting their own mistakes-for monitoring their own progress. I also see how you think that if the teacher makes a being deal out of students’ success, he implies that what the student is doing is out of the ordinary-and that the job of learning a language must be difficult. Also, I see that in your view students’ security is provided for by their just being accepted without regard for any linguistic successes or difficulties they might be having.

Education ideologies usually use grading and rewarding to motivate learning ’ but it seems to result in individuals who struggle to find the authentic motivations for doing things. Rather they come to rely on external factors like fear, pressure, authority, society etc’ because their authentic "inner criteria" is drowned out by years of conditioning from a praise and rewards based educational approach.

I'm fascinated by the notion that lack of any sort of feedback encourages individuals to fall back on themselves, motivate and measure themselves by an 'inner criteria'. Very like Arithon.

I also like the fact that it then undercuts the measures of achievement - that those who do more and better are somehow better - everyone is free to be themselves, to do as they see fit and as they are able. This is real freedom.