BEYOND TEACHING AND LEARNING
by Win Wenger, Ph.D.
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Contents of Page Two:
Frame Three: Psychology's main law and how to use it
Frame Four: Retrieving unconscious awarenesses into consciousness
Psychology's Main Law and How to Use It
Through behavior's prime "natural law," the Law of Effect, you can access any region of your awareness and bring it into full focus of consciousness where it's immediately useful to you. What is that Law of Effect?
Natural laws are not the kind of laws which any legislature can pass. They are patterns of events carefully observed in nature, described in a form which allows one
to recognize or predict where else such patterns of event will occur, and
tested to make certain that these descriptions are accurate.
You might or might not have a formal statement yourself for "the law of gravity" in
physics, but you are well aware that there is such a law, you know that
that law is there regardless of what Congress or any legislature might try
to say about it, that the "enforcer" is nature itself rather than some
policeman or government regulator. For example, you can pretty well predict, even from your informal understanding of the law of gravity, the outcome of walking off the top of a cliff.
Understand well enough, enough natural laws, and you can not only understand but pretty well predict most of what's going on around you (and within you!). If we
knew enough of the actual laws of nature, everything happening to us and
around us would make sense, and it would be a lot easier to make things
come out in a desirable way. Most of science itself is an ongoing,
careful, disciplined search for better understandings of natural law.
The Law of Effect
Many-volumed texts have been written on the Law of Effect. A simple, informal statement of it, however, will suit most purposes even when closely examined. Here is that simple, informal statement of the Law of Effect: You get more of
what you reinforce!
This simple law can be taken in many directions, just
as a simple screwdriver can be used in a lot of different ways. In this
frame, though, we will look mainly at:
- How to take control over more of your own life, away from unthinking institutions and overworked/distracted authorities which may control so much of your life
- How to use this Law of Effect to reinforce into full
conscious useful awareness the learnings, information, understandings, and
awarenesses that you are pursuing.
Do More of Your Own Reinforcement
Don't depend so directly upon the rewards and guidance of others. Let me give an example:
Ever start to have an idea, didn't do anything about it, and eventually forgot all about it?
We all have done that, hundreds if not thousands of times. Only those ideas that you respond to in some way telling somebody, or making a note of it, or acting in some way in response to it can you remember many, maybe even any, of your passed-over ideas now? Here is the problem with that:
Each time you let an idea slip through without responding in some way to it, you are reinforcing the behavior of being UNcreative. Each time you do tell somebody about it, or note it down somewhere, or in some way respond to it or act upon it, you are
reinforcing the behavior of being creative. By reinforcing such
behavior, you become more creative.
Likewise, each time you notice something others probably have not noticed, and you let that slide through without response, you are reinforcing the behavior of being UNobservant. Alas, in fact, too much of the training and schooling we have going
on is training in what not to notice! And each time you do tell
somebody about it, note it down somewhere, or in some way respond to it,
or act on it, you are reinforcing the behavior of being observant, of
being perceptive. By reinforcing this behavior, you make yourself into a
more perceptive person, gaining permanent benefits of being more
perceptive and observant.
Wherever you are, whoever you are, whatever your circumstances, you can easily do that for yourself. How observant or perceptive or creative a person you are is your choice, your doing, you don't have to have a special program provided to you. There are
plenty of good programs which are a real convenience to have, but you
don't have to have these, you don't even need anyone's permission, to make
yourself as creative and perceptive and observant as you please. It's up
Using the Law of Effect in Learning
Generally, what you respond to, you reinforce.
You reinforce your contact with, and awareness of, whatever it is you are
responding to. And, you are reinforcing whatever skills and traits you
are drawing upon for that situation.
The more you can find to reward, even excite, your senses or imagination or pleasure in any body of learning, the more of that learning is reinforced into full focus of
conscious awareness and of immediately retrievable memory.
Everything suggested above, and most notably everything
suggested in the first frame, are ways to find your own reinforcements
in what you are learning, so you can learn it more
OK, so you've got a test coming up tomorrow morning. But let me ask you:
Just one thought here I'm sure you can take this question the rest of the way. How long has most of the learning you've gone through up to this point lasted for
you or remained where it's useful to you? --Or has it been useful
to you??? Can you relate that to what gets reinforced when your main or
only major objective is to get by that next test?
- What are the things
reinforced in you if your main reinforcement is just to get past that
- What are the things reinforced in you if your main
reinforcements are from within and from the added values you can gain from
these effective ways of focussing your awareness?
* * *|
(Here is where, if you happen to have previously acquired the
"Freenoting" method taught in the next chapter, we'd ask for a Freenoting pause
because that will bring out so very many astonishing realizations for you.
If not now, though, after your immediate learning emergency is over and
you've gone into the main part of this book, you might for fun come back
to where I've put the three stars or asterisks, freenote there for 10 or
so minutes, and discover just how much there really is for you that is
revolving around even just this one point! For now, just earmark this page for easy return to it after you've read the Freenoting technique.)
Your life is controlled by what is reinforced in it. How much of that you wish to continue to entrust to others, and how much you care to take on for yourself, is up to you as is what directions you take this in if you do assume that added control over your own life by developing your own ways of reinforcing yourself.
The hot tip from this, your third frame, then, is almost the same as from your first frame: Find ways to make what you want to keep, from your learning-efforts, as utterly memorable, as entertaining, as engrossing, as reinforcing as
possible. And, from day to day and from point to point in your
activities, examine just what it is in you that's being reinforced
at that point....and what you care to do about it.
Retrieving Unconscious Awarenesses into Consciousness
You have heard it before, that only 5 to 10 percent of
the cells in your brain are developed at all. If you factor in the
question of how well those cells are developed, the statistic becomes a
little more alarming. Some brain cells have been counted with as many as
60,000 connections with other cells one measure of their development.
Most cells in your brain that are developed at all only have maybe a
dozen connections. Which means, it is not true that people's brains are 5
to 10 percent developed. Instead, factoring in the degree of development
of such cells as are developed, less than a thousandth of one percent of
their brains are developed!
From this one may reasonably infer that you and I and those around you, all of us have some room for improvement. That's not a rueful, "Boy, do we have a long way to go!" but a hopeful, "Hey, look how much farther we can get!"
Turning It On....
We know very. very little as yet about how to turn on more
of our endowed natural abilities. Even the little we do now know, though,
can make huge differences. However much advantage you find here or in the
rest of this book, though, before you play king of the hill remember how
much further room there is yet to go!
Here is a little of what we now already know
Every serious researcher of the brain or mind has come to agreement on one point from their various observations: that for every awareness you are consciously experiencing, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of other awarenesses which you are
How we have learned to select and funnel a very few things to conscious awareness, and to route everything else to unconscious, is in part by practicality. Most of the time at least, I don't want to put much of my attention into monitoring my liver
functions or analyzing in detail why so-and-so four years ago seemed to be
in such a hurry. But part of it was by accident of personal history,
which may or may not have led you toward the best strategy of selection.
And part of it features aspects of our culture, some of which are useful
and some of which lead you away from the best selection as to what goes to
conscious attention and what gets dumped into the unconscious.
For example, in our culture, whatever your personal ethics, you perceive some value to "the truth" and to ways of "getting at" truth. Correspondingly, at least some of what reaches your conscious attention bears on truth and its discovery, even if you were an inveterate liar. If that weren't the case, you'd be hopelessly muddled and lost.
But also in our culture, we are all taught by well-meaning teachers and
usually also by parents and bosses to "pay attention," meaning to look
like you're paying attention instead of mulling things over, instead of
imagination games which are the child's way of making sense of the world.
So all things considered, it seems possible to develop a better strategy in routing some awarenesses to consciousness and others to unconsciousness, so that more of what's meaningful and/or useful becomes clear to you. There is a little of that further on in this book, but more now of how to retrieve the more useful and meaningful parts of what had previously been dumped into unconsciousness.
I hope you interpret that to mean, not only the answers you need for tomorrow
morning's test, but whatever it is, in the body of information you are
studying, that might in the long run be useful and meaningful to you.
Otherwise, you are reinforcing in yourself short-term rote
memorization, and post-test forgetting, with all that effort you've
burned to date as a result going to waste thereafter.
So part of this frame's suggestion to you is this: In whatever you are now seeking to learn, what is there in it that you would like to have be more
useful to you, more meaningful (meaning, how it affects other things in
your experience) and/or drawing upon skills you would like to build
upon? Therein direct at least part of your attention; therein
find your reinforcements; and you are on the way.
What's Further at Stake in Retrieval
Another major thing all serious researchers of brain and/or mind, for more than a century, have come to agreement on from their very different observations, objectives, and backgrounds, is this: that every datum, every awareness conscious or
unconscious, is still with you in memory, still there to be usefully
Hey! Wasn't this where we came in? The complaint that
you can't remember such-and-such on a test "when you need it," yet all
that stuff is there somewhere in your memory more information by far, in fact, than everything in print at a great library or at a major university! There, in your memory, somewhere!....
Some researchers found that out by using an electric needle to stimulate individual tissues and cells in the brain during brain surgery. Others found that out by use
of certain experimental drugs. Many others found that out by use of deep
Fortunately, neither electroshock nor drugs nor hypnosis is needed, in the slightest, to enhance your ability to learn. My little daughter in that swim meet certainly never resorted to any of these. I have used hypnosis but not for twenty years. It's far harder to get anything like these effects going with hypnosis than by our present methods.
- act in some way upon or respond to what you are
learning, to reinforce it and the skills associated with it; and
- respond more to, and so reinforce, those elements within that learning
which relate to being useful to you beyond that test, and/or which draw
upon or lead to your further skills and proficiencies.
And, in terms of retrieval, start interacting with whatever sector of awareness or
memory you want to retrieve. Start with the part that's most easily
accessed, and by describing in detail to someone or to your tape recorder,
find that some leads to more which leads to yet more.
(In some sectors the most accessible part may even be pure imagination. Even by focussing and describing what's in your imagination in certain ways, will lead into
direct retrieval and experience of what you were searching for.)
Worth noting again: you've got within you l'il ol' you! more insight and understanding than can be found in print in a major university. A
remarkably easy way for you to get at that treasure-trove: simply find a
way to describe, from your own impressions, recall, imagery, or even
imagination, in detail and at length to an audience, thereby putting the
Law of Effect at your service in getting to your buried data.
This is, in fact, once you've done it a time or so, so easy to do that the
easiest way of learning almost anything is to simply start describing,
aloud to an audience, everything you know, think you know, perceive, or
otherwise guess, in the context of what you're trying to learn. Describe
rapidly, without worrying yet about accuracy, and keep going for awhile.
Soon it may become apparent how remarkably much of the subject you
actually already know! And what remains, then, to be learned by whatever
method, integrates rapidly around that already-known core.
You don't need any "magic pill;" you don't need any hypnosis.
With or without hypnosis, the fact remains that by the stronger of the periscopic
learning methods we introduced in Frame Two and feature later on, and by
each of our seven other main types of accelerated learning method, one may
easily learn in several days, sometimes in only hours, and with far fuller
understanding, proficiencies which otherwise conventionally require
years to build. This applies especially in the sciences and in most of the
humanities and, oddly enough, athletics, where kinesthetic understanding
is involved. Understanding is the first key here: these are not memorization
The Law of Effect is the second key here. Where do you want to find your reinforcement in the learning you are now pursuing? What do you want, in that learning and in yourself, to get reinforced?
The third key is: Find more ways to interact with
what you are trying to learn, so those reinforcements can begin to happen
and so that more of what you are trying to learn can find its way to
So these three keys are your fourth set of "hot tips":
going for understanding,
choosing where you want the Law of Effect to affect you, and
interacting more with what you are seeking to learn.
Taken together, details may differ, but all these frames are saying pretty much the same thing:
Find ways to involve yourself with, and interact with, what you are trying to learn.
respond to what you are learning, in ways which reinforce that learning and your to your long-term advantage.
Whatever your educational history and experience, you are brighter than you think. Much brighter. You have huge untapped potentials. Everyone who has seriously
researched brain or mind, whatever their starting point, is in agreement
on this important point. Albert Einstein himself, worldwide a household
word for "genius," was believed to have been mildly retarded before he
started doing some of the things we will teach in this book. You don't
have to make yourself a genius if you don't want to, but you don't have to
make heavy weather either out of what should be an easy, productive
pleasure: effective learning with meaningful understanding.
Good luck on that test of yours tomorrow morning! I hope that beyond that
short-term emergency situation, I will see you in the meaningful rest of
this book! Starting with a general explanation, introduction and
Freenoting, in Chapter Two...
Those were your free instructions! the free opening
chapter! To go far further, to get hugely better leverage on everything
around you, to obtain the whole of the new edition of Win Wenger's great
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