Thursday, April 1, 2021

SALT: Suggestive Accelerative Learning & Teaching

Photo: "Classroom" by Robert Baxter, used under Creative Commons License

Presented to the Club by Robert M. Henderson on Monday evening, January 30, 1984

Plain old table salt, our most common and most used seasoning. Salt, sodium chloride, or the other well-known salts such as potassium or magnesium chloride, have extensive use in industrial, commercial and food usage.

We have salt water in the great majority of the waters found her on planet Earth, salt lakes by the dozen, Salt Lake City, Salt, the fifth of the six cities of Judea. And then we get down to some of the esoteric uses of the word.

To salt a mine, for example, is to artificially enrich, more often than not to do so in a fraudulent manner.

“Old Salt” – immediately we think of the one seaman or skipper.

“Pour salt into the wound” – if done, literally, hurts like the dickens, and if figuratively, means making a bad situation worse.

“A salty remark – with the number of such remarks passed around in this illustrious group over the years, I need not say more.

And then there are Salt I and Salt II, the never fully implemented arms control agreements that certainly deserve some attention on our part today.

Such statements as “You’re the salt of the earth” reminds us that salt was rare and valued. Our word “salary” comes from the Latin word “salaria” — salt, which was used as compensation at one time. 

However, the S A L T that I wish to discuss with you tonight is Suggestive Accelerative Learning and Teaching. SALT. I believe that this SALT may become as valued as seasoning salt has been throughout the course of history.

Suggestive Accelerative Learning and Teaching is a technique that increases the rate of learning by a factor of somewhere between three and ten times normal. My initial interest in this matter was highly selfish. If we could teach our children three times as fast as we now do, we could teach the same amount of learning with one-third the number of teachers, one-third the number of facilities. In essence, the amount of expense I would need to pay for education, my own, my family’s, and my share of the taxes dedicated to schools and education, could be reduced by two-thirds or more. Just as a matter of reference, my out of pocket expenses for educating five children up through their Bachelor Degrees is in the neighborhood of $200,000. I roughly calculated that my taxes due to education expenses were well over $70,000 over the past 20 years. Together, these amount to $270,000. If I could have the same amount of learning for one-third that amount, I would have some $180,000 in my pocket. These numbers certainly are of sufficient magnitude to be of interest. We can only speculate what would happen if we did not reduce our education expense, but got children that were three times or ten times smarter for the same money. I, for one, do not particularly begrudge spending all those dollars for education, but, let there be no doubt in anyone’s mind, I would be greatly pleased if I had three times the results or, even better, ten times the results.

I am also interested in increasing my own learning ability. If the same ratios apply, I could learn a foreign language in 80 hours rather than 240 hours. If the factor is ten times, then I could learn this language in 24 hours. My investigation to date of these systems of expanded learning have convinced me that so-called normal learning capacity can be greatly accelerated. Maybe the best way to begin is to give you some of the history and development in this field.

My investigations indicated the present development of the techniques have come from a number of widely divergent sources. Interesting enough, they all stem, in some degree, from Yoga, Zen and other oriental (sic) techniques of body and mind control.

Yoga and Zen technically were expanded over the years, but it was not until this century and only in the early 1930s that new uses of mind and body control really came into being. In 1930, autogenics, the conscious control of involuntary body functions like heartbeat and metabolism, was developed by a German psychiatrist, Johannes H. Schultz, and used in Europe for treatment of stress diseases.

In Spain, Dr. Alfonso Caycedo developed sophrology, a combination of yoga and autogenics which is now commonly used in Europe.

In 1960, Dr. Raymond Abresol, a dentist and lover of sports, began to develop holistic sports training for amateurs, tennis players and skiers. In 1967, the Swiss Olympic ski coach began to use sophrology, and in 1968 the previously unexciting Swiss team took three medals in the Olympics in Grenoble, and in 1972, three new medals in Sapporo, Japan. When doctors tested the effect of sophrology on athletes, they reported that it improved precision of movement, economized energy expenditure and controlled posture.

The Iron Curtain countries used sophrology and autogenics long before the western European countries caught on to the idea. The Soviets discovered that brawn plus brain equals a winning combination. Due, in large part to the technique of mind determining athletic success, Russia won 47 gold medals in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal and a very small country, East Germany, won 40. The Soviet sport scientists believed that the average athlete realizes but half his performance ability if brain power isn’t used. When you teach the brain to command the body, all the organs and the emotions are materialized to work together in the most effective way. Three-way-training – the athlete, coach and mind trainer – are used in Russia today. The Russians have expanded its uses for ballet and music.

In 1972, Dr. A.G. Odessky, a psychiatrist, put together an everyday guide to master autogenics for all Russians. Odessky believes it can be used by everyone to perform at their best whether in sports, arts, chess of the professions. At the same time, he also used autogenics extensively in psychotherapy as a remedy for many phobias, neuroses and obsessions. The autogenics created by Dr. Odessky are useful in increasing capabilities in  many fields, but an added effect is the sense of well-being and enjoyment in the process of achieving. The image of success many of us remember is the triumphant poise of Vasily Alexayev hoisting 564 pounds of iron to gain the gold medal for Russia. For many years, a 500-pound lift was an impenetrable weight. Alexayev’s trainers used mind training and suggestion, telling Alexayev that he would lift his world record, 499.9 pounds. He did, and when they weight the bar, it showed him it really weighed 501.5 pounds. He made rapid strides then – up to the 564-pound mark. The secret of the Soviet training is to eliminate thought of past failures or mistakes and concentrate solely on the successful outcome.

American athletes began to look at the possibilities of mind training. Charles Tickner upset the Soviet defending champion in figure skating in 1976 using a mental program. Tickner relaxed himself every morning and repeated confidence building words for a few minutes before going out on the ice. Jack Nicklaus claims that his success came from practicing concentration and using visualization. He claims his shots are 50 percent mental picture, 40 percent set-up and 10 percent swing. He visualizes the ball where he wants it to end up. He then traces the ball on its trajectory even down to how it lands on the spot. Those of you who play golf, I am sure, have a place on a course where you seem to repeat the same error: put the ball in the water, hit a tree or land in a less desirable spot. Regardless of any correction you make, your imagination of previous shots wins out.

Autogenics is a means to the end for athletes by keeping motivation high, eliminating anxieties of fear of failure.

The Asians excel in acrobatics, aikido, Kung Fu and martial arts because of their combined total mind/body approach to sports. Recent pictures of life in China show the daily exercising of all Chinese in the graceful controlled movements that use both body and mind. In Stockbridge, our new tennis pro introduced warm-up exercises of yoga before teachings classes to children and adults.

Dr. Hannes Lindermann believed that autogenics helps athletes perform but can be equally important to promote the performance of business professionals and laborers by increasing one’s capacities and health. By health, he means more than the state of being where nothing is wrong but means the ability of have healthy, undamaging relationships with others and society. Business organizations in Germany like our Chamber of Commerce, run autogenic programs. German business people who have used it regularly report increased creativity, and decreased absenteeism, accidents and better health and interpersonal relationships. As with many inventions or innovations, it is always difficult to determine just who came up with the idea. But in the accelerated learning field, there is one man who appears to have made the biggest contribution. Dr. Girogi Lozanov, a Bulgarian psychiatrist, is the man. Dr. Lozanov began to study the nature of man and, as others, found that we only use a fraction of our brain power. Through is investigation of creative and intuitive areas of the mind, he speculated the average human could develop super memory and develop learning with ease. The deepest roots of his system lay in Raja Yoga, mental yoga, Zen and autogenics. Dr. Lozanov’s application was the innovative thing.

He uncovered some of the biological secrets that led to expanded potentials. His search convinced him that we already have supermemory, but that we cannot recall what we store away. We have a built-in natural tape recorder in our heads. Lozanov believed that every experience , sight, sound, smell, taste is registered in the brain even when we have consciously forgotten the experience. Lozanov also believes that the brain is recording information perceived intuitively and telepathically. Dr. Lozanov was most interested in human potential but what brought his concentration on supermemory was the numerous cases of over-pressed students near collapse who had developed tension diseases and neuroses. He realized that you could, through techniques from Raja Yoga, have painless surgery and painless childbirth. Why not painless learning? Suggestology treatments given to students suffering from exam anxiety improved memory and decreased tension. He also found, as he opened up the mind for supermemory and healing powers, that this seemed to free the mind for clairvoyance and telepathy, called psi information. Using his extensive background in yoga, sleep learning, Zen, autogenics, suggestopedia and parapsychology, he put together a new method of accelerated learning. The basic parameters of his system were quite simple and the results quite exciting. 

1. He knew that people learn faster when physically in a slowed-down state: that, as body rhythms slow, the mind becomes more effective. His approach was to reach this slowed down state in a fully conscious manner rather than in sleep or a trance.

2. He was well aware of the left side/right side brain technology. Simplistically, this concept theorizes that the left side of the brain has to do with the logical, rational and analytical thinking, and the right side has to do with intuition, creativity and imagination. His efforts were directed toward getting not only both sides of the brain working together but also the conscious and subconscious body actions all synchronized in simultaneously.

3. Music was a key ingredient in his technique, and music of a special type. He found that the 50 to 60 beat per minute Baroque music was ideally suited for this purpose. He used music to calm the body rather than hypnosis or sleep.

4. He started his classes with de-suggestion or self-image therapy. He believed that we are bombarded from birth with the idea that we are limited in learning ability and achievement. A good example is the simple use of chapters in school books suggesting that there is a limit to the assigned learning. He also believed that the teacher must create a positive, authoritative, supportive atmosphere. Rapport between teacher and student is important.

Lozanov’s accelerated learning process is quite different from our commonly used methods. Our present methods stem chiefly from John Dewey, who certainly was a great educator and has permanently left his mark in this world. Accelerated learning adds by taking away fear, self- blame and the self-image of limited capabilities. Accelerated learning taps the unused 90 percent of our brain power and has indeed proven three to ten times learning speed with high retention. An important side effect is the minimal stress on the students involved.

In the early 1960s, Lozanov publicly announced he could improve memory 50 percent. That, with his tension free learning system, a student – young, old, brilliant, learning-disabled, educated or uneducated – could earn a new language in a month and a year later show a high retention. In succeeding years, his system has been challenged many times, but his system, by 1972, had been adapted in all schools in Bulgaria. In 1970, after extensive publicity of the system, the Bulgarian government restricted Western visits to observe the system. If persons were allowed in, they were shown only half the process. Not even the staffs in the schools knew the whole program. Finally, in the late 1970s, Lozanov himself was restricted to the country and no longer is allowed to lecture in the Western world.

Gradually, parts of the method have come together and have begun to be used in North America. One reason it has taken so long is because of the misinformation arising from the Communists’ politics. The Communists didn’t want to aid and abet us in finding the exact method and we were purposely led into believing that the techniques could not be adapted in North America.

An example was the Canadian government desired to use suggestology as a solution for their bilingual problem. The Canadians sent people to explore the system in Bulgaria and obtained only portions of the method. The Canadian program failed miserably, and thinking they had tried the real suggestopedia, they cast it aside.

The three main psychological blocks to accelerated learning are:

1. The critical/logical block – Logical skepticism of the “it can work for others but never for me. I’ve never learned easily in my life.” Everyone has a learning “norm” suggested by society and experiences.

2. The intuitive/emotional block – Due to previous failures, a person may have an emotional low evaluation of his ability.

3. The ethical/moral block – Conditioning has long been prevalent that learning has to be hard and a bore. The “you don’t get something for nothing” idea.

Now I would submit to you tonight that if we, as a country, can overcome these psychological blocks to accelerated learning, and if we dedicate ourselves to refining, improving and implementing these programs, some very exciting results will be achieved.

Already some exciting things are happening. There are at least several hundred core units operating in the United States these deal with the commitment of students gifted, normal and learning-disabled, in fact.

My first exposure to super learning was through Ann, a friend and neighbor of my daughter in Arizona. Ann is now a teacher specialized in accelerated learning technique for training mentally retarded persons. The technique she uses was developed at UCLA. They found, by slowing down the pace of the presentation to longer intervals, low IQ children learned almost as effectively as their bright counterparts.

Introducing the program into the remedial reading class for the Huntley Hill Elementary Schools in De Kalb County, Georgia produced dramatic gains of almost a year’s reading ability in a few weeks. Eighty percent of the class of twenty students gained a year or more of reading ability in twelve weeks, a 4:1 speed-up.

In Spain, Dr. Espinosa led an accelerated learning program with learning-disabled youngsters with severe motor coordination. They were performing physical exercises with highly increased skill and their IQs soared after several months of body/mind training. Espinosa won an international gold medal in pediatrics for these achievements.

In the USA a Society for Suggestology Alternative Learning and Teaching – SALT for short – has been formed. One operates out of Des Moines, Iowa. They publish a regular newsletter.

Reports from teachers across the country published by SALT have established that the system has moved far beyond language training. For instance, Naval Weapons Systems, noted as being truly dull, a course was learned at double speed by students using accelerated learning at Iowa State University.

In Bloomsburg State College in Pennsylvania, a teacher began to used accelerated learning to teach science. In the first year, out of three semesters of students, 84.6 percent got A’s and in the second, 82.9 percent. His students learned scientific facts and remembered them – all without stress.

One Canadian experiment has reported excellent results. Domtaq Corporation used a program put together by two doctors experienced in accelerated learning they report more than doubled their employees speed in learning French.

It is my considered opinion that if we did indeed refine and improve the known existing accelerated learning technique program and used due diligence in the implementation thereof we would:

1. Highly motivate a vast majority of students to attain measurably higher educational levels. Gifted students would be freed up to advance as fast as they might want and would be given ample opportunity to broaden their education into other fields. Normal students would achieve much higher levels of education; the SAT scores would show a marked improvement. The learning-disabled students would have a much higher chance of becoming a viable person in society. And all of this will be done with much less stress upon the students. Boredom among students will be reduced along with delinquency.

2. From the teachers’ standpoint, there will be a greater joy in teaching as the mundane chore of the necessary rote learning will be done by recordings and assisted by computers.

3. From a taxpayer’s standpoint, a good share of the tax money spent for education will be directed toward improvement of the programs and techniques. In essence, the teaching effort in total will become more efficient.

4. A final embodiment will be a freeing up of mind power that will permit rapid and large progress in all fields of endeavor. I predict this progress will exceed our wildest expectations.

In closing, I would only say that you may take this presentation with a grain of salt, but I do hope that there is more than a little meat in it.

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