Try Another Way
Dr. Marc Gold (26 Minutes)
Marc Gold: The behaviors our children show are a reflection of our incompetence, not theirs.
Narrator: This is the bench where Tom works, and this is a poem written by Dr. Marc Gold:
If you could only know me for who I am,
Instead of for who I am not,
There would be so much more to see,
Because there's so much more that I've got.
So long as you see me as mentally retarded,
Which supposedly means something, I guess,
There's nothing you or I could ever do,
To make me a human success.
Some day you'll know that tests aren't built
To let me stand next to you,
By the way you test me, all they can do
Is make me look bad, through and through.
And some day soon, I'll get my chance,
When some of you finally adapt,
You'll be delighted to know that
though I'm MR,
I'm not at all handicapped.
Try Another Way is an introduction to a new training concept for the mentally retarded. A concept created by Dr. Marc Gold.
(Roger Hoffman: They begin to bring in the structure, the…)
Narrator: Roger Hoffman is director of Unit 10 at the Dixon State School in Dixon, IL. He and his staff have been involved with the Try Another Way concept since September 1973. These are some of his thoughts on the subject…
Roger Hoffman: And we made the decision, ok, we started out with the feeling—with a very definite feeling—that this type of training technique would only have benefit in the work behavior. Lo and behold, we find that Try Another Way has come up in tasks such as toilet training, tasks such as bed making, brushing teeth, other areas. We found very quickly that the technology was more than just a specific work technology, but rather was a very valid, very rational approach to any type of training. Then the philosophy, the humanity begins to creep into the program. It's not as tight, it's observable. It's not quantifiable. But the staff all of a sudden begins to see their limits of an individual dissipate. The boundaries that we all automatically set for these "mentally retarded people" it begins to melt. All of a sudden they're individuals.
(Dr. Marc Gold: Try another way, good.)
Narrator: The man in the blue shirt is Dr. Marc Gold; the man in the white shirt is Eugene. Eugene is mentally retarded. He's 29 years old. He has an IQ of 32. He's been a resident of Dixon State School in Dixon Illinois since he was 8 years old.
(Gold: Try another way... good.)
Narrator: Dr. Gold is teaching Eugene to assemble a bicycle brake.
(Gold: You're doing a very nice job… Try another way... good.)
Narrator: Dr. Gold developed the instructional technology which he's using to train Eugene, and he calls it the Try Another Way Approach. Since 1967 Dr. Gold and his staff have trained hundreds of severely and profoundly retarded people, using the bicycle brake as a model task. He has also trained many of these people to assemble electronic circuit boards using the same Try Another Way technology.
As you watch Eugene and Marc work together, you'll notice the minimal use of language. Try Another Way is essentially non-verbal. You'll also notice a very positive trainer-learner relationship. Notice, too, the level of Eugene's concentration throughout the session. He's involved in the task every second.
(Gold: Try another way, good.)
The purpose of this film is to introduce Dr. Gold and his Try Another Way technology to every one involved in the field of mental retardation and to announce that Dr. Gold is presently producing a series of training films, when finished, the series will represent a complete self-contained training program for people interested in learning Dr. Gold's teaching technology.
(Gold: Look at that, Eugene. Very, very nice job. Thank you very much, ok? That's really good work. Would you like to do this some more? O.K., tomorrow you 're going to get a chance to do it some more…)
Gold: This is a bicycle brake. Since 1967, when we began this research, it has had a major impact on the development of my philosophy and on the techniques that have generated from our research. It's principle impact has been to point out the discrepancy between what people think are the capabilities of the severely handicapped, the mild and severely and profoundly retarded, and what they're really capable of doing.
The hundreds of people that we've trained in this task, almost 100% if the time, have learned quickly and efficiently to do this. If they can learn to do this task, this task which, in and of itself, means nothing at all, certainly many of the things that we have kept from them—complicated things to learn, we think—many of those things are things that they would learn, things that would allow them to join us, as thoroughly participating members of society.
This is Barbara. She's 19 years old and for the last 11 years has lived in an institution. According to her records, her I.Q. is 11, whatever that means. She's working with this task and with me for the first time. She's more talkative than a lot of the people we work with. It's a pleasure to work with people like this because you can see the growth so fast, you can see changes in their dignity, in how they approach the task, how they feel about training. (Barbara makes noises throughout.) You listen to her complaining here, and yet, her hands are cookin'. She has a piece of shoelace that you've seen her tuck under her arm there.
(Gold in background: Try Another Way)
We haven't developed particular procedures for handling shoelaces, so we have to handle that one on the cuff.
The techniques that you're seeing used here might be described as essentially non-verbal, as providing different kinds of feedback, manual feedback and that is going in and placing her fingers in different positions, there goes the shoelace, and as fading procedures in the sense that we give them information and as they make mistakes, we try to give them less information each time, but enough information to solve the problem.
Notice that she's looking up at me, but I don't look back. If I thought there was anything to learn in my face, then I'd look back. I want her eyes on the task, that's where the learning is to take place. Most of the individuals we work with make eye contact, that goes away fairly quickly when you don't reinforce it, when you don't give them reason to continue looking. You'll also notice that I don't respond by talking back when she talks to me.
(Gold in background: Try another way, good.)
(Gold in background: Try another way, good.)
She obviously understands the expression "try another way" at this point. The session has now been running for approximately three minutes. In that period of time, look at all the stuff that she's acquired. She understands my moving her hands around in position, she understands the expression, "try another way"; perhaps most interesting of all, here she is three and a half minutes into the task and there is still total attention to the task. I wouldn't be surprised if this is the longest she's ever been asked to sit somewhere and do something specific. Maybe with the exception of eating something.
A little affection there showing. It's very hard not to look when something like that looks up at you. Here I think we're going to find a solution for that shoelace.
(Gold in background: Ok, now we can re-focus, ok.)
They also begin to understand in a short period of time that if we reach in, we're trying to let them know where we want their fingers and what we want them to do.
(Gold in background: Try another way, good.)
(Gold in background: Try another way, good.)
Although you won't see this in the particular training session, that expression transfers itself to many other situations. The expression "try another way," used here, is under a situation where there's only one other way to try. When they go to another task when a part might go on one of 5 or 6 different ways, the expression "try another way" works. They'll try several different ways until they find the right one. That's very important, because many of the people we work with don't usually have alternatives. They do something, if it's wrong, that's the end, you have to go in and show. Teaching them to try alternatives is a very important part of this training procedure.
(Gold in background: Ok, Very good.)
This is production. Production takes place after criterion. One way to describe the difference is that the performer, or the worker, moves from a circumstance where he has external feedback to one where he has internal feedback. Notice that Eugene is making decisions for himself here. We assume that once he has reached criterion, he can do that and in fact we find with virtually everyone that we have trained, that is the case.
We had Eugene produce these bicycle brakes one hour a day for 10 days. He produced 130 of them. 13 brakes per hour on the average. 6 of them were assembled incorrectly. That's an error rate of 4.6%. At the factory where these brakes used to be manufactured, the error rate was 6%. We don't think comparisons are important in the final analysis—and that is, we're not interested in making these individuals perform like normal people, or reach industrial standards in the conventional sense, although we're finding that that's not so difficult to do. We're interested in making them successful. Industry's going to have to realize, if it doesn't already, that success is not simply X number of units per hour. Success depends on things like accuracy, consistency, managerial drain-time, attendance, longevity on the job, and for many of these things, the people we're talking about on this film are individuals who've already demonstrated better performance than normal individuals.
One of the things that's very interesting, there's no relationship in any of our data between how a person performs on an I.Q. test and how he performs on these tasks. Eugene's I.Q. score, incidentally, is 32. When you find no relationship between a person's ability to perform on a test like that, and his ability to learn and then produce tasks like this, it raises some very serious questions.
Barbara also produced bicycle brakes for one hour a day for 10 days. In that period of time, she built 110 brakes. 4 of them were assembled wrong. With an average of 11 brakes an hour, you might say—depending on how you looked at things—that she doesn't produce very much. On the other hand, producing at that rate, with the accuracy that she does, you might turn around and say that that represents a fantastically higher level of remuneration than people like Barbara now get for either sitting around doing nothing, or producing the Mickey Mouse garbage things that our society has given to sheltered workshops, thinking that's all these people can perform.
As the technology develops, it becomes increasingly clear to us that virtually all of those individuals that we have screened out—that we've made permanent members of the surplus labor force—it's very clear that those people are capable of doing reliable and remunerative work. It's up to us to come up with the techniques to get them there.
(Dr. Richard Shaffelbush: The cause, because I have a different philosophy…)
Announcer: Dr. Richard Shaffelbush and Marc Gold:
Dr. Shaffelbush: Are there any limitations to people—let's say the trainers—are you limited to certain kinds of very skillful people who can process or handle the transaction at that subtle level, or is it possible, generally, to teach this to a wide range of training personnel?
Gold: In the last few months at one of our research stations, we trained a moderately retarded man as the trainer, and within basically the same periods of time that we usually do, he brought two other mentally retarded, severely retarded, individuals to criterion on the bicycle brakes.
Shaffelbush: That's amazing. What you're saying now is that it isn't necessary to have somebody either who's had an extraordinary amount of formal training or a person that's considered to be exceptionally gifted or bright.
Gold: Almost all of the individuals that we have trained to train others have been people with very little prior experience in the field, and in most instances, with little or no formal training. So it's fairly clear that the technology that we're developing is usable by probably just about anyone. And the training time is just a few days—the initial training time.
Shafflebush: The thing that intrigues me about all this, Marc, is that we've had, for a long time, some very gifted people and very gifted organizations that have been designing tasks and systemic procedures that can be performed by machines. And we've developed a technology for industrial production that's just truly remarkable. But there have been very few people like yourself who, and I happen to know what your capabilities are as a scientist and researcher, who've given time and attention to design systems that can be performed by human beings that ordinarily are not employable. And I think that is a real frontier really, for scientific effort in our society.
(Where you taught the person who was previously thought not to be skillful...
Gold: This is an electric printed circuit board. The electronics industry finds it very difficult to obtain individuals who will work on these tasks, who will assemble these tasks over long periods of time, accurately and consistently. Even during periods of high unemployment, there are high turnover rates in personnel on the assembly lines where these are made. The bicycle brakes that we use in our research are a medium. They're just a task to use to find techniques for training people who find it very difficult to learn.
The circuit boards which now provide one of the major tasks that we're using in our research, they're much more than that. We feel that people who have always been surplus members of the labor force—the people we're concerned with here—are capable of entering into the world of work and providing a source of labor that has never been available before. A source of labor that can reliably, consistently, and accurately produce these tasks, stay on the job for a long period of time, and provide the electronics industry and our society with a source of labor that's needed, that's wanted and isn't presently available.
According to my competence/deviance hypothesis, the more competence an individual has, the more deviance will be tolerated in him by others. Many of the individuals we work with will always have something or things about them that bring negative attention.
For example, Francis doesn't talk very much at all. But, what you see him doing here represents the kind of work skill that is needed and not available to industry. When Francis assembles electronic circuit boards like you see him doing here, those things about him that normally bring negative attention don't seem so important any more because you're overpowered by the competence of this individual. When industry finds out that people like Francis are trained, competent and available, those things about Francis that have kept him out of the labor force will become much less significant.
Gold: Why can't the people we serve have their balances, too? Why can't we give them genuine competence? Why can't we give them things that not everyone else has?
The answer is that we can.
As soon as we decide that they have the right to acquire really sophisticated genuine skills, social skills, self-help skills, academic skills, etc., etc.,… then they can have the same chunk of the action that we have.
Narrator: The producers of "Try Another Way," would like to express their grateful appreciation to the following people who contributed so much, so graciously to the making of this film:
Dr. Richard L. Shafflebush: Director of the University of Kansas Bureau of Child Research
Roger C. Hoffman: Director of Unit 10 at the Dixon State School, Dixon IL.
And these four delightful young people whose skills and competence made this film necessary:
…and special thanks to the Dixon State School and the Development Services Center in Champagne, IL.