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Newsletter of Project Renaissance and Win Wenger
IN THIS ISSUE:
* Quote of the Month
* FEATURE ARTICLE: "The Limbic Brain" (Part Two) - by Win Wenger
* Comments & Feedback
* Links - archives, back issues, homepage
* Reader Questionnaire
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
"The prevention of free inquiry is unavoidable so long as the
purpose of education is to produce belief rather than thought, to
compel the young to hold positive opinions on doubtful matters
rather than let them see the doubtfulness and be encouraged to
independence of mind. Education ought to foster the wish for the
truth, not the conviction that some particular creed is the truth."
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Topic: Beyond problem-solving.....Adventures in Discovery,
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DOUBLE FESTIVAL XII - November 2003...
Plan now to treat yourself to Project Renaissance's annual double
conference on Creative Problem-Solving and Accelerated Learning:
Friday-Saturday-Sunday, November 14-16, 2003
followed by Trainer Training, November 17-18, 2003
at a private facility in
The theme is "Problem-Solving in the Global Village".
Watch the website, http://www.winwenger.com/upcoming.htm
for further details and for Call for Presentations.
BALANCING ACT - Part 2 of 2:
Controlling Your Limbic Brain's Controls
on What You Can Do
by Win Wenger, Ph.D.
President, Project Renaissance
In Part One (April 2003), we approached genius and giftedness as
functions of the physical appetite structures of the limbic brain.
That ability is widely distributed in the human population, but
genius and giftedness may also be viewed as matters of drive more
than ability. We cited workshop training experiences where
seemingly ordinary people, examining their own early childhoods,
recalled episodes of suppressed genius or precocity, squelched and
forgotten. They had learned it was safer to run behind than to run
Would most of us be gifted had such early episodes not
extinguished our appetites for discovery? How do societies so
predictably extinguish their own brightest lights?
In this issue we examine points related to limbic brain
functions where educational approaches could be changed. Such
intervention and redirection could profoundly improve educational
and personal development.
--- Part Two: Some Intervention Points ----
Institutions at all levels, like any other complex homeostatic
(self-stabilizing) system, seek to conserve energy by reducing the
range of variables with which they must contend. Nearly always,
this requires people to behave predictably. In some sectors such
predictability - as in driving on a designated side of the road
- aids survival. But in many other sectors little justifies it
beyond convenience for the institution itself.
Conversely, creativity, giftedness and genius behave unpredict-
ably, and they generate unpredictable conditions. The pain of that
inconvenience, in turn, is visited upon the perpetrator, even when
the institution's own survival may depend upon that gifted but
At best, then, gifted behavior usually goes unreinforced. At
worst it becomes painfully punished. Such phenomena may be so wide-
spread that without such extinctions nearly everyone reading this
report would rank among the "exceptionally gifted."
THE EXTREME FORM OF EXTINCTION OF GENIUS:
IN OUR SCHOOLS
For decades, a peculiar provision of U.S. Federal and state
aid to education has rewarded no teacher or administrator with
money or power if Junior learns BETTER than others (except at
graduate school levels, where different dynamics apply). However,
if Junior learns worse, the system supplies more money and power
for compensatory efforts. This system inadvertently rewards poor
teaching, poor curriculum content, and poor methods.
During the European Renaissance the Socratic method was a
principal feature of schools and education. Under the Socratic
method, the teacher asked a pupil acutely thought-provoking
questions. The student was forced, in seeking to answer them, to
examine his internal and external perceptions and to describe
what he discovered. Exercising the Socratic method enriched each
student's mind. This approach consistently produced genius in the
populations where it was used.
In the mid- to late-19th century, most countries, including
They aimed to produce national power by training citizens to
perform as cogs in the early industrial machine and as obedient
soldiers for cannon fodder.
Schools abandoned "educating" when they substituted the didac-
tic teaching of the Prussian model. They adopted a model of pouring
information and skills into "tabula rasa," the virtually "empty
slates" of students' minds. Their system assessed progress in terms
of the degree of failure of students to retain this poured-in
In Socratic method, human learners were cultivated around their
strengths. They became, so to speak, Sequoia trees. In the "tabula
rasa" Prussian model prevailing today, educators' attention trains
on where the student "doesn't measure up." Instead of proceeding
from strengths, students are mainly attuned to their shortfalls.
We have nearly all been convinced, coming through such experiences,
that we're not really all that good. We've been cultivated around
our weaknesses and perceived shortcomings, instead of around our
strengths, enroute to becoming little privet hedges instead of
"VERIFICATION" OF LEARNING METHODS
All human learning arrives in context. Something has meaning
only in context of how it relates to other things, and/or how a
change in one bears upon what happens in the other. Virtually all
current educationally approved practices were validated by
procedures devoid of context. Empty schooling has no relevance to
MORE ON THE ROLE OF THE LIMBIC BRAIN
The limbic brain, assessing the readiness of the system to
handle a given stimulus, tells the cortex how to handle that
stimulus - whether to run with and explore it in some manner
("there's gold in them thar hills - go for it!"), or whether to
just "bury it under a rug somewhere and forget about it." Some of
that context is the individual's own physical attitude within the
body. Some of it is the "second plane of awareness" context of
classroom, teacher manner, etc., in ways well addressed by Dr.
Georgi Lozanov and his Suggestopedic method.
* * *
An example, Dear Reader, of the power of the physical
attitudes of the body in determining what the limbic tells the
cortex to do with a stimulus, is this simple demonstration. Please
stand now, with feet about two feet apart, slump-shouldered. Gaze
slack-jawed at the ceiling, and say (or try to say) crisply, "I'm
a brilliant genius!!!"
Now pull your feet together, straighten into a much more alert
and crisp physical posture, and say that again.
(End of demo.)
* * *
Now let us examine, from that small demonstration, the power
of context working against you and for you. In that first
instance, you could FEEL the commands relayed by the limbic, from
the physical attitudes of the body, fighting even your ability to
say a simple sentence! Far subtler perceptions, intellectualiza-
tions and behaviors are infinitely more susceptible to physical
attitudes of the body (especially habituated "body language"), to
say nothing of Lozanov's "second plane contexts,” which also
operate as controlling factors in the process.
These, then, are main elements of the emerging model in which
the limbic brain dominates human learning and teaching, intellect
and giftedness. In turn, we can expand on these few elements where
the model indicates that intervention. There, changes in methods
of educating and cultivating personal growth can open new frontiers
in desirable outcomes.
WAYS TO IMPROVE
In no particular order, we list a few possible intervention
1. Improve POSTURE while learning; improve posture in the
classroom. Modify furniture to induce more appropriate physical
attitudes. Research, discover, and explore contrast between the
physical attitudes of genius and one's own physical attitudes, as
in "Borrowed Genius" ( http://www.winwenger.com/borrow1.htm ).
2. Use contexts from which you - or students - may "search
and describe" inner and outer perceptions, without the direction
of Socratically acute questions. (Half of the Project Renaissance
methods at http://www.winwenger.com introduce such design
3. Reintroduce EMOTION, the language of the limbic, into
lesson content. (Emotion and controversy have been stripped from
education by competing public pressures.)
4. Adopt procedures and programs that lead students (and
teachers) to discover or rediscover their own genius. Address
the feelings experienced when their/our prior precocities were
being extinguished. Cultivate appetites and gusto for learning.
5. Determine ways to relate, or even to sublimate-in, intel-
lectual and aesthetic drives to the physical appetite structures
of the brain, to an even greater extent than now. How? Possibly,
as with thousands of various "disciplines," using fasting or other
manipulations of physical appetite to heighten mental performance.
At the very least, to defend instances of high intellectual
endowment from such threats as appetite suppressants and against
times of physiological appetite change.
6. Carefully destabilize contexts, classrooms, students,
teachers, administrators, or parents (!) in ways that elicit extra
efforts and challenges to recover intellectual balance. Let ample
and free discussion follow.
7. Restore Socratic, or at least perceptual "search-and-
describe", procedures as a preferred method of "education",
working with - rather than despite - individual, societal, and
8. Amygdalal and hippocanthal functions, not addressed here,
suggest among other things a careful positive reinforcement of
some of the component behaviors which come together to express
gifted behavior and/or giftedness in relating to physical appetite
brain structures. This is not so much learning behavior per
behaviorism as extrinsic reward systems.
9. Establish a learning context in which selected spontaneous
behaviors of the learner are reinforced for persistence, rather
than interrupted and squelched. Much of the original Montessori
Method was based upon this. That takes on added meaning in relation
to the common finding that highly gifted adults and commonly
regarded "creative geniuses" generally reflect high levels of
"compulsiveness" in their psychological profiles. And that their
high contributions historically come mostly through persistence
in the face of discouragement and punishment.
10. Develop and enrich a vocabulary and language of feelings.
Feelings are a primary processing language of the limbic. This can
bring into better reach of our conscious mind and intent the true
core of where our actual choices and decisions are made. In con-
trast, our conscious choices and decisions are usually overridden,
unawares, by those made in our limbic.
These are but a few of the points where intervention could lead
to greatly improved outcome, in education and career and also in
general. As we understand more of the role of the limbic brain in
its equilibriating and directing of the intellect, and as we grasp
the implications of understandings at which we have already arrived,
other key points of positive transformation should follow.
It is also clear that our understandings of the CORTEX now must
address and include the limbic which directs that cortex. The limbic
brain’s seeking of homeostasis through more and more complex living
circumstances created that cortex. Already, the similarities and
differences between the remarkably specialized left and right
temporal lobes of the cortex begin to make greater sense than
before the limbic model emerged.
Many more researchers are needed to explore this field.
Opportunities abound for original discovery and for major improve-
ments to educational practice. Such discoveries can be productive
for professional and career advancement. The opportunities for such
discoveries are so numerous that they are easy to find. We urge
further attention, whether by researchers or laymen, to what the
limbic brain means and can mean to what's important in your
experience. Educational implications follow.
Now that you've read this article, you are cordially invited to
discover ten times more meaning and content from it than you are
aware of right now. Please turn to keyboard, pen and paper, or a
tape recorder, and, following the procedures either of Freenoting
( http://www.winwenger.com/freenote.htm ) or of Windtunnel
( http://www.winwenger.com/part55.htm ), for some sustained rapid-
flow torrential minutes record absolutely everything that comes to
mind in this context, faster than you can think about or judge. Be
willing to discard (afterward) a first few nonsense paragraphs to
get through to some insights which will surprise you greatly.
- Win Wenger <mailto:email@example.com>
To read an extended version of this article in the Mindfields
section of the Project Renaissance website, see:
To send feedback privately to the author, email to Win Wenger at
To send your comments about this article to
To post your feedback or promote a discussion of this topic:
COMMENTS & FEEDBACK
In the April 2003 edition of
Jacob <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org> about an increase in the amount
of energy being used during audio feedback.
In reply, Chris Benson <mailto:Chris-B@audioeditions.com> writes:
The power required to produce a certain increase in sound volume is
a simple logarithmic curve, where each doubling of the perceived
loudness (yes, perceived by a human - if Werner Heisenberg isn't
in the forest when the tree falls, can we be certain that there
really was a tree?) requires 10 time the energy in terms of kinetic
energy. I'd be really surprised (shocked and sickened, actually) if
this didn't apply to feedback squeals as well.
Basically, feedback occurs through the process of escalating
reinforcement. A sound is being produced that resonates with the
environment in some way, in either the room or the electronics,
much the same as a note is produced when you blow across a bottle.
Some form of amplification is required to provide the escalation
of the resonance, but as long as the amplifier and other elements
of the system can provide greater output, the escalation should
follow the typical dB power curve, the same as turning up the
volume on a non-resonant sound.
Where it gets interesting is when the limitations of the devices or
the characteristics of the environment cause the feedback resonance
frequency or character to change as the power escalates.
Resonance is a strange beast, and another thing entirely. If you
can determine the resonance of an object, a space, a device, a
person, etc., it's not exactly what I would call feedback, but
vibrations can become self-reinforcing due to the correspondence
of coinciding wavefronts.
I'm now thinking specifically of a story regarding Nikola Tesla
when he was immersed in resonance studies where he invented a
mechanical reciprocating device to provide a small hammer blow at
regular intervals, calculated the resonant frequency of a large
building. According to this anecdote, it worked so well that the
building began to sway and he ended up shattering the device with
a large sledgehammer and breaking the resonance to prevent it from
Whether or not this story is true, SELF-reinforcing systems are
subject to runaway escalation with very little additional power
input because they become chaotic in nature and it takes only 'a
minimal change in the input variable' to provide a 'catastrophic
change' in the resulting output, by forcing the system to another
area of a strange attractor that represents the available states
in phase space. This is a lot of scientific-sounding mumbo-jumbo
for the last straw on the camel, or Ella Fitzgerald breaking the
wine glass on the old 'Is it live or is it Memorex?' commercials.
This is also how lasers work. And metaphorical thinkers can see
that this has ramifications for socio-political power, resonance,
and feedback as well.
- Chris Benson ( http://www.audioeditions.com )
One could extrapolate the process to politics, accounting for the
engineered bipolarity of political parties to counterbalance each
other, and for the deliberate destabilizing of foreign governments.
Self-reinforcing systems - aren't we all. And the obsessive-
compulsives among us merely lack a self-balancing subroutine to do
the Tesla shattering in cases of excess. Ah, free will.
In Part One of the feature article, "Balancing
April 2003), Win Wenger wrote,
"Near-, far- or astigmatic-sightedness is a function of how the
brain defines resting-point or equilibrium for the eyes. Correct
the brain's definition of equilibrium and correct your eyesight."
Linda Teuling <mailto:
Win Wenger <mailto:email@example.com> responds:
Linda, the way I did it worked for me and for three other people
out of about thirty I tried it on. Evidently the technique isn't
strong and reliable enough to publish as one of our ways of working
effects. Actually, it is a combination of techniques, several of
which are wholly reliable in their own right and one of which is
published in our "Winsights" articles Nos. 28-29 (see
http://www.winwenger.com/part29.htm ) as (extensive practice, over
some months, of) "noise-removal breathing." I mention that because
if you want to try the procedure as an experiment, that component
of what would be the experiment has the longest "lead time," and
by the time you had done several months of daily practice, 1 or 2
sessions daily, 5-15 minutes of "noise-removal breathing," I expect
to publish the whole eyesight-correcting procedure - as an experi-
ment if people want to try it, not as one of our procedures for
We like for our actual published procedures to be as close to 100%
reliable as possible, and this experimental combination works only
about 10% of the time, hence this careful distinction. I wouldn't
be putting this procedure up at all except that there has been so
much interest in it. But since I will be, I hope that various
people in fact trying it out can develop data for us - or for
someone - that will lead to a more reliable technique, and maybe
for a lot more than just eyesight.
Thank you for asking.
- Win Wenger <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org?subject=Eyesight>
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