Dr. Leon James
The language of this essay has not been edited for gender biased language. I hope to do this soon. I believe its content is of interest today. Reviewers at the time called it "a seminal work." I hope so. Another point: the English is not native, and colleagues were criticaI of its 'off beat' quality, especially for a chapter in a book for language teachers!! In fact, I learned English at 16 in high school as a foreign language. It was my 11th language due to the the multilingual environment of Europe combined with migrating parents during and after the Second World War. The value of this piece, as I re-read it today a quarter of a century later, is the direction it explores in discourse and transcript analysis in the ethnomethodological mode. Others have done this since, yet the originality of this remains and may be of benefit to some.
You will note that I combine an ethnomethodological approach with a humanistic goal. I enter into the details of dialogue analysis to show that teaching is accomplished in the medium of dialog between teacher and student. The characteristics of this dialog therefore determine the effectiveness and benefit of the instructional exchange. Teachers need to know what happens in a dialog; they need to be aware of it, so they can engineer it for maximum effectiveness. I show that to teach is to have authentic transactions between teacher and pupil, and I show that all forms of dis-agreements are in-authentic and prevent learning. Teachers need to recognize when they are making incomaptible requests simultaneously, thus leading to the arousal of conflict or disagreement, and they need to recognize when students are requesting repairing transactions.
The medium in which formal education is transacted is the conversational mode: teacher talks to students and students talk to the teacher and to each other. Sure there are textbooks, instructional materials and machines, assignments, exams and tests, but these are tools the teacher uses in the school context in order to supplement and facilitate his teaching. It remains true, nevertheless, that the primary conception of teaching in mass educational systems is through teacher-student talk: the lecture, the demonstration, the explanation, the question-answer interchange, the inspiration, the admiration, the expression, the examination. To teach is to tell, to learn is to listen.
The concept of teaching as conversation is a truism, a platitude. We like to start from platitudes for two reasons. One is that, this way, we are sure that we are together when we start. How can you disagree about truisms? The second reason is that platitudes are truisms: they have been sufficiently validated by ordinary experience to serve as truisms. In practice, it is more accurate to say that platitudes are forgotten truisms. Think of some current platitudes that are being widely discussed today: God is Dead; Equal Opportunity and Justice For All; The Protection of Privacy and Individual Freedom; Know Thy Body, Know Thyself; To Love the Other, You Must Love Yourself; To Search Is Not to Find; The Whole is More Than the Sum of Its Parts; Particle is Wave, Wave is Particle; Good Implies Evil, and Evil Implies Good. We are certain you can extend this list or make up a new one. (Do it now, just for fun!)
The originator of a platitude (really: a truism, later to become a platitude) is a man of genius. He is a respected public figure, a well-known scientist, a much-read author. The observation his statement represents is so penetrating, the arguments he presents to support it are so convincing, its validity is so undeniable, that it comes to be accepted by others as, first, a marvelous discovery, and later, an unquestioned truism. At that point it becomes a fashionable topic of conversation and reaches the status of a platitude. When the original discovery has become a platitude, the truism which it embodies has been forgotten. No one remembers to read the original justifying account of the discovery. New initiates (e.g., students, perusers of textbooks and other critical, review, or summarizing books and articles) no longer have access to the primary validating justification. They never come to learn the truism, the marvelous truth; they can only report the platitude, rote fashion, without the validating experiential meaning that has made it worth learning in the first place.
What are the truisms embodied in the current platitudinous conceptions of teaching as conversation?
There are many aspects about talk (talking together, conversing) that we should remember in this analysis. Like the fact that talk (the use of language) is much more than communication. We once heard Paul Goodman make a statement of the following approximate form:
When I talk I don't think, not usually. I don't plan, I don't try to communicate, I don't try to transmit messages. Right now, as I'm talking to you, I haven't got a single thought in my head. I just talk. Humans are chattering monkeys. That's all.
We felt, at the time, an immense relief. He echoed beautifully and simply what we had been refusing to admit, that our work in psycholinguistics (the old kind) had remained sterile under an antiquated and false conception, the communication model of language, and the very simplicity of his statement, the direct corroboration of the truism it contained, liberated us right then and there, in the auditorium with bad acoustics, of the intellectual tyranny and poverty of the communication model of language. We recalled Austin's (1962) remarkable little book, How to Do Things with Words, and we immediately formed the concept, How to Do Things with Talk
Aha! Talking is doing things. It is to communicate. To greet. To flatter. To dissimulate. To attack. To caress. To stimulate. To inform. To express. To fill the time. To sniff out. To make ties. To break ties. To insult. To promise. To accuse. To deny. To defend. To gain status. To save face. To protect. We couldn't stop. Our minds were feverish. To cajole. To agree. To disagree. To manipulate. To convince. To reason. To report. To teach. Hey, wait a minute! TO TEACH! To teach is to talk! Teaching as conversation. We were off to a new start. A new psycholinguistics (later to be called "educational psycholinguistics"). And it had relevance to FL teaching. That part we worked out later, in the small hours of the morning.
Typical, ordinary, commonplace talk takes the form of face to face conversation. A conversation is not merely a verbal interchange (the behavioristic fallacy of reductionism) it is a transaction, it is doing something together. Berne, 1964; Goffman, 1972; Garfinkel, 1967; Sacks, 1971: these are people who have written about conversational transactions Wit]lOUt reducing the concept to verbal interaction. A transaction has prerequisites, an initiating proposal, a receiving response, a successful completion, a legitimization. Searle: Speech Acts (1969) are transactions. In order for A to successfully promise something to B, both A and B must know, prior to the initiation of the act of promising, what the rules for promising are. The prerequisites: A claims that he intends to do something and that it is within his power to do it (You can't promise someone to give him title to the Brooklyn Bridge!); B must know what it means "to promise" and must be able to recognize it when A does it (e.g., it refers to a future action; other factors may prevent A from carrying it out-a prerequisite children often forget about)-it is to be distinguished from other acts like "I may do it, if," or "I can do it, but . . ., " etc.).
A transaction, thus, needs the following conditions: (a) contextual prerequisites (e.g., a "promise" under threat is not the same as a promise freely given); (b) an initiating proposal (e.g., "I promise that . . . " "I undertake to . . . "); (c) a validating confirmation (e.g., "O. K., " "Thanks") .
Conversations consist of a set of transactions, sequentially performed in time and hierarchically organized. Let us give you an example of a short conversation to illustrate some of its organizational aspects.
1. A: (a) Oh, Hi, John. (b) What's up?
2. B: (a) Hi. (b) Mr. Hendrix hasn't come in today. We've got to make a decision on the Weatherweight proposal before the weekend. But I can't reach Hendrix. (c) Do you have any idea where he might be?
3. A: (a) Did you try the golf course?
4. B: (a) I tried all the reasonable l)laces. (b) No one has seen him. (c) Could you do me a favor?
5. A: (a) Yeah, sure.
6. B: (a) Drive over to his weekend place. There is no phone there, and he just might have decided to start an early weekend.
7.A:(a)Well, I can't leave the office until 4:30. (b)Board meeting in half-an-hour. (c) But I'll ask Nancy to do it. (d) She's the dependable one in the office. (e) She can leave right away.
8. B: (a) Thanks, friend. I appreciate it. (b) If we see this thing through successfully, both of us are in for a promotion.
9. A: (a) You mean that? Really?
10. B: (a) I have it from the horse's mouth. B.J. has a personal stake in this. I can promise you that.
11. A: (a) O.K. I know you've got long fingers. (b) I did spend an awful lot of time on the case. Now it's out of my hands. (c) Say, (d) how about dinner out with the girls tomorrow? (e) I promised Jane, and . . .
12. B: (a) Uh . . . (b) Real sorry. (c) Sylvy's parents are descending upon us this weekend. (d) How about next week at our place?
13. A: (a) Sure. (b) I know Jane will love to. (c) I'll check with you later about Hendrix. (d) I'd better go tell Nancy to leave.
14. B: (a) Thanks again. (b) She can phone me at the office. (c) I'll be staying till 7.
15. A: (a) O.K. Will do. (b) Chow.
16. B: (a) See you later. Nothing special. An ordinary conversation. What happened? A series of transactions were performed between A and B (refer to numbered sequence in conversation):
1. (a) Greets. (b) Asks for explanation.
2. (a) Greets. (b) Gives explanation. (c) Asks for suggestion.
3. (a) Gives suggestion.
4. (a) Rejects suggestion. (b) Gives explanation. (c) Makes a request.
5. (a) Grants request.
6. (a) Gives elaboration (of request).
7. (a) Denies request. (b) Gives justification. (c) Makes a promise. (d) Gives justification. (e) Gives elaboration.
8. (a) Expresses thanks. (b) Makes a promise.
9. (a) Dramatizes.
10. (a) Gives explanation.
11. (a) Dramatizes. (b) Gives elaboration. (c) Changes topic. (d) Makes invitation. (e) Initiates elaboration.
12. (a) Interrupts. (b) Rejects invitation. (c) Gives explanation. (d) Makes invitation.
13. (a) Accepts invitation. (b) Gives elaboration. (c) Changes topic. (d) Gives explanation.
14. (a) Expresses thanks. (b) Gives instruction. (c) Gives elaboration.
15. (a) Dramatizes. (b) Takes leave.
16. (a) Takes leave.
Thus, this short conversational episode is actually made up of 39 transactional acts of various sorts. The identification of transactions is a fairly straightforward analytic task. You'll get the hang of it after doing a few of your own. The labeling problem is not crucial at this stage. Pick whatever name you like for a transaction, although later a labeling strategy and rationale will become a practical necessity.
Before going on to a discussion of the organizational structure of this sample conversational episode, we'd like to point to some features of a few of the transactions identified.
Gives Explanation: (e.g., 2.(b), 4.(b), 10.(a), 12.(c), 13.(d).) How does the talker know (i) when, at which point in the conversation, he should give an explanation, and (ii) what the explanation should be: what pieces of information to select, what their logical (discourse) structure should be? The "should" in both instances relates to the requirement "in order for the other participant to be satisfied." Note that in 2.(b) the explanation given is in response to the request in l.(b). (Note in parenthesis that the explanation is delayed until after the greeting (2.(a))-a hierarchical requirement, see below). The content of the explanation is dictated by the joint and prior evaluation on the part of both participants of the problematic element in the setting. For instance, it is this joint, cooccurrent evaluation or definition of the situation that must account for how A knows that "Something is up" (2.(b)) and how B knows what A means, what kind of an explanation he is asking for, and what will satisfy him in terms of an answer. Without this concept of a prior joint cooccurrent evaluation of the problematic elements of the setting, A's question "What's up?" (I.(b)) would remain unanswerable, its meaning contextually indeterminate, obscure. The nontransactional communication model of information theory can only say that A encodes a question, that B decodes it, and leaves unanswered the central problem: how does B know what the message is, what A intended, since "What's up?" can have an indefinitely large number of meanings or situational referents.
The transactional model, because it is transactional,
(i.e., it takes two to tango), focuses on the need for accounting for how both
participants know the same thing, so that they can successfully transact. This prior
common knowledge pertains to the code book of the conversational ritual, the rules of talk
in a particular speech community, the transactional dialect. The nature of these rules
will be discussed later, but it might be helpful to see how they are generated. For
instance, the explanation in 4.(b) is an explanation given by B for the rejection (made in
4.(a)) of A 's suggestion (in 3.(a)). These relationships imply that there might be a
general conversational rule that is in some such form as the following: "If talker
rejects a suggestion just given, he must give an explanation as to why he has not accepted
it." In this case, A suggests that B call the golf course, just in case he hasn't
yet. (The syntactic form of the question in 3.(a) is but one of many possible ways that A
could make such a suggestion.) B rejects the suggestion in 4.(b) by implication (A needs
to know this kind of a rule as well; otherwise he won't be aware that his suggestion was
rejected). After rejecting A's suggestion, B then explains the reasonable grounds; to
dramatize: "Since no one has seen him, there is no use in your thinking of places for
me to call, especially the golf course, since that's a reasonable place to have called
right away.", etc.
We won't go into further details, but you may wish to pause here and work out similar solutions for the remaining transactions involving Gives explanation.
Gives Justification: (e.g., 7.(b), 7.(d)) How does a talker know when justification is necessary? In this particular case, A is justifying why it is that he can't leave the office until 4:30. Justification is called for inasmuch as B would expect A to cancel all his previous plans as an acknowledgment that B finds himself in an "emergency" situation and could count on A's help. If A wishes to retain the claim that his relationship to B is of the sort that B can count on A for help in an emergency, then a justification for his rejection of B's request (6.(a), 7.(a)) is needed. This kind of standing claim between conversationalists, and the expectations it implies, forms part of the background context, the setting of a conversational episode.
The problem of what constitutes the context, the setting of an utterance in a conversation has been discussed in the literature (e.g., Wilkinson, 1971) and is an area that needs immediate and intensive investigation. We can distinguish between the following kinds of transactional contextual features: sociological (i.e., the behavioral operative procedures that the transactional code specifies for conversational dyads in an institutional setting that assigns proper roles to participants-colleague, boss, secretary, stranger on the street, bartender, father, wife, older brother, son, etc.), subcultural (i.e., the culturally given definition of the physical setting, e.g., secretary talking to the boss in private in his office vs. secretary talking to the boss in the outer office during the annual Christmas Party), emotional (e.g., husband talking to wife at breakfast in a preoccupied mood on Monday morning vs. husband talking to wife during Sunday brunch), informational (the shared background knowledge of the conversational setting, the joint prior identification of the problematic elements in it, all that has gone on before, etc.), and inferential (the rational, logical, common-sensical-viz. practical-implications of what's going on, and the steps that need to be taken as attempted solutions).
Thus, in the particular example we are considering for the transaction Gives Justification (7.(b), 7.(d)), and the related question of when is justification needed, the account will have to consider the sociological features (A and B are executives, colleagues involved in a routine transaction), the subcultural features (it is early afternoon in the office on Friday and B is trying to get in touch with a colleague), the emotional features (B is in an emergency, A is rushing off to a Board meeting), the informational features (where Hendrix might be, who also can help locate him, what it would mean to the proposal if he couldn't be found, what A and B would ordinarily be doing at the time this particular conversation takes place, etc.), and inferential features (what it would mean for A to refuse to help B). The transactional code will specify how the conversationalist must behave within this lattice of features, and the participant's transactional competence will determine the level and quality of his actual clumsy, direct, tactful, clever, blunt, and so on. The transactional code allows for stylistic modulations, and because there are subcultural standards of propriety and excellence in being a"good" conversationalist, these personal characteristics will also form a part of what is to be included under the study of transactional competence (see Kochman (1969) and Mitchell-Kernan (1969) for interesting ethnographic descriptions of dramatization styles among Black ghetto residents).
The analysis of the sequence of transactions of this particular conversational episode has yielded the following list:
Asks for and Gives Explanation
Asks for, Gives and Rejects Suggestion
Makes, Grants and Denies Request
Makes, Accepts Invitation
It is clear, however, that these transactions are related to the conversational episode in a structural fashion, not linear. There is here the same nomothetic relationship between the overt sequence of transactions, as performed, and its underlying organizational structure as there is in linguistics between the surface phonetic shape of a sentence and its underlying syntactic and semantic structure. Deeper analysis will show that the aspects of the theory of transaction shares many of the organizational features of the Aspects of the Theory of Syntax (Chomsky, 1965). In particular, the grammar of a conversational episode has a surface level structural component (transaction) that can be expressed algebraically (or through a branching tree diagram), and a transformational component at the deep structure level that includes such processes as sequencing or ordering rules, and deletion and substitution rules. Some readily apparent features of these rules can be outlined as follows:
Sequencing Rules. Greeting and Leavetaking transactions must be placed at the beginning and the end of a conversational episode. Some transactions such as Expresses Thanks, Accepts Invitation, and Denies Request always appear after certain other transactions have occurred (here, respectively, Makes Promise, Makes Invitation, Makes Request). The transactions, Interrupts and Changes 7'opic, on the other hand, can occur anywhere. Asks for Suggestion, Makes Request, Gives Elaboration, Dramatizes, Gives Explanation, are transactions that can occur whenever a priority rule for some other transaction is not invoked. For instance, given the particular setting for our sample conversation, 12.(c), Gives Explanation, has a higher priority than 12.(d), Makes Invitation, immediately following 12.(b), Rejects Invitation. An example of an embedding rule has already been presented earlier in connection with the discussion of the subroutine in 6.(a), Gives Elaboration (viz. Gives Instruction-Gives Information . Gives Opinion. ).
Deletion rules. These allow for the elliptical character of commonplace ordinary conversations (see Garfinkel, 1967) and concern the interstitial structure of utterances, viz. what isn't there to be said, as opposed to what's actually being said. The nature of deletion rules within subsystems of the transactional code pertain to the conversational register.
Typically, the intimate face-to-face register contains a much higher usage of deletion rules than more formal registers, which is one reason why talk between intimates is often incomprehensible to observers. Contextual setting features, such as subcultural, informational, and inferential, determine the deletion rules that are allowable in a particular conversational "us" (we) (being a new creation larger, stronger, smarter than either A or B separately and existing as an entity cumulatively built upon and developed, retaining permanency over time).
We use "metanoid" in R. D. Laing's (1967) sense, a construction that is parallel to "paranoid" and means, literally, "to stand beside oneself," viz. to be a self-analytic observer. We borrow from Bales ( 1970) the concept of "self-analytic group" which refers to participant interactions whose topic is the ongoing interaction (hence, self-analytic). Here is a dramatized version of a sample authentic self-analytic transaction.
Al = Participant A's public identity.
A2 = Participant A's metanoid self.
Bl = Participant B's public identity.
B2 = Participant B's metanoid self.
AB = The new "Us."
(Assume that every utterance is overtly verbalized.)
Al: I undertake to interact with you in an authentic fashion. I hope it will work. I hope you'll agree too.
A2: 1 am excited and scared.
Bl: Me, too, I agree to interact with you in an authentic fashion. I accept your proposal. Don't be scared. I've done it before with someone, and it works.
Its "behavioral objective," is to liberate the teacher, to get him to develop a personal pedagogic model which will allow him freedom in his teaching, will help him be an inspiring teacher, and will promote his personal growth and sense of fulfillment. In a TE Workshop, the members commit themselves to participate in self-analytic authentic transactions. We shall attempt to describe this process, but first, we need to introduce the concept of the authentic conversational dyad.
An authentic dyadic conversation consists of five "participants" or "social witnesses":
1. Participant A's public identity.
2. Participant B's public identity.
3. Participant A's private identity acting as an observer (his "metanoid" self).
4. Participant B's private identity acting as an observer (his "metanoid" self).
5. The dyadic "us" (we) (being a new creation larger, stronger, smarter than either A or B separately and existing as an entity cumulatively built upon and developed, retaining permanency over time).
We use "metanoid" in R. D. Laing's (1967) sense, a construction that is parallel to "paranoid" and means, literally, "to stand beside oneself," viz. to be a self-analytic observer. We borrow from Bales ( 1970) the concept of "self-analytic group" which refers to participant interactions whose topic is the ongoing interaction (hence, self-analytic). Here is a dramatized version of a sample authentic self-analytic transaction.
Al = Participant A's public identity.
A2 = Participant A's metanoid self.
Bl = Participant B's public identity.
B2 = Participant B's metanoid self.
AB = The new "Us."
(Assume that every utterance is overtly verbalized.)
Al: I undertake to interact with you in an authentic fashion. I hope it will work. I hope you'll agree too.
A2: 1 am excited and scared.
B1: Me, too, I agree to interact with you in an authentic fashion. I accept your proposal. Don't be scared. I've done it before with someone, and it works.
B2: I'm filled with anticipations. I've got butterflies in
my stomach. I am wondering what it will be like with you.
AB: (said by spokesman B) 0We have taken the first step. We are departing together.
A1: Can you teach me how to do it? I am willing to be the pupil. I'll follow your instructions not knowing where you lead me. I trust you not to hurt me. I trust you to put my feelings above the task, above all else. I trust you to relinquish your role as teacher when I want to tell you something about me.
A2: I feel some hesitation, some ambivalence. It lessens when I tlunk about and am able to feel the "Us."
B1: I accept all your conditions. If by mistake, or lack of adequate competence, I violate any of these stipulations, I promise to repair it immediately, as soon as I become aware of it, or you point it out to me. I feel some anxiety about this. I am not completely confident. I detect your ambivalence. Your hesitation causes me to tense up.
AB: (said by spokesman A ) We are together now . We will watch out over A 's and B's feelings.
A1: I've seen you in the past attempt to manipulate people. How can I trust you completely?
B1: First, I've got to tell you about "authentic objective reporting." There are three rules you must follow: do not disagree; be objective, report all relevant feelings.
A1: How can I tell you what I think if I'm not allowed to disagree? Seems like that's not a very good rule.
B1: Disagreeing doesn't lead anywhere. It won't help you learn. You must never disagree.
B2: I'm getting uptight. I feel the tension in my body. I feel you are all tensed up. You act like you're ready to attack me.
A2: Yes, I feel uptight. I feel frustrated. I am angry at you. I feel like hitting you.
AB: (said by spokesman B) We are disagreeing. We are far apart from each other. Let's get back together again. We are performing a disagreeing transaction. I suggest we both back off. I have failed to legitimize your earlier comment about how you could trust me when you have seen me manipulate people. I'm sorry. I was being defensive and felt like you were attacking me. I switched topics and went on instead to tell you about rules. I see my mistake.
A 1: I'm glad you see that I feel better.
A2: I feel relief.
B2: I feel relief.
AB: (said by spokesman A) We have just moved closer again.
There is a warm glow around us.
B1: That's what authentic interactions do. They make you feel a glow.
A1: Ah! I see! I see! Yes, I feel the glow. Please, let's go on. Tell me about the rules. (Etc., etc.)
The dramatized conversation we have just presented represents one instructional unit in the SAOROGAT method of transactional engineering. SAOROGAT stands for "Self-Analytic Objective Reporting of OnGoing Authentic Transaction" and is the current approach used in TE Workshops. We shall now describe some of its features.
1. Each such instructional unit of interaction constitutes a learning step, a forward motion. A learning step is always accompanied by a feeling of relief, of a release of tension. It represents the attainment of an insight, a discovery. The teacher perceives this liberation reflex given off by the pupil and experiences a similar relief, a release from (instructional) tension. When it occurs, a feeling of warmth, a happy "glow" seems to encompass the two participants and prepares them for the next instructional unit, the next learning step in the forward motion, the next insight, the next relief, the next moment of liberation.
2. Successful completion of an increasing number of instructional units cumulatively facilitates the successful completion of the next instructional unit, so that the rate of authentic transactions increases in a geometric proportion. The rate of inauthentic transactions quickly decreases. At that point fast progress is made possible on the conceptual development of the problem, and the teacher can concentrate on the appropriate sequencing of the subject matter that is designed to bring about the specific behavinral objectives of the course (the DESOCS unit, see below). From time to time, and as needed, there is a reaffirmation of the authentic teaching contract (see below), viz, its voluntary and protective nature. The pupil never feels manipulated, alienated, dehumanized. He retains his freedom to learn.
3. The teaching-learning interaction-in the model that views teaching as conversation-is performed in the telling-listening transaction. Three types of learning are to be distinguished, these being related to ways of telling and ways of listening. First, we identify conceptual learning. This relates to a cognitive representation of the problem in the pupil's register (e.g., a geometric theorem to be demonstrated, a critical essay to be written, a research project to be assessed, an account of an historical event to be paraphrased, a pattern practice drill to be executed, etc.). Second, we identify experiential learning (Gendlin, 1967). This relates to an insight, a discovery, a reorganization of personal constructs, and is accompanied by a feeling of relief, release, liberation. Third, we identify instructional learning. This relates to a higher-order integration of conceptual and experiential learning and enables the individual to formulate a personal pedagogic model, a reporting competence, an ability to tell someone else what one knows, to teach by devising an instructional strategy individually tailored to the listener.
4. Ways of telling relate to the teacher's instructional strategy. Two aspects are to be considered in describing a particular teacher's pedagogic model: the nature of the developmental sequence of the conceptual statementwhich we call DESOCSand the personal reporting stylewhich we call dramatizations. DESOCS is taskoriented and includes selection of information to be presented, its sequencing and appropriate reporting register. Dramatizations are pupil-oriented and reflect the teacher's overall storage of information (his mental encyclopedia), what he can call upon in order to illustrate, give examples, recapitulate, summarize, paraphrase, put it in a story. The effectiveness of the teacher's pedagogic model (his instructional competence) will be a joint function of the validity of DESOCS (its authenticity) and the inspirational quality of his dramatizations (its inauthentic aspectshow mesmerizing and seductive he can be).
5. Ways of listening relate to the pupil's learning strategy. Two components are to be considered: attitudinal and performance factors. Listening attitude refers to the pupil's prior orientation toward the manner of his involvement in the listening process: the flattened state (a back-seat relaxed onlooker of the game; his emotional reactivity is low and he neither identifies nor empathizes with the players; it is a state of emotional asynchrony); the reactive state (a front-row excited observer of the game; he both identifies and empathizes with the players; he has emotional synchrony, but his reactions are private, not reported); the participantstate (being one of the players; in addition to emotional synchrony, he reports his reactions and his critical evaluations of the ongoing events). The successful performance of authentic transactions, i.e., transactional exchanges in which participants share awareness of what is going on, either publicly reported or tacitly understood, requires the participant state of listening attitude. Victimizing transactions occur in the flattened state. Manipulative transactions make use of the reactive state. Performance style refers to the pupil's attempts to develop a cognitive model of the task. A number of activities are involved: shooting style (as in, shooting a film) which refers to the areas he chooses to focus on, to manipulate, to assimilate, and the rate, in time, at which this is done; projecting style (as in, projecting a film) which refers to the information he selects to report, to talk about, to ask questions about, to tell; integrating style, which refers to how shooting and projecting are related to each other by the pupil in listening, by the teacher in telling. Integrating styles are either balanced or imbalanced. A balanced integrating style synchronizes rate of shooting and rate of projecting (the talker says what he means and means what he says). An imbalanced integrating style either has a higher shooting than projecting rate 0the talker doesn't say what he means) or the reverse (doesn't mean what he says).
6. Some important features of the teaching-learning process can now be stated. These will, at first, appear to be extremely involved. Part of the difficulty will be that you have not quite assimilated the meaning of the technical concepts. Don't give up after your first attempt. Go back a few pages and, as needed, re-read the elaborations we have given. Before proceeding further, be sure you understand the meaning we have given for the following expressions. These expressions are elements in a general pedagogic model, the model that we use to teach, to train teachers, to develop a personal pedagogic model that is appropriate for a particular teaching task, to conduct TE Workshops.
Personal pedagogic model
Authentic conversational dyad
SAOROGAT method: self-analytic objective reporting of ongoing authentic transactions
Learning step, forward motion
Liberation reflex, release of tension
Authentic teaching contract
Types of learning:
Ways of telling:
DESOCS: developmental sequence of the
conceptual statement validity of
Ways of listening:
the flattened state
the reactive state
the participant state
integrating style: balanced, imbalanced
If you're clear about what all the elements refer to,
you'll be able to follow the descriptive statements that come next. A teacher develops an
effective personal pedagogic model through the SAOROGAT method. In the TE Workshop the
authentic teaching contract insures that the participants will be engaged in authentic
conversational dyads, that they will experience the liberation reflex, that they will move
forward, step by step, through appropriate instructional units, that their reporting
competence will be developed. In short, the TE Workshop experientially duplicates for the
participant teachers precisely those processes that their pupils in their own classrooms
experience. The SAOROGAT method insures that the participants of the TE Workshop engage in
instructional learning about teaching and pedagogy. As they experience the learning
process, the TE Workshop leaders continually point to, reflect, the ongoing events. Their
teaching is deictic: Look! See?
Maintaining an authentic conversational dyad between teacher and pupil is essential for insuring the validity of a particular DESOCS strategy. Skill in dramatizations will promote inspirational quality. Jointly, they will promote the development of an effective pedagogic model that will permit the teacher to take into account learning styles: diagnosing blocks to forward motion due to ways of listening, making allowance for particular performance styles, promoting the participant state of listening attitude, promoting a balanced integrating performance style, in short, insuring effective instructional learning.
You now have a better picture of the transactional model of conversational interactions, and we can continue our analysis of "teaching as conversation." An interesting consequence of looking at this truism in a serious way is the reasonable and powerful hypothesis that the teaching-learning process can be investigatecl through a transactional analysis of the organization of ordinary talk. To our knowledge such a proposal has never been attempted (or, at any rate, is not generally known in the literature), and we label this enterprise "educational psycholinguistics."
Let us recapitulate some questions that came out of the previous analysis of an ordinary conversationquestions that are relevant to the teaching-learning process.
1. How does the talker know: (a) when, at which point in the conversation, is an explanation appropriate, and (b) what constitutes a satisfactory "explanation" (e.g., what pieces of inforrnation to select for reporting, what their logical (discourse) structure should be, when is it sufficient, etc.)?
2. How does the talker know when giving a "justification" is necessary, and what is its nature and sufficiency?
3. How does the talker know when making an "elaboration" is appropriate or necessary, and what the nature of it should be?
4. What are appropriate and effective styles of dramatization in talk?
In essence, we are dealing here with three types of very basic transactions in conversations (explaining, justifying, elaborating) and their style of execution (dramatization). In teaching as conversation, the teacher's personal pedagogic model specifies an initial formulation of the DESOCS that takes into account the conversational setting in the classroom and the logical organization of the topic (the subject matter). The SAOROGAT method of deictic telling (Look-See Method) insures adequate feedback for the continual reformulation of the DESOCS.
Explaining, justifying, elaborating represent steps in time at which the DESOCS is being reformulated. The effectiveness of the teaching-learning process is jointly determined by the teacher's reporting competence, his style of telling, and the pupil's listening competence, his style of learning. To illustrate this interaction process, we are going to present a brief analysis of a passage in Time Magazine. Recall that "conversation" broadly defined, includes the writing-reading transactions, and because the previous illustrations we have given involved face-to-face conversations, we shall now use the written medium. In this analysis, ways of telling or reporting are to be identified with ways of writing (conversational style, writing style) and ways of listening with ways of reading.
What is to be learned from a written passage is a joint function of the writer-teacher's reporting competence (the validity of his DESOCS and his style of execution) and the pupil's reading effectiveness. The DESOCS in the written medium does not have the same power as that in the face-to-face medium since it is, by necessity, frozen. There is only the initial formulation to guide the execution. The following passage appeared in the March 20, 1972 issue of Time, a special issue devoted to "The American Woman Today." (pp. 26-27).
"Second-Class. The New Feminism has touched off a debate that darkens the air with flying rolling pins and crockery. Even Psychology Today's relatively liberated readers are not exempt. Male letter writer: "As far as Women's Lib is concerned, I think they are all a bunch of lesbians, and I am a male chauvinist and proud of it." Female: "It's better to let them think they're king of the castle, lean and depend on them, and continue to control and manipulate them as we always have."
Activist Kate Millett's scorching Sexual Politics (TIME, August 31,1970) drew a frenetic reply in Norman Mailer's celebrated Na~per's article, "The Prisoner of Sex," which excoriated many of Millett's arguments but concluded in grudging capitulation: "Women must have their rights to a life which would allow them to look for a mate. And there would be no free search until they were liberated." Arthur Burns, chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, complained last month: "Now we have women marching in the streets! If only things would quiet down!" Washington Post Co. President Kay Graham left a recent party at the house of an old friend, Columnist Joseph Alsop, because her.host insisted upon keeping to the custom of segregating the ladies after dinner. Other social habits are in doubt. A card circulating in one Manhattan singles bar reads: IF YOU'RE GONNA SAY NO, SAY IT NOW BEFORE I SPEND ALL OF MY GODDAM MONEY ON YOU.
three steps: What are the relevant questions? What are the attempted answers and know facts? What are the proper conclusions to be drawn?; the stylistically sober expression of the claimed strategy: Let the facts speak for themselves; Let the obviousness of the implied conclusion remain unstated.
Note how the heading of the passage (Second-Class) anticipates the theme of the last paragraph: American women today are preoccupied with and conscious of their status as second-class citizens. Nowhere is a conclusion directly stated. That is the point of the passage, the instructional goal, and it is left up to the reader to induce it on the basis of the development of the passage.
The first two paragraphs represent the writers
attempt to justify the topic introduced by the first sentence: The New
Feminism has touched off a debate that darkens the air with flying rolling pins and
crockery. The style of dramatization with which the problem is introduced is
characteristic of Time writers: personalizing a large social issue by giving a metaphor
for it that brings it down to earth, to the commonplace happenings of a Hadassa Womens
Luncheon Meeting. The Girls are at it again, and, Well, Girls will be Girls.
Times dramatizations are at once folksy and paternalistic, the perspective of
the Johnsonian Ideal American Leader, Cautious yet Progressive, Steeped in Practical
Experience, Dependable and Predictable, Aware yet with a Knowing Diffidence for Fads and
The first two paragraphs thus represent the first
instructional step in the DESOCS: the girls are out fighting for their rights. The
justification of this conclusion is elaborated through the presentation of opinions by
appropriate spokesmen (an appeal to our respect for the views of Responsible
Leadership) who echo the anonymous statements of the little guy presented
first. Following the public statements an anecdote involving Respected
Figures is given whose force is to show (a) that social habits of a discriminatory nature
against women are commonplace, and (b) that a Respected Leader has taken a stand against
this discrimination, i.e., that the revolution has spread to high places. By way of
extension, this one episode points to Other social habits that are in doubt.
Finally, by way of clinching the bet, an example that has just the right amount of
humor and spice, is presented. A card circulating in one Manhattan
There are basically three levels of listening-reading. The first level represents textual behavior, what many educators refer to as "reading with meaning" or "reading with the proper intonation pattern that shows understanding." At this level, the "good" student will be able to repeat sections of the passage, paraphrase the topic, remember the "supporting" arguments and will answer correctly "objective" multiple-choice items based on the passage. In this case, he will be able to state that there are numerous commonplace social habits of a discriminatory nature against women and that various particular famous and establishment people are both practicing them and fighting them.
At the second level, the "excellent" discriminating reader-pupil will be able, in addition, to capture, report, and talk about the way in which the writer presents his thesis. This has been called "critical reading," and in this case, the pupil can make evaluative statements about Time's DESOCS strategy, in some such terms as we have presented thus far.
There is a third level of reading which goes beyond these two, which I shall call "instructional reading," a concept that relates to instructional learning and the SAOROGAT method (see above). In this case, "instructional reading" refers to a strategy of learning from the Time passage that goes beyond the writer's instructional strategy and focuses on his particular DESOCS strategy as an object of study in order to further our understanding of the topic of the DESOCS here, discrimination against women today.
The reader-observer at this third level has two sorts of data to analyze: (a) the arguments for the existence of male chauvinism marshalled by the writer, and (b) the writer's own potential prejudices, the sociocultural values he or she has internalized. A talker talking about male chauvinism, irrespective of the overt content of his arguments, represents one more situation where evidence for male chauvinism can be observed. Just as the writer can present observations, in the form of quoted statements, to argue for the existence of male chauvinism, in the same manner, the reader at the third level can make observations about the writer who quotes other's statements. In this case, the dramatization we have offered for the underlying meaning of the note on the alleged card circulating in the Manhattan singles bar clearly shows the insidious form that entrenched male chauvinism can take: the sexual form of dehumanization of women whereby the superior male (who buys the drinks) expects the girls to commit themselves to going to bed with the man, prior to a validating interaction which would leave her freedom to decide on the basis of that interaction. This form of male chauvinism is particularly pernicious because it puts the girl in a double bind: either she has to say No right away, in which case she doesn't get a chance to meet a prospective sexual partner, or she has to say Yes right away, in which case she might have to go to bed with someone she doesn't find sexually attractive.
The writer of the Time passage shows no awareness of the double bind and erroneously presents the anecdote as an argument for a doubtful social habit that is intended to show that women themselves continue to conspire in male chauvinistic practices, viz. by refusing to play the equality game, hence the necessity of circulating the alleged card. Rather than being the underdogs supporting women's equality rights, the men who circulate the card (and the Time writer who relates the anecdote) are instead perpetrating upon women a newer and more virulent form of male chauvinism. Having made this observation, the instructional reader knows more about male chauvinism than the "expert" Time writer himself.
A similar and additional observation can be made vis-a-vis the statement at the end of the third paragraph in the writer's evaluation of Toynbee's comments: "she had to become either a 'household drudge' or 'carry the intolerably heavy load of two simultaneous full-time jobs."' The writer's presentation of Toynbee's phrases as a juxtaposed either-or statement shows the underlying logic of his conception of women's roles or, at least, the conception expressed by Toynbee that he allows to stand unchallenged: once women have gained the right to choose between a career and remaining home, to exercise this right and remain at home amounts to being a "household drudge." The subtlety of the male chauvinism that underlies this logic is so fine that many women themselves fall prey to it: they are no longer free to act upon a preference and feel guilty to be "just a housewife" when they have been "lucky enough" to get a college education. The identification of the neutral "housewife role" with the loaded "household drudge" excludes the possibility of a free and equal choice for creativity and self-fulfillment as a "housewife" on the part of women with a college education. Both Toynbee and the Time writer offer evidence of deep felt male chauvinistic attitudes.
We shall mention one final point in this analysis. The last sentence of the fourth paragraph is a step in support of the argument that social, medical, and technological developments have come to liberate women from their earlier inferior status. "The Pill has relieved women of anxiety about unwanted pregnancies." At the first level of "textual" reading, the pupil will have stored this piece of information so that he could quote it as "one of the factors contributing to Women's Liberation." At the second level of "critical" reading, the pupil will have "assimilated" this fact to his prior knowledge of the topic, and he would be able to elaborate that "the Pill" was a liberating development inasmuch as it gave women sexual freedom to choose when and with whom they wished to go to bed. At the third level of "instructional" reading, the pupil-observer will recall that, in point of fact, the history of "the Pill" was anything but a medical success. The negative side effects for many women are so severe that it has placed women in another double bind: either they eliminate anxiety of unwanted pregnancies by taking the Pill, in which case they suffer debilitating and anxiety-provoking side effects, these new plagues representing a newer form of women's anxiety about sex, or they refuse to suffer this new form of anxiety about women and sex by refusing to take the Pill, in which case they are faced with the old anxiety of unwanted pregnancies. The writer's failure to note this new form of anxiety created by the Pill (Doctor, should I take it or not?) shows once again the error in his conceptual statement (the lack of validity in his DESOCS; his inauthenticity).
Written materials are particularly amenable to this kind of analysis, which is why we encourage TE Workshop members to tape-record and transcribe verbal exchanges in the classroom. By doing an instructional reading of the transcribed conversations they are involved with, they gain a deeper, fuller understanding of their reporting style and competence. But the classroom is by no means the only observation place for the teacher. Every conversation represents valid data for the teaching-learning process, because in every conversation the teacher-pupil roles continually alternate between participants, who take turns in telling (reporting, teaching) and listening (understanding, learning). The individual who sharpens his observational competence of ongoing transactions in the conversations in which he is a participant-observer is learning all the time. The ideal teacher is the perpetual student. Topical specializations (what is being observed; the subject matter being taught) are mere dramatizations, an esthetic expression of preference for certain practical consequences in the conduct of human affairs. Fundamentally, there is only one kind of learning, only one kind of teaching: the self-analytic accurate observation of our own selves.
Pedagogic Ambiguities and
Levels of Insight in the Instructional Register
Recall that we are viewing teaching as that aspect of conversation, of talk, that has to do with ways of telling something, and learning, as that aspect of talk that has to do with ways of listening. Recall, further, that the rules involving successfully telling something apply to both the face-to-face as well as the written modes of discourse. We wish to go into an elaboration of the factors that contribute to successfully telling something as well as the characteristics of listening that facilitate learning. The former relates to teaching strategies and pedagogic effectiveness, the latter to learning sets, modes, styles that facilitate or hinder learning. We shall proceed by presenting an analysis of the conceptual structure of an illustrative case of telling something.
The pedagogic problem in this example involves a talker's attempt to tell someone about a learning strategy that is designed to improve the listener's ability to study. Imagine that you are a teacher talking to a group of students on the topic of "Study habits and how to improve them," and you make the following statement:
Level 1. You have to learn to focus on the problem at hand, to concentrate on it, to eliminate extraneous distractions.
A transactional analysis of this statement indicates the following:
1. The theme being initiated is the transaction, Gives Instruction: You have to learn to X." This is a typical teaching-learning transaction.
2. The main topic of the transaction is "the acquisition of some skill."
3. The statement, as formulated, involves an embedded transaction, Gives Elaboration (of the main topic), which includes three subtopics:
(i) to focus on the problem at hand; (ii) to concentrate on it; (iii) to eliminate extraneous distractions. Note that each of these involves an additional Gives Instruction transaction: you are to focus, you are to concentrate, you are to eliminate distractions. The DESOCS plan of the statement thus has the following structure:
Theme of Transaction--Topic
Gives Instruction-- You have to learn x
Gives Elaboration-- x consists of to focus, to concentrate, to eliminate
Gives Instruction--Focus, Concentrate, Eliminate.
The legitimizing rationale of the DESOCS plan is that, if you complete the transactions as proposed, you'll find that you can study more efficiently. The effectiveness of the pedagogic strategy involved in this DESOCS is related to the ease with which the student can successfully perform the proposed transactions. To the extent that the proposed transactions are not clear to the student, i.e., contain ambiguities, the difficulty of complying will be enhanced. We shall refer to these as "pedagogic ambiguities of the instructional transactions proposed by the DESOCS." We shall investigate the number of such ambiguities as well as their generiticity (i.e., the abstractness level at which they occur). In general, the quality of the DESOCS will be a negative function of the number and generiticity of the pedagogic ambiguities that are allowed to remain in the particular formulation of the teacher's statement. We shall list these from the point of view of the listener (student) using the Method of Dramatization, already illustrated earlier:
1. In order for me to comply with your main instruction, viz., to learn this skill that is going to improve my study habits, I've got to know how to learn it, not just the fact that I must learn it. But you haven't told me that.
2. Not only do I not know how to learn that, but I don't even have a clear picture of what "that" is supposed to be. For instance, what exactly does it mean "to-focus," "to concentrate," "to eliminate"? How do I do these things?
3. Assuming I've been able to work out for myself your intended meaning of "to focus, etc.," and further, assuming that I've found strategies that allow me to practice "focusing, etc.," I still would like to know how such a skill will be to my advantage as I attempt to pursue my goals in life, to fulfill my potentialities. In other words, is my problem really that of improving my study habits, or is it something else, too, or something else altogether?
These pedagogic ambiguities are extremely severe. They occur at three levels of abstractness or depth: What do I have to learn? How do I learn it? How is it personally relevant to me? The quality of the controlling DESOCS is thus low. The level of learning it insures is the lowest, i.e., rote learning (see above). The student can memorize the statement and possibly could paraphrase it at a level that retains the ambiguities.
Let us attempt a reformulation of the original statement in such a way as to eliminate the ambiguities it contains:
Level 2. You have to get personally involved in the topic so that distractions won't occur. "Personal involvement" refers to getting into the problem and evidencing interest and perseverance. At this second level, some of the ambiguities left over at the first level are eliminated. For instance, instead of the obscure instruction, "eliminate distractions" (and "focus on the problem, " "concentrate"), the statement asserts that distractions won't occur if you get personally involved in the topic. Furthermore, what it means to "get personally involved" is specified in terms likely to be meaningful at the ordinary experiential level: "getting into the problem." Conceptually, "getting into the problem" is at the same level as "focus, concentrate on the problem," but experientially, it is more familiar, more authentic. The specific instruction is more likely to be effective because even students who have faulty study habits and are distractible are likely to have experienced in the past a feeling they would label as "I'm really getting into it," more so than "I can focus, concentrate on it" these being conceptual labels specified in a conversational style (register) characteristic of the "good student," the "school achiever," the teacher, the psychologist, the counselor. Furthermore, although an important pedagogic ambiguity remains in this second formulation of the statement. "How to do it," enough information is given the learner to at least be able to watch out for performance factors that will indicate to him whether or not he is on the right track as he goes about practicing the instruction as best he can.
To summarize, the statement at level 2 fails to adequately specify the strategy to be followed by the student in his attempt to comply with the specific instruction, but it is superior to the statement at level I in that (a) it steers the student into a direction at the experiential level ("getting into it") and (b) it provides criteria for recognizing when performance is successful (feeling interest, persevering).
Let us try a third formulation.
Level 3. When you get involved in the topic in an appropriate way, your performance improves. "Appropriate" has the sense of "that which is effective for your goal." "Goal" relates to the nature of your personal structure, your own conception of reality, what you want out of life. "Personal structures" vary in terms of specificity, efficiency, and esthetic quality. An ''efficient person" has practical methods for obtaining goals specified by an individual's personal structure. These "practical methods" include such things as "getting into the problem," "focusing or concentrating on the problem," "getting personally involved in the problem," and the like. Distractions do not occur frequently when these practical methods are successfully applied.
This formulation is superior to the other two because it is pedagogically responsive to all three levels of ambiguities left unspecified in the first formulation: What do I have to do? How do I do it? What is its personal relevance to me? To wit:
1. I have to learn practical methods for obtaining goals specified by my personal structure, my conception of reality, what I want out of life.
2. These practical methods will allow me to be more efficient in attaining the goals that I want.
3. Examples of such practical methods include "getting into the problem," "focusing," "concentrating," "getting personally involved," and possibly others. Of these, I recognize from my past experience "getting into it" and "being personally involved," and I infer that when I have these feelings, I am "focusing" or "concentrating" successfully, at which point distractions won't occur.
4. I also realize that the idea of "personal construct" is important, that it has something to do with life~oals, although you haven't told me what you mean by "specificity" and "esthetic quality." At this point further formulations of the statement are possible at still higher levels, but we won't go into them here. Note that the length of the statement in the illustrative case given here is correlated with its pedagogic effectiveness, but it is the character of its structure (the nature of its elaboration) rather than length per se that is related to effectiveness.
To illustrate this point, consider a more lengthy statement
at level 1:
Level 1. You have to learn to focus on the problem at hand, to concentrate, to eliminate distractions. "To focus" means to keep your mind free from irrelevant topics. "To concentrate" is to restrict your attention to a single aspect of the problem. "To eliminate distractions" is to keep topics that are extraneous to the problem at hand from interfering with your attention. The more you can focus on the problem, the better you're able to concentrate, the more you'll learn. Though this statement is several times longer than the original formulation at level I, it adds nothing to it, leaving the same pedagogic ambiguities at all three levels.
The concept of "level," as used here, refers to generiticity or centrality of the conceptual structure that controls a particular DESOCS formulation. In other terms, it refers to the level of the node in a linguistic tree hierarchy: the higher one goes in levels, the more abstract, the more generic, the more central is the conceptual element or component. Errors committed at more generic levels are more serious than lower level, surface components. Another way of looking at this is the level of insight afforded by an experiential learning step, a forward motion in a successful DESOCS. To illustrate this notion, consider the following dramatization of a meditation experience during which successive forward motion steps are attained, each step leading the learner to a higher level of insight.
Prelude: I am Iying on the bed and am overhearing my wife in the kitchen coaxing my three-year-old son to come to the dinner table. I am thinking that that's not a very good thing to do. I am annoyed. I feel like jumping up, running to the kitchen and telling her to stop doing that, since it will aggravate the "eating problem" we have been having with my son.
Level I Insight: Hold it! You'd better not do that. If you interfere with her now, she'll just get angry. Besides, the damage is already accomplished. He got the attention he wanted. Better wait for later, when she isn't busy, and discuss it with her then.
Prelude: I feel a relief. The tension I felt a moment ago is gone. I can relax now.
Level 2 Insight: Look what happens when you relax the reins! Your uptightness disappears when you give up the attempt to control a situation. You must remember that next time. Hang loose. You won't assume responsibility for what others do. Stop fighting with people all the time!
Prelude: I wonder why I do that? Why do I fight all the time? Why do I put my sail up in the winds created by other people? Why?
Level 3 Insight. Oh! Look! You're putting yourself down! It hurts. I feel the pain. I am knocking myself over the head for something that I do frequently. Maybe I shouldn't be so hard on myself. There. That feels better. It's not fair to be so self-critical. I'm only human.
Prelude:Yeah, that's true. O.K. But still, I should try to stop doing that because, even if it's not a "crime," I really don't like that sort of thing. I don't enjoy it. So, therefore, I should try to stop doing it. I should stop doing something I don't like.
Level 4 Insight: Reverse the problem! I should stop doing something I don't like versus I should stop disliking something I do. I haven't thought of that before. I don't usually think of the reverse possibility. Why do I dislike something that I do all the time? Maybe what's wrong is not what I'm doing, but rather the way I'm evaluating what I'm doing. Ah, that's relieving. It may be easier for me to stop disliking it than to stop doing it. Yeah.
Prelude: I'll have to think about this some more. Maybe I don't really dislike being controlling and fighting. Maybe that's my natural style. It suits me well. Maybe I'm just telling myself that I dislike it, when actually I like it, but I am operating on a value system that puts a negative connotation on fighting with people, controlling the situation, interfering. That's something I've been taught. It's a foreign system to me. It's alienating. Self-dehumanizing. I'll have to work on this later. Right now I'm so relaxed. I feel sleepy.
This kind of self-engineered experiential bootstrap operation can go on to still higher levels of insight, of self-discovery, of forward motion, of growth. In principle, there is no limit to the operation. We cannot develop here the notion of the controlling DESOCS that is responsible for producing the successive learning steps in such self-analysis, the nature of the pedagogic model for personal constructs, how they are formulated, how they are acquired. You will note however that, in this illustrative case, the strategy used by the underlying controlling DESOCS is fairly straightforward:
1. Check up: Where are you at now? What are you feeling? What are you thinking? How are you evaluating these?
2. Process behavioral implications: What would happen if you responded in this particular way? Will it bring about a desirable goal? Have you considered all the alternatives?
3. Check up: How do you feel about the various possible outcomes?
4. Choose the alternative that produces a feeling of relief. Elaborate its rationale. Examine the new implications about yourself.
5. Check up: How do you feel about the reformulation, the elaborated statement?
And so on.
We have considered thus far the characteristics of the DESOCS that generates an instructional statement of how to tell something to someone. The account is incomplete until this is related to how to listen to someone who is trying to tell you something. Just as there are DESOCS strategies for telling, there are DESOCS strategies for listening. An analysis of ways people listen reveals a number of such strategies. Consider, for instance, a member of an audience listening to a lecture. We can distinguish the following listening set or learning strategies:
1. I am listening in such a way as to be able to find out something of interest to me related to: (a) the topic; (b) the speaker; (c) the audience and their reactions to the speaker and his comments.
2. I am listening in such a way as to be able to find out information of type x about the announced topic.
3. I am listening in such a way as to be able to find out anything of interest.
4. I am listening in such a way as to be able to give the impression to others that I am the sort of person who: (a) is a member of the audience in that setting; or (b) understands that sort of topic; or (c) can perform certain types of transactions in that setting.
5. I am listening in such a way as to be able to evidence my previous conclusion that I am usually right and you're wrong now about (a) the validity or coherence of statements you are making, or (b) the appropriateness of the transactions you are attempting.
6. I am listening in such a way as to be able to accomplish each of these:
(a) to legitimize your statements;
(b) to comply with as many of your transactional requests (see below) as I can;
(c) to store the content of your statements in their original form;
(d) to observe and be aware of all my feelings in this situation;
(e) to reformulate your statements within my own conceptual system;
(f) to report my opinions and feelings, when appropriate.
The DESOCS that controls the last of these listening sets (6, a-f) is more powerful than the others and represents the minimal as well as adequate conditions for instructional learning to take place. Let us elaborate each of the subconditions involved.
6a: Legitimizing Transaction: for the listener to successfully legitimize a statement he must indicate to the talker that he heard and understood the statement. In ordinary conversational settings, listeners use a number of stylistically modulated variants to perform a legitimizing transaction: periodic but brief eye contacts; nods; expressions of assent, encouragement, reassurance: "Mmm Hmm . . . ," "Yes," "I see," "I'm hearing you," "Right on," "Yeah, Go Baby," "Go ahead," and so on. Legitimizing transactions can be minimal, adequate, or enthusiastic; these may further be either direct or indirect. Here is an example of an indirect enthusiastic legitimizing transaction given by B to A's statement:
A: Yes, I just finished reading his (Castaneda's) second
book (A Separate Reality).I found it extremely stimulating.
B: It's a mind blower!
B shows that he understood A's statement, but in addition indicates that he shares A's enthusiasm for the book. Though B's response does not directly state that he heard what A said (cf., "Oh, yes, you did? I see. I think so too"which would be an example of a direct adequate legitimizing transaction), nevertheless the indirectness of it does not leave any doubt whatsoever about the fact that he heard and understood A's statement. ~inimal legitimizing transactions (nodding, assenting verbally) are often ambiguous (Did you really hear me or are you merely being polite?) in which case they are inadequate and introduce elements of doubt in the smooth flow of the conversation.
6b. Complying Transactions:in ordinary conversations, a speaker may make several transactional requests simultaneously. Consider the following example:
A: Yes, I just finished reading his second book.
Isn't it an extremely stimulating book?
B1: Ah, did you? I read it too.
B2: Oh, did you? I thought it was terrific, too.
A makes two transactional requests: (a) can you legitimize my statement by indicating whether you heard and understood me, and (b) can you share my feeling that it was very stimulating.
B complies with request (a) but fails to comply with request (b). B2 complies with both requests. In principle, there is no limit to the number of such simultaneous requests that a talker may make in a single utterance.
1. A:(a) I don't know what'sa matter with me, (b) you know . . . (c) My parents are on my back all the time, (d) you know what I mean, (e) like I'm scared I won't make it through the day, (f) you know, like, uh, (g) I'm fed up!
2.B:(a) Hey, man, you're doin' okay. (b) Wheeew. (c)They're so freaky. (d) They're all like that, see. (e) I've been through this hell, like you, like the rest of us. (f) Bang. It freaks you out. (g) Like you wanna blow the whole deal. Keep cool. You'll make it.
This is an example of a smooth, synchronized transactional
exchange, the kind that is characteristic of good friends and close intimates. Note that B
is responsive to every one of the seven transactional requests A makes during his
"single talking turn"
a. A Requests sympathy.
b. A. Requests empathy.
c. A. Requests legitimization.
d. A. Requests empathy.
e. A. Requests support.
f. A. Requests empathy.
g. A. Requests legitimization, empathy, and support.
B. Gives encouragement.
B. Expresses pain.
B. Gives indirect enthusiastic legitimization.
B. Justifies his claim to being able to empathize.
B. Reassures by justifying his competence to help.
B. Dramatizes shared feeling.
B. Expresses shared feeling, acts reassuring, encourages.
We cannot go into additional details, but just in case you want to, here is a tip: notice how the levels of transactions are intermingled; for instance, in (e), A's statement is made up, at the surface level, of a Reports feeling tramaction. When you consider its transactional context (Requests sympathy, empathy), and the contextual setting (compliance takes the form of giving reassurance by implication: to have lived through the same stressful situat ion and survived proves not only that A can survive it too (a potentially reassuring realization), but further, that B is competent; given that he is a Friend and Eager-to-help, such demonstrated competence is reassuring. Notice, too, that the nature of one's responsiveness to transactional requests (what the listener chooses to respond to) is a common strategy conversationalists use to attempt to engineer certain special kinds of transactions that the participant favors: in this case, B complies with every one of A's requests. He plays the Being-a-Good-Friend-Game by the book, observing all the rules. He could have, instead, attempted Bluffing, Controlling, and Victimizing transactions by complying to legitimization and empathy requests but withholding compliance to sympathy and support requests.
6c., 6d., and 6e.. Learning Transactions: Practically effective listening strategies cover all three levels of learning: the ability to codify for reporting what the speaker said (rote learning; 6c.), what he himself feels about it (experiential learning; 6d.), and his worked-out integrated reformulations of the topic (instructional learning; 6e.).
6f. Reporting Transactions: Choice and timing of reports are crucially important decisions a conversationalist has to continually make. His competence within the three types of listening/learning, sets upper limits for the quality of the DESOCS that controls these decisions. The appropriateness of particular reporting transactions is a joint function of the transactional register that applies to a particular conversational setting (as selected by the transactional dialect in force) and the degree of practical transactional skill possessed by the participant in that setting (cf., How to Win Friends and Influence People).
To summarize this discussion on ways of listening, we can recapitulate by listing the three levels of listening sets:
I . Rote learning level:Listen to every word spoken. Do not stop to process implications at this time. Memorize as many as you can in their original form.
2. Experiential learning level:Listen to the meaning of the statements. Relate it to what you already know about this topic. Process its implications. Do not worry about what you're missing while you're doing this. Come back to the talker whenever you feel like it, or when and if you get stuck.
3. Instructional level:Listen to as many as you can of the facts and statements presented. Memorize as many as you can in their original form. Listen to the mesning of the statements and relate it to what you already know about this topic. Process its implications and evaluate their internal consistency. Reformulate the original statement taking into account the results of their previous processing and contextualize it. Rehearse the original formulation. Rehearse the reformulation.
4. Transactional level:Determine the point of the statement (Why is he saying this particular thing in this setting at this particular time?) and label the theme (Bluffing: he is trying to put one over on me; Making a Request: he is asking me to pay attention to him; he is asking me to agree with him; he is asking me to slap him down; Challenging:he is daring me to prove my point; etc.). Decide what you want to do about it (complying, legitimizing, invalidating, withholding, etc.). Initiate your response by whatever means the moment allows as specified by the transactional code. Observe his repartee.
Do you notice the close relationship between types of learning, discussed earlier, and ways of listening? Our model requires this in view of the identification of the learner as the listener in a conversational interaction. Let us present a dramatization that illustrates the contemporaneous multilevel processing necessary in an ordinary conversation.
1. A: (a) I think perhaps he deserves another chance. (b) He's had that job for 15 years. (c) I don't know if you're aware . . .
2. B: (a) Of course, I am. (b) It's happened too often. (c) He's fired, (d) and that's all there is to it.
3. A: (a) I don't think it's fair; (b) he couldn't help it.
4. B: (a) What do you mean?
5. A: (a)Well . . . (b)you know about his nervous breakdown last month, (c) right after his mother died . . .
6. B: (a) What?
7. A: (a) Uh, uh . . . (b) I thought you knew . . .
8. B: (a) The boss will hit the roof when he finds out. (b) Why the hell wasn't I told?
9. A: (a)Joe is responsible for absenteeism reports. (b)I didn't know you didn't know. (c) It's not recorded in the file?
10. B: (a) Obviously, there is no reason to change my decision. (b) He stays fired. (c) Good day.
11. A: (a) Right. (b) I'11 talk to Joe about this. It must be a clerical omission. I suppose I underestimated the seriousness of the situation. He'll be better off with a long rest. Harry can continue to fill in for him. He's done a very good job so far. Uh . . . Uh . . . The account has picked up since he's taken charge. The boss will be happily surprised; I know he was feeling pessimistic about that account in particular.
12. B: (a) I'm glad to hear that. (b) Tell Joe to reprimind the secretary who fouled up the file. I don't want it to happen again.
13. A: (a) Righto. (b) Good day.
An ordinary conversation. Nothing special. Very commonplace. Yet we hope you can appreciate the extraordinary refinement of the transactional rituals involved. The levels of inferential processes performed by the two participants attains a complexity that is of an uncommon heuristic interest, and to us, at least, is of a rare esthetic beauty, especially since it is so ordinary. Here is a curtailed analysis of it:
1. (a) Pleads on the other person's behalf. Note he's
appealing to two rules in the Transactional Codebook: 1. Don't make hasty judgments in
important decisions, and 11. Don't be harsh in the treatment of others.
(b) Strengthens his appeal to rule 11 by reminding him that, in this particular case, the strong form of it holds: 11. Don't be harsh in the treatment of others, but especially to those loyal to you.
(c) Baits him: You can change your position without having to lose face by claiming you weren't aware he was one of the loyal ones.
2. (a) Rejects the bait with a slap down: You are remiss in suggesting that I may not be totally competent.
(b) Presents a reinterpretation of A's original formulation: you implied that I may be being harsh to a loyal employee, but there is a higher rule that relates to the security of the company; when it is endangered, it is obligated to protect itself.
(c) Reiterates his previous decision.
(d) Emphasizes its firmness.
3. (a) Reiterates his previous claim.
(b) Baits him: there may be some considerations to the issue that you may have overlooked.
4. (a) Calls the bluff.
5. (a) Takes time out to process implications: did he call the bluff because he is attempting a counterbluffnot a bad move, or does he not know about the mental breakdown-which might spell trouble for me since he can then accuse me that I tried to hide it from him and that's a serious breach of the rule.
b) Presents information whose status is in doubt (Note: a more powerful DESOCS strategy would have postponed the presentation of this questionable information, or inhibited it altogether, and would have explored alternative routes: e.g., "Well... He was under great pressure."-capitulating without showing his hand.)
Attempts to minimize permanent damage due to irreparable deterioration: people often recover from such a blow.
6. (a) Delivers the coup de grace: now you are caught, at best, in possible negligence, at worst, in an irregular procedure.
7. (a) Takes the blow.
(b) Admits defeat. (Note: to insist further would be suicidal; a practical DESOCS must have markers for repairing activities when a vital spot is attacked or wounded.)
8. (a) Wields deadly weapon: know, you, that I'm playing for keeps. (b) Demands the spoils of the victor. (Note: alternatives are available in a powerful DESOCS: e.g., "Listen, I'll try to cover for you, but I can't promise anything"-more conciliatory; he doesn't want to antagonize him more than it's necessary, or "Let's hope he doesn't"-more friendly; I want him to retain his loyalty to me.)
9. (a) Prepares retreat. (b) Insures self-protection. (c) Buttresses his defense.
10. (a) Turns off attack (this is accomplished by relinquishing the pursuit of the defeated in retreat): I won't call your bluff involved in the claim that you didn't know it's not recorded in the files; I am allowing you to save face by not busting your claim. (b) Signals his victory. (c) Dismisses him.
11. (a) Acknowledges dismissal. (b) Engages in a number of repairing activities to reestablish their status as "in good standing" for further ordinary transaction in the future. (Note:this illustrates a particularly powerful DESOCS; note how he gives B an opportunity to reestablish cordial relations without making him appear too soft or lenient by claiming that his earlier intervention on behalf of the victim was not done at the sacrifice of the company's security.)
12. (a) Accepts offer: they are now back "in good standing." (b) Reasserts his authority by reminding him of his superior position (i.e., as one who has the right to give orders and act as a watchdog for the boss).
13. (a) Acknowledges B's claim to authority. (b) Takes leave.
In ordinary conversational transactions, teller and listener are alternating roles that an individual is called upon to take on. The quality of his transactional competence is a joint function of the strength of the DESOCS controlling his ways of telling and the strength of the DESOCS controlling his ways of listening. In this example, both participants evidence a high degree of such competence. Conversational situations in which all participants exhibit a high degree of transactional competence tend to be authentic; everyone knows exactly what's going on, all bluffs are recognized, there is a minimum of the bumpiness that characterizes less competent, more inauthentic, less productive conversational episodes.
Authenticity and the Teaching-Learning Process
The more choices you make, the more authentic is your life. The more you're aware about yourself, the more authentically you can (...) (pages 173 and 174 are missing--to be inserted)
observation: he is the only direct observer available for generating the empirical data on that topic; the other participants can only infer what the other's feelings might be; their subjective inferences do not have the same empirical status as the direct, objective, observation contributed by the reporter; (b) the ongoing transactions: seen as a process governed by a public transactional code that, when properly labeled, refers to what the participants are doing together seen from the perspective of one of the participants.
We are thus dealing with two topics of the reporting involved in this SAOROGAT rule: one's ongoing feelings and the ongoing transactions. The methods of adequate corroboration of the data within these two topics are different and must be understood. Corroboration of an observation dealing with one's ongoing feelings may be either direct or indirect. Direct sensual validation of another's feelings is possible through empathy: participants, in that case, must share, in common, a particular feeling, so that when A reports it, B can directly corroborate the observation by matching A's report. Indirect sensual validation is inferential and depends on B' inability to imagine, by recall or identification, what A's feeling is like, by "putting himself in A's position" and seeing what he would feel if he were there.
Corroboration of an observation dealing with the ongoing transactions is by consensual validation, a process that is always inferential, Consensual validation requires a common structural analysis of the topic: a common framework for transactional analysis, its components and syntax.
"Objective reporting" refers to a conversational register in which only factual statements are made which can be routinely corroborated by participants, either sensually (in the case of feelings) or consensually (in the case of transactions). When this condition is met, no disagreements are possible. The purpose of the reporting in this case is merely to point: Look-See, there goes another one. Its function is to guide the focus of attention, the locus of observation. The only legitimate response to an objective report is: "Yes, I see. Thank you."
When this condition is not met, the attempt to report objectively will have failed. Disagreements develop. Forward motion is blocked. Time is lost. Let us look at the nature of these disagreements and how they are to be dealt with when they occur.
When we succeed in telling you what we know about Disagreeing Transactions you will be able to corroborate consensually the statement that disagreements can never be authentic. It is impossible to successfully play the game of "Let us agree to disagree," only that of "Let us agree to pretend to disagree." The latter refers to faked disagreements. A participant may, for various personal reasons, choose to initiate a Disagreeing Transaction at a particular strategic point in a conversational episode (e.g., to attract attention, gain time, etc.). Both participants, A and B, may know that they are colluding, pretending that they don't see through the game, but neither of them may wish to
If A and B are transacting a genuine disagreement, neither of them recognizes that they are disagreeing; instead, they mislabel the disagreeing transaction, believing it to be something else; criticizing, hurting, resisting, bulldozing, being pig-headed, inconsistent, recalcitrant, persistent, and so on.
Disagreeing Transactions form a significant proportion of ordinary human transactions, although they vary in frequency according to the conversational context. In our observations of aU forms of teaching in mass education classrooms, the instructional register used contains a very high rate of disagreeing transactions. By the time students are in graduate school, they have had sixteen years of exclusive practice in that register, so we find in our own teaching that most of our time is spent attempting to diagnose and repair disagreeing transactions.
Disagreeing transactions block out experiential learning. They involve the participants in a sideways motion in which they persevere in a collusion whereby each of them tries to prevent the other from seeing what's going on: pulling the wool over the eyes, denying, invalidating, victimizing, conning, bluffing, trapping, giving a bum steer, and so on. Disagreeing transactions are thus participants' attempts at creating or maintaining inauthenticity in the interaction. They are conversational strategies made available by the transactional code which participants use to create inauthenticity, to maintain it, so as to hide from recognition some other transaction that is ongoing, simultaneously in time, at a different level.
Objective reporting is a strategy for counteracting
disagreeing transactions, for reinjecting authenticity into the interaction. Objective
reporting of feelings prevents the cover-up job, when, for instance, B reports a feeling
of distress at hearing A's statement, it is more difficult to continue to maintain that
they are merely "Exchanging Opinions" or "Having a Heart-to-Heart
Talk." When you publicly call the shots that hit you, it is more difficult to pretend
that the ongoing slugging match you're in is but a polite exchange: there is too much
noise and blood to account for. Similarly, the objective reporting of ongoing transactions
by the other participants makes it plain to all concerned that the cat is out of the bag,
and it becomes difficult to continue to pretend genuine ignorance.
Under what conditions do participants collude in disagreeing transactions? When they have a stake in maintaining inauthenticity, when they wish to cover up. Bluffing transactions are often used for manipulative purposes, and their success depends on dissimulation, on introjecting inauthenticity in the interaction. Parents often bluff and trick their children into believing some things or adopting some values in order to better control their present and future behavior. Teachers often bluff their students and trick them into learning a particular set of facts and principles (see Castaneda, 1969, 1970; and Watts, 1969).
In the instructional register, the DESOCS strategy is so designed as to get the student to adopt a set of premises which, through a learned process of ratiocination, leads him to adopt the objective of the DESOCS unit: the acceptance of a principle, theory, or evaluation. The pedagogic process depends on the teacher being able to manipulate the teacher-pupil transactions, to engineer them in such a way that the student comes to adopt a view held by the teacher and which the latter has chosen to transmit. By the very nature of the instructional transaction, the pupil cannot know all that the teacher knows about the topic, recognizes that fact, and enters into a collusion with the teacher so as to be manipulated by him. The teacher's status further insures the process by giving him powers of reward and punishment. This is the case for traditional, ordinary teaching. Inauthentic teaching.
Authentic teaching attempts to transcend the basic manipulative aspect of the instructional transaction. The teacher uses two pedagogic strategies in this: Transacting the Authentic Teaching Contract and Transacting Objective Reporting. The Authentic Teaching Contract is an agreement arrived at between teacher and pupil whereby the rights of the potential victim in the ensuing manipulative transaction are to be publicly and continuously reaffirmed. It entails a double responsibility: on the teacher's side, a responsibility to safeguard the best interests of the pupil and to engage in repairing activities should the pupil feel victimized; on the pupil's side, it entails the responsibility of attempting to remain authentic: to legitimize the teacher's statements by listening and to report all forms of reneging (failure to listen, engaging in bluffing, in disagreement). Objective Reporting insures, among other things, that the Contract is being publicly reaffirmed. We shall elaborate further on the notion of authentic teaching by considering next the following topics: Antidotes to Disagreements, the Teacher Paradox, and the Authentic Teacher's Profile.
Disagreeing Transactions are set up through the following means: withholding appropriate legitimization, attempting to victimize, and attempting to defend the self.
A. Legitimizing Transactions:
When an individual is a participant in a conversation, he is performing transactions. When a participant talks, he is engineering a transactional exchange in which he receives (i.e., appropriately responds to) and initiates a number of transactions simultaneously. The transactional code in force specifies the manner in which these transactions are to be properly performed (initiated and responded to). In any particular conversational episode, the successful completion of transactional exchanges depends on the extent to which the participants share a transactional dialect. The participants themselves originate the specific ongoing transactions. To our knowledge, there exists no systematic account of this process: why does a participant initiate a particular transaction, and is he aware of what he is doing? Transactional exchanges can be successful even though the participants involved may not be able to report that they have occurred and may not even be aware that they occurred either because of their routine (unnoticed) status (i.e., code governed) or because of their hidden nature (cf., defense mechanisms).
When a participant initiates a transaction (e.g., Requests Support) the intended receiver must either comply with the request or reject it appropriately. The transactional dialect in force specifies the rules for appropriate rejection.
Consider the following illustration:
contextual setting: husband requests support from wife at a dinner conversation during a bluffing exchange with a colleague:
husband: I don't think so, George. I know it was Thursday, not Wednesday, because Jane takes Joy to music practice on Thursday afternoons, and I was home babysitting on that afternoon. It couldn't have been Wednesday. Right, Jane?
Consider now the following alternative possibilities open to the wife in response to the husband's request:
(a) wife: That's right.
(b) wife: That's right. I remember that. Last Thursday I came home late, and you had set the table. Darling you.
(c) wife: Uh . . . uh.
(d) wife: Is it Thursdays or Wednesdays that I take Joy? I can never remember ....
(e) wife: No, you're wrong. It was Wednesday.
(f) wife: Actually, it usually is on Thursdays, but last week, Joy had a party to go to on Thursday, so I took her on Wednesday.
Independently of when the event in question actually occurred or the wife's own recollections of it, any one of the half dozen possibilities listed can occur. In (a) she is complying with the request in a minimal adequate fashion. In (b) she is elaborating upon this minimum which amounts to a stronger support. In (c) she fails to comply adequately and leaves a note of ambiguity. In (d) she elaborates upon her failure to comply which amounts to public recognition that she has thus failed. In (e), she not only publicly recognizes her failure to comply but, in addition, initiates a disagreeing transaction. In (f), she fails to comply, publicly recognizes it, but also, provides adequate justification for failure to complyhence does not constitute the initiation of a disagreeing transaction.
The transactional dialect in force specifies what constitutes adequate compliance and appropriate rejection of transactional requests. A distinction should be made between the public and the private transactional dialect. The public transactional dialect is described in the code book of transactional etiquette: participants' exchanges are jointly interpreted (cf., "bidding" rules in bridge). The private transactional register specifies the significance of an exchange on the basis of rules known only to a subgroup of the whole group. When two intimates converse with nonintimates, the significance of a transaction may be different at the private and public level. Sometimes, the demand characteristics of these two codes are incompatible, in which case a Double-entendre transaction is performed, but here, unlike the theatre, it is the audience (the other conversational participants) that is the party being kept in the dark. For instance, response (a), in the illustration above, may represent adequate compliance according to the public code, yet it may be deficient on the basis of the private code between husband and wife (cf., response (b)). Similarly, response (e) may be deficient according to the public transactional dialect in force among the participants around the dinner table (cf., response (f)which is adequate), yet it may be adequate according to their private transactional code which in fact contextualizes adequacy according to the topic at hand,-as in this case where the topic is not crucial (relative to this colleague), less justification is insisted upon as necessary (a convenient rule since it does not interrupt an activity the other spouse is involved in, e.g., flirting with the husband's colleague).
What constitutes minimal adequate compliance with transactional requests is what is involved in the problem of initiating legitimizing transactions. This problem faces the participant at every talking turn. It is an obligatory transaction and has only two outcomes: he either complies adequately (viz., he legitimizes), or he fails to do so. Which of these two events occurs has momentous implications for the ongoing transactions and the whole ensuing conversational episode. Conversation is a series of steps in brinkmanship: at any point, a talker may fail to comply with a legitimization request, and in that case the participants are no longer on a friendly basis; depending on the felt importance of the breach, victimizing transactions may ensue in which case the face of one or more participants may have been injured (sometimes with severe emotional consequences).
In the Nonvictimizing register of the transactional code,
legitimization requests may not be turned down without adequate justification. What
constitutes adequate justification lies at the bottom of instructional strategies designed
as antidotes to disagreements, as well as, more generally, the smoothness and efficiency
of the transactional flow in a conversation. Only a brief and incomplete sketch will be
Legitimization requests represent the fluid that oils the mechanism of the transactional machinery. During dry periods (e.g., after a series of victimizing exchanges) a request for legitimization is so serious that failure to comply disrupts the conversation to the point where participants quickly end it. Long before termination, however, many kinds of transactions become impossible to perform, among them the instructional transaction.
A common form of a legitimization request can be dramatized as "Did you hear me?" At the surface level, this legitimization request refers to the topic of the talker's statements and can be adequately complied with by paraphrasing the talker's remarks or by jumping that step and responding by a retort which implies that the remarks were understood. In cases where the retort leaves the status of the legitimization request ambiguous, the first speaker will point that out and try again (cf,, "I don't think I made my point clear. What I mean is . . . "). Nodding of the head is a frequently used legitimization response necessitating no interruption. It is ambiguous, however, and in instructional transactions, as every teacher knows, it is quite deficient.
A serious problematic element involving legitimization requests is the fact that they are often requests for the legitimization of a nonsurface, nontopical ongoing transaction. In terms of depth, husband makes three simultaneous requests in the previous illustration ("Right, Jane?"); from surface down: Requests Information, Requests Support, and Demands Loyalty. In her response, the wife can comply with the first request through all the alternatives listed, save (c). She can comply with the second request only through alternatives (a) and (b), and it is solely through alternative (b) that she can comply with the third request. If the private transactional dialect contextualizes this particular interaction such that the third request (Demands Loyalty) is a legitimization request, the wife must choose alternative (b), otherwise she will have failed to legitimize with possible serious consequences (e.g., being victimized by the husband after the guests have left).
In the instructional register, the public transactional dialect governing authentic teaching (i.e., where the Authentic Teaching Contract is in force; see above) attempts to insure that all legitimization requests on the part of the students are complied with by the teacher. Without attempting to be exhaustive, let us list some of the legitimization requests typically made by students with which it is important for the teacher to comply:
1. "Please, teacher, could we talk about x, not y": teacher responses that fail to comply, hence impede the learning process, include: "That's not a relevant point," or "You shouldn't be doing that," or "I'll come back to that later," or "I want you to do it this way, not that way," and so on, all of which serve to invalidate the student's right to choose topics in the instructional conversation. Students with higher learning competence are able to learn under conditions where the teacher disregards some of their legitimization requests, but not all.
2. "Please, teacher, could we engage in a Repairing Transaction before proceeding": whenever there has been a failure to comply with a legitimization request, participants can set things right by engaging in repairing activities: apologizing, reaffirming the speaking contract, making the lack of compliance the next topic of conversation and justifying it more adequately, etc. Teachers who are faced with "pigheadedness," "anger," "resistance," and "uncooperativeness" on the part of their pupils may be in that position as a result of failing to engage in adequate repairing activities after repeated lack of compliance with earlier legitimization requests (cf., task- vs. people-centered teaching).
3. "Please, teacher, could you stop requesting that I simultaneously comply with incompatible requests": a teacher may say "You must listen to me to understand this" while at the same time he inhibits feedback necessary to succeed in listening to him by lecturing or colluding with the students in their silence or inauthenticity.
In the SAOROGAT method, the encouragement to report objecthely the here-and-now of ongoing feelings and transactions minimizes the likelihood of Disagreeing, Victimizing, and Invalidating Transactions. In ordinary conversations, including the instructional register of inauthentic teaching, many syntactic and semantic devices are used to maintain inauthenticity and increase disagreeing and victimizing transactions. For instance, participants will say, "He is not a likeable person" when they mean, "I don't like him"; or, they will say "People would like to take a coffee break," or "It's time for a coffee break" when they mean, "I would like us to take a coffee break now." Collective pronouns such as "we," "they," "you" are used "impersonally" and inauthentically for "I," and the here-and-now events are displaced, in talk, to the past, the future, the general, the typical, When this inauthentic register is used, legitimization requests are more difficult to comply with and disagreements ensue more readily.
Consider the following illustrative cases and their analyses:
1. A: I like chocolate ice cream.
B: I don't.
B1: Oh, I don't.
Response B fails to legitimize A's comment in the absence of a clause in the private transactional dialect between A and B that frees B from the necessity of legitimizing within that topic. In that case, the "Oh" in Bl succeeds since B shows thereby evidence that he has acknowledged A's statement as Giving Information. In the absence of "Oh" (as in B), B initiates a Disagreeing Transaction by turning down without adequate justification A's request for Exchanging Information.
2. A: Isn't chocolate ice cream delicious? B: ?!-?!-
Here, A requests agreement and if B does not share A 's preference he cannot authentically legitimize (as in Bl ).
3. A: Marriage is restricting.
B: No, it is not.
B1: You think so?
B2: Do you mean, generally?
B3: Yes, it can be very trying.
Note that A's statement may be a displacement of "I feel marriage is restricting me." On the surface, this is a transaction of Giving Information (self is the topic). Simultaneously, however, there is another transaction initiated by A. This is given by the fact that an utterance in a conversation does not ordinarily stand by itself: it has transactional significance by virtue of the fact that any particular utterance is embedded in an ongoing matrix of transactions from which it derives its transactional significance. In this case, B might ask, What is the point of A's statement: why does he perform this particular transaction of Giving Information at this particular time? What is the transactional context? Are A and B currently in a Victimizing Transaction? Legitimization Transaction? Disagreeing Transaction? Instructional Transaction? Each decision will select the patterned features of the several transactions that this one utterance initiates.
"Marriage is restricting" is transformed into "I feel restricted by marriage," and the latter is transformed (by contextual selectors) into "I would like to vent my emotions on how I feel about marriage right now," which is a transactional request for sympathy and empathy. In that case, response B is inauthentic since it ignores the true request, while appearing to respond to the logical structure of the topic. In other words, A speaks impersonally while he means to be personal, and B responds impersonally ignoring A's personal request. B and A are exchanging a Disagreeing transaction while appearing to Exchange Opinions. Response Bl succeeds in accomplishing a number of transactional events: it furthers the conversational exchange without disagreeing by pointing in the direction of A's underlying intent; it is minimally legitimizing (cf., "Yeah, I know what you mean," which complies fully with A's request for empathy). Response B2 is an alternative way of providing minimal legitimization. We include it here to point out that minimally adequate legitimization responses in the instructional register may have different directional significance. In this case, response B2 is less directive, more ambiguous than Bl. it fails to counteract productively A's inauthentic impersonality. Response B3 is interesting because it matches A's impersonality in surface style while responding to A's personal request. This is an example of transactional smoothness between participants that share dialects: the surface transactional style (i.e., form of dramatization) and the underlying transactional exchange are jointly synchronized.
The teacher-student dyadic role contains an inherent inequality of status and power that is characteristic of many social role dyads (parent-child, boss-employee, doctor-patient, policeman-accused). Inequality of knowledge, power, and responsibility is a fruitful context for manipulative transactions. Some such manipulations fall in the "helping" category, others in the "victimizing" category, depending on social value definitions in force. Within the context of the classrooms of our current educational system, we can distinguish between manipulative transactions that are instructionally motivated and those that are personally motivated. The latter can be either victimizing or validating, both of which may be authentic or inauthentic, depending on the knowledge and awareness of the participants. Inauthentic victimizing transactions are frequent and personally damaging to participants (cf., "Student as nigger," "Teacher as enemy").
Authentic victimizing transactions often occur in the context of bilingual education where the Anglo teacher and the ethnic minority students are engaged in mutually victimizing transactions, both sides knowing just what is going on, and what the rules of the game are. Authentic validating transactions occur in the context of mature, competent learners helping the teacher present his instructional transaction at the authentic level. Given the public school context, a teacher interested in authentic teaching will be involved in inauthentic validating transactions. This is what creates the Teacher Paradox.
Given the inequality in knowledge between the participants of an instructional dyad, the teaching process is inherently manipulative. In the authentic teaching style, adequate safeguards are created to discourage the occurrence of victimizing transactions. Nevertheless, it remains true that, from the student's point of view, the mysteries of engineering instructional transactions remain beyond his awareness, and the exchange is perforce inauthentic. He submits himself to the inauthentic transactions in the hope that they will ultimately validate his request for a learning that is personally significant and useful.
In the meantime, during the laborious classroom hours, he is expected to abide by the rules of the instructional game: Listen! Do not interrupt! Do this exercise. Repeat after me. Answer this question. Correct your mistake. Consider this. Find the implication of that. Reverse the order. Paraphrase. And so on to a very large number of bumpy directives and restrictive imperatives. The student's compliance with these instructional requests is based on borrowed time. Sooner or later, depending on learner's competence in interaction with teacher's style, his goodwill (perseverance) runs out and the teacher is faced with learner resistance. How does he overcome it? Assuming he is not giving up when faced with that problem (e.g., continues to lecture or ends lecture), he must find a way to trick the recalcitrant learner. Excluded from the transactional register of authentic instruction are such inauthentic victimizing transactions as intimidating, duping, deceiving, brainwashing, corrupting. Perhaps some other types of inauthentic transactions might be less sanguinely victimizing yet equally effective manipulators: enticing, cajoling, bluffing, baiting, seducing. We were once asked, why not "convincing through rational exposition" or some such stylistic alternative in reference to the historic euphemism of the concept of "academic instruction."
From the ethnomethodological point of view, the same heuristic device accounts for the sequencing of operative procedures of practical interactions in any transactional context: the Instructional Game, the Scientific Research Game, the Salesman-Customer Game, the Parent-Child Game. Thus, whether we deal with the strategic moves of opponents in a televised political debate, or that of Mommy toilet-training Baby, or that of the alphabet cartoonists on Sesame Street, we are faced in every instance with the con artist's implements: the end place having been adjudged Good-for-Him by the teacher and whom he represents, he then proceeds to get the student there by whatever means allowed to him by the context: asking, pushing, pulling, cajoling, intimidating, bulldozing, seducing, convincing, persuading, and so on. Whichever it is, it remains the fact that the authentic teacher is faced with an obligatory choice between inauthentic instructional strategies. The Authentic Teacher's Paradox. Can it be transcended?
Transactional technology is an engineering problem. Intuitive and inadequately formulated descriptions of "the art of teaching" are transformed into the systematically precise register of educational psycholinguistics, of the transactional analysis of teaching. The charismatic inspirational performances of the Great Teacher are dissected into the components and subcomponents of ordinary transactional competence, the kind every ordinary teacher possesses, but may not ordinarily use. We give below a tentative semantic differential profile of the authentic teacher who struggles with adequate success in transcending the Teacher's Paradox. (See adjoining Table.) The halfway point between the defining opposite transactional labels separates the success from the failure zone of pedagogical endeavor. The successful teacher is capable of engineering classroom tramactions so that he consistently finds himself on the left-hand zone of the transactional profile.
Success Zone/Failure Zone
In his authentic teaching, he selects those inauthentic strategies that will validate the student's trust and will result in greater. awareness of the self in relation to the instructional topic. Teachers ought to remind themselves that the deliberate, manipulative, pedagogic use of authentic teaching strategies (as specified by the left-hand terms of the profile) is an inauthentic manipulative device and as long as they remain teachers vis-a-vis the students, they cannot engage in noninstructional authentic transactional exchanges. Attempts toward the latter are not realistically possible on a general scale in the present educational system given the current sociopolitical setting. In our opinion, however, the noninstructional authentic transactional mode of relationship is not essential for experiential or instructional learning to take place. Parental figures can be teachers, or peers, or both at different times. Restriction to the first of these, teacher mode only, ignores many essential components of personal growth of the student, but it does not thwart it per se; only a specialization is set up.
Encounter workshops have helped us become more aware of the transactional dances we perform. Self-analytic observations during our teaching attempts revealed the mechanism of the transactional code in the teaching-learning process. Our teaching performance changed in accordance with this developing personal pedagogic model.
Austin, J. L. How To Do Things With Words.(1955 Lectures, ed. by J. O. Urmson). New York: Oxford University Press, 1965.
Bales, R.F., Personality and Interpersonal Behavior. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1970.
Berne, Eric. Games PeoplePlay. New York: Grove Press, 1967. (First published: 1964)
Castaneda, Carlos. The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge. New York: Ballantine Books, 1969.
A Separate Reality: Further Conversations With Don Juan. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1971.
Chomsky, Noam. Aspects of the Theory of Syntax. Cambridge, Mass.: M.I.T. Press, 1965.
Garfinkel, Harold. Studies in Ethnomethodology. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1968.
Gendlin, E.T. "Values and the Process of Experiencing." In A. H. Mahrer, (ed.),
The Goals of Psychotherapy. New York: Appleton-Century Crofts, 1967.
Goffman, Erving. Relations in Public: Microstudies of the Public Order. New York: Basic Books, 1971.
Kochman, Thomas. "Black English in the Classroom." Department of Linguistics, Northeastern Illinois State College, 1969 (Mimeo.).
Laing, R. D. The Politics of Experience. New York: Ballantine Books, 1967.
Mitchell-Kernan, Claudia. Language Behavior in a Black Urban Community. Working Paper No. 23, Language Behavior Research Laboratory, 1969 (Mimeo.).
Sacks, Harvey. "Aspects of the Sequential Organization of Conversation." (Forthcoming, Prentice-Hall).
Searle, J. R. Speech Acts. Cambridge, England and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1969.
Watts, A. W. Psychotherapy: Eastand West. New York: Ballantine Books,1969.
Wilkinson, A. M. (ed.). "The State of Language." Educational Review, 22(1), 1969.
Back to Leon James Articles || e-mail Leon James