Lozanov on learning “double plane” exploring the thoughts of one of the fathers of accelerated learning
Two chief impediments identified by both educational scholars and trainers of Human Resources to learning are inattention of the learners and passivity of the teacher/trainer. In the words of accomplished American Psychologist William James, W (1890), ‘the faculty of voluntarily bringing back a wandering attention over and over again is the very root of judgment, character and will…………….An education which should improve this faculty would be the education par excellence. ‘Wandering attention’ afflicts all learners in every walk of life, the student, and the executive, rich, poor, the bright, and the dull. It can in fact be summed up as the bane of education and many training programs. Perhaps tired with the instant fixes the western system has been unsuccessfully offering over a period, sensible educators and trainers have been revisiting the traditional wisdom. It is no exaggeration, if one were to say, that they are rediscovering the age-old quotes and techniques of Lozanov, the Bulgarian Psychiatrist turned educator, who redefined the methods of ‘educating’ as against ‘education’ out of which concepts like ‘Accelerated /super learning techniques’, ‘Multiple Intelligence Theory’ and numerous variations of them have been born.
In this article, we propose to deal with at a greater in detail one of the path-breaking techniques of Loznov through the method of learning ‘double plane’
2.0: The concept:
In a learning environment, Loznov stresses the importance of both suggestive and de-suggestive techniques (Lozanov, G, /www.vobs.at). According to him, suggestions are of two types, viz, the direct, and indirect. In a learning environment, the direct one focuses on the conscious process which one normally finds in the current educational system where the teaching takes place through the printed materials (e.g., textbooks) and oral instructions of the teacher. This has limited applicability because of the resistance of the learners arising out of the vulnerability from the set-up. The scope for learning through indirect suggestion is vast and this is what Lozanov terms as the ‘second or double plane’ of communication. In simple terms, it denotes the existence of a variety of communication factors, as voice, tone (intonation), body movements, the facial expressions, to mention a few of them, which are outside one’s conscious awareness. The other indirect effects which have a bearing on the indirect suggestions relate to the arrangement of the classroom by taking into account such factors as lighting, sound, and other decors. All the factors in the communication learning environment act as communicative stimuli at some level of non-specific mental activity which acts on the Para-conscious level. i.e. at the level of set up. The more a teacher/trainer can do to deliberately orchestrate the unconscious as well the conscious factors in a given environment, the greater the chances to ‘de-suggest’ to the learner which would enable him/her to come out of the conditioned and involuntary patterns of the ‘inner set up’ and open the access to the tapping of their mental reserves.
3.0: How barriers inhibit the learning process:
All human beings have built in themselves anti-suggestive barriers and the aim of Lozanov’s ‘double plane learning’ is to accelerate the learning process through the removal of such prior conditioning in them. The challenge lies in the enabling of the individuals to bypass the social norms and opens up to the development of the personality, as according to Lozanov himself, the human beings innately protect themselves with psychological barriers in the same way an organism protects itself from physiological barriers. They are reflected in the following ways:
An emotional anti-suggestive behaviour would reject any suggestive inputs that may produce a feeling of lack of confidence and or insecurity. This emanates from the set up in every individual.
A rational faculty anti-suggestive barrier through conscious critical thinking rejects suggestions which it perceives as unacceptable. The teacher/trainer faces an extraordinary difficulty in unmasking this due to the fact that it is disguised in the emotional barrier.
An ethical barrier is culture-sensitive in that it rejects any things which are not in conformity with one’s culture and as a result, the personality does not open.
Practical examples of the above are illustrated below:
Barriers to Suggestions The Reaction
Emotional I won’t carry out this act, though, I cannot really thanks for your asking, but I would rather not
Critical This is not possible by me, may be others can do that, but that does not mean I can do, please not ask me to do it.
Ethical It is not fair, that means being dishonest
4.0: The Application of the concept in a real setting:
The hallmark of his above technique is the realization that in order to overcome the barriers one has to comply with them. This may appear ironical and contrary to reality but a lack of understanding of this fundamental tenet as applied to accelerate learning technique in this context would nullify the effects of suggestions which would be doomed to failure negating the very objective of education or training.
Once this is understood, the teacher/ trainer is poised towards the accomplishment of their goals, as a positively suggestive authority can be used as a highly effective tool in the accomplishment of such goals provided it is used with care. The authority which Lozanov mentions has nothing to do with authoritarianism and is the ‘non-directive prestige’, through which the imparter of skills creates an atmosphere of confidence and innate desire to follow the set example. For this, the teacher/trainer should themselves be an embodiment of values and attitudes which they preach about. When there is a union in the many levels of communications of the teacher/trainer, they become believable, trustworthy in the eyes of the learners which make them to follow the path of their mentors.
The physical environment, the quality, sincerity and dedication of the teacher/trainer, imbibed with a ‘double-plane behavior’ with a demonstrated mastery in the usage of suggestive language ( be it may in intonation, facial and or body expressions) combined with music have been stipulated as essential conditions by Lozanov in the successful accomplishment of ‘double plane’ accelerated learning.
4.1: Role of Classical Arts:
In Lozanov’s scheme of things, ‘Classical Arts’ occupied a central role in the ‘double plane’ accelerated learning. This could be in the form of music or dance and in fact, he had adopted the terminology, ‘Adagio’ which in effect meant ‘ a sequence of well-controlled, graceful movements performed as a display of skill’.
According to Racle (1979) who reiterated his stand on music postulated ‘that fine arts being the highest form of suggestion, the arts must be integrated with teaching. According to Lozanov (1977, 1978) that peripheral perceptions exist in millions of different art forms and he had demonstrated their effectiveness in aiding the learning. He further postulated that when the learners listen to music or watch a performance, the impact gets directly into the subconscious mind. It is not just the music as pointed out earlier. In short, to him, all the Accelerated Learning teachers/trainers should think of themselves as artists in that their role is one of ‘orchestrating the learning environment’.
The beauty of Lozanov’s amazing contributions lies in the fact that his discoveries combine elements of pedagogy, psychology, and neurology. Translated in ordinary parlance, they mean activeness, meaningfulness, the classic arts, the simulation of both the cerebral hemispheres of the brain and the conscious as well as the unconscious working of the mind. It blends learners’ autonomy with the teacher/trainer’s authority. The fundamental to the learning process is the ‘human being’ and not the ‘contents’. It is an appropriate answer for the currently flawed learning methods in which the ‘text’ is stressed and not the ‘intelligences’ a learner possesses. It also makes the teacher/trainer an integral part of learning and makes the traffic a two-way process with an absolute ban on signs of ‘no entry’.
James, William, (1890): The Principles of Psychology, New York, Holt
Lozanov, G. (1977): The Bulgarian experience. The Journal of Suggestive-Accelerative Learning and Teaching, 2 (3&4), 85-95.
Lozanov, G. (1978): Suggestology and Outlines of Suggestopedia. New York, Gordon, and Breach Pub.
Lozanov, G. (1978): Suggestology and Suggestopedia: Theory and Practice: (Working document), Sophia, Bulgaria: United National Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization.
Lozanov, G. (1978): The Suggestological theory of communication and instruction. The Journal of the Society for Accelerative Learning and Teaching, 3 (1), 51
Lozanov, G. (1991: On some problems of the anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry of cerebral activities in the global-artistic approach in modern Suggestopedagogic training. The Journal of the Society for Accelerative Learning and Teaching, 16 (2), 101-107
Lozanov, G. Suggestopedia – Decongestive Teaching: Communicative Method on the Level of the Hidden Reserves of the Human Mind, online edition, (www.vobs.at/ludescher/pdf%20files/SUGGESTOPAEDIA%20-%20book.pdf), accessed on 5th Feb 10 (SUGGESTOPAEDIA – book – alternate copy)
Racle, G. L. (1979): Music, pedagogy, therapy, Suggestopedia. The Journal of the Society for Accelerative Learning and Teaching, 4 (3), 133-146.