Example 1: Psychology Students Learning Statistics

Laurie was asked whether he could use his new learning ideas to help a group of some twenty students who had failed their statistics exam. He firstly got them each to write down all the statistical terms they had heard of. Then he went round getting one new term from each student, and on until he had all the terms known to any student in the room. They were later given sets of small white cards each with one of the named statistical terms collected earlier. Working in separate pairs they talked each other through the repertory grid triad technique to elicit as many different personal constructs as they could. Again, with much personal embarrassment, and shared hilarity, he collected all the different personal constructs that existed among the group. Again on individual cards, these were distributed to every member of the group. Laurie then offered his group of some twenty-five statistical terms and some twenty-five statistical constructs and got the students to work in threes to produce an agreed repertory grid. The threes then came together in nines to discuss and if possible agree. Laurie then offered them his version.

Later without more lectures, but with time to discuss why they were learning statistics, the students sat another exam; and all passed with rather higher than usual results.

When asked to explain what he had done; and why Laurie explained that really having to think and explain ones ideas to each other, the students were being asked to question and understand exactly what their ‘statistics’ were for, about and why. Previously this group had tried to remember and reproduce what they were being told.

Example 2: St. Martins School of Art

Student’s attempting to appreciate each other’s values. In this example students were asked to bring in 8 to 10 examples certain forms of art object that particularly attracted them. Then working in pairs one of them were asked to lay out their pieces in a linear sequence (most to least) which they felt demonstrated on important property, in terms of their artistic values. Then without anything being said the other student was asked to layout their own pieces along-side but about nine inches. In such a way that illustrated that they had understood what the other had in mind. After time to take things (silently) in; the first student, with the permission of the second is silently invited to move the second student’s pieces so that they better illustrate what the first student had in mind.

When the St Martins’ staff asked the students what had been going on; the reports they received led to Laurie being invited to become an external examiner at the end of year exams.

Example 3: Geology Students Learning to Recognise Different Type of Rock Specimens

Using the same silent techniques geology students became significantly better at recognising their rocks. However since this particular example took place during some social studies periods; the Geology staff never could quite accept that silent playing about led to their student becoming significantly better at recognising rocks.