Suggesting Lozanov : suggestopedia and creative writing at a high school in Durban, South Africa.
Suggestopedia (also sometimes referred to as "Accelerated Learning") is a teaching methodology that claims to remove barriers to learning rather than teach students how to learn. Developed by Bulgarian psychotherapist and medical doctor Georgi Lozanov (1926- ), it utilizes a detailed, three-phase cycle of teaching in which about 75% of teaching time is devoted to "Activations", games and activities in which students rehearse material previously presented in unique "Concert Sessions" (which make up the other 25% of contact time). Suggestopedia highlights factors often forgotten in the classroom: the design of an "optimum" learning environment, high expectations of success from the teacher, the use of music and art, the importance of enjoying the learning process, and the fostering of an atmosphere of "relaxed alertness". The method has been used with some success, particularly in the teaching of foreign languages. Ostensibly based on the way we learn naturally, Suggestopedia has developed a number of incarnations, in some cases because Lozanov's work was not freely available in the West during the Cold War. This dissertation outlines the salient features of both Suggestopedia and some of its incarnations. Additionally, it suggests ways in which the method may be utilized in the high school English classroom in South Africa. In particular, it describes an intervention in which elements of Suggestopedia were used to teach creative writing in a multilingual environment. In short, this intervention involved the creation of a traditional two page creative "essay" inspired by, inter alia, the teacher's high expectations, the meditative atmosphere created by music, and the posters in the students' peripheral vision. A total of 158 Grade 9 and Grade 11 (mainly isiZulu speaking) students in an "ex-model C" school wrote, edited, and submitted such essays, the main criterion of success being whether each essay was deemed by the teacher to be of a sufficiently high standard to be reproduced here. The project, based on a qualitative research design using the process approach to writing and a Suggestopedicbased pedagogy, elicited many engaging pieces of writing from students. The spirit of their writing as well as the writers' own comments about the process will hopefully suggest the genius and versatility of the Lozanov methodology.