With its ‘double-planedness’, ‘elaboration’, ‘concert sessions’, ‘primary activation’ and ‘pseudo-passiveness’, jargon or sciency sounding words are liberally employed. Richards & Rodgers note that “The method has a somewhat mystical air about it…partially because of it’s arcane terminology and neologisms, which one critic has unkindly called… pseudoscientific gobbledygook’” (2014:317).
Very often the exact means by which [Lozanov’s] results were obtained remains obscure. Statistics, as has been pointed out by more than one reviewer, are often faulty or incomplete; the evidence from several experiments tends to be fused (or even confused).(1999:51)
What Richards and Rodgers don’t tell you.
3) he believed that “Telepathy is an inexpensive and promising communication system” (1971:293)
4) he believed that he could render people unconscious with telepathy.
These omissions in the literature and the seeming way his slightly weirder beliefs are ignored interests me. Take Baur’s insistence that:
Lozanov discovered that certain yogic techniques of physical and mental relaxation could be used to produce a state of analgesia, or relief from pain, on the one hand, and a state of hypermnesia, or greatly improved memory and concentration, on the other…
Did Lozanov actually discover this? Or did he claim to discover it, -there is a whole world of difference. It just seems that Baur is happy to accept Lozanov’s claims without question. But don’t ‘extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence?‘
These are not isolated incidents, almost everywhere Lozanov appears there is no mention of any of this kind of thing and his claims are either taken on face value or just ignored. Hooper Hansen is equally generous. In Tomlinson’s 2011 book on materials development she writes:
The complexity of Lozanov’s method is due to a lifetime’s research into the hidden language and territory of the unconscious, in particular the nebulous area where it meets the conscious, which he calls the ‘para-conscious’
He then goes on to talk about ‘left brained and right brained learners‘. Another example is Diane Larsen-Freeman who in this video tells viewer to keep an open mind and don’t dismiss things ‘ask yourself instead, is there anything valuable here that I can adapt to my own circumstances.’
A very cursory examination of suggestopedia turns up things that would strain the credibility of even the most credulous. For example, Bancroft notes that “Dr. Lozanov…has performed painless surgical operations using suggestion and/or hypnosis instead of anesthetic” (2005:21) And yet suggestopedia still has some degree of currency in the ELT world. It still has exactly one more chapter in Richards and Rodgers latest edition than approaches like Dogme, crazy English or Demand High. It is still a choice for some DELTA experimental lessons and some teachers still use this approach. This study for example shows just how seriously some teachers can take it. Lozanov even made an appearance as a supporting reference in an ELTJ article recently.
‘These fragments I have shored against my ruins‘ -T.S. Eliot
My question then is ‘why?’ Why is it necessary for every method to be examined for some small saving grace? It almost seems as if there is a hoarding tendency among the TEFL community and we are reluctant to disregard methods wholly, no matter what problems we find with them. ‘Sure’ people say, ‘The Silent Way is not for me, but Cuisenaire Rods? Now that I can get on board with!’
We sit surrounded by odds and ends of grammar translation, trinkets of audiolingualism and some TPR stuffed under the mattress. Is it that we are such an impoverished field it seems risky to throw anything at all away? Or is this the elusive beast ‘principled eclecticism’ that I’ve heard so much about it. It certainly seems eclectic, but I’m struggling to see what the principles are.
afterword: A note on the name
Although it seems a little early to talk about reservopaedia before the science reservology has been entirely established, it will be right to gradually replace the word suggestopaedia by the word reservopaedia. And the science called reservology can be developed with the initial research of the laws of reservopaedia. These laws are very typical. All we need is highly qualified and respectable scientists. (2005:11)