How intelligent is behaviourist learning?

If you read my (annual? are they that frequent?) posts on this blog, you know that I puzzle about the extent to which Moshe is a behaviourist, and the extent to which I think this is or isn’t an adequate approach to a) human learning and b) the kind of learning we do in Feldenkrais.

It so happens that in the other 9/10ths of my life teaching bioethics, I also have an open bucket in the back of my head that is the question set: “what presuppositions and blindspots might there be in stories about learning as routinization, which are common in the critical thinking literature in medicine; and what are the prospects and pitfalls for extending these accounts of critical thinking to critical thinking about ethical and social issues in medicine?”

From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, here is an overview of philosophical perspectives on behaviourism:

The New York Times Magazine has an article this weekend: How Companies Learn Your Secrets. It’s an interesting read for many reasons, but specifically related to behaviourism and learning, I was struck by its summary of the history of thinking about habit formation.

It first tells a story of rat learning. When I was reading the story about rat learning, I was imagining very active and curious rats, with creative strategies for approaching situations that contain unknowns, and with definite goals and interests. A more limited set, certainly, than humans (food, presumably some companionship at least with other rats…). They ‘generate hypotheses,’ try out going this, that and the other way in search of the chocolate. Gradually, and intelligently, they discard things that don’t work, and focus in on, repeat, perhaps even refine, and extend things that do work. Sounds like active, intelligent, goal-direction learning to me. And on such an account of learning, imagine how much richer and more complex the process would be if carried out by creatures with a broader range of goals, an ability to share strategies for innovation and gather feedback socially, and so on (like humans).

The author returns a few paragraphs below to parse the outcome of that history. The story now is: What we know is that people repeat behaviours more if they are rewarded for doing so. This is how habits are formed. In this summary, all of the sudden, it matters only minimally what the person wants or is trying to do. It matters minimally that the person has to be active and creative in generating options for how to achieve what they want. It matters minimally that the person has to have any kind of refined awareness of the world and of themselves in order to gather the right lessons in the feedback loop.

These struck me as radically different views of the process of learning. From another perspective, are they just two descriptions, at two different levels, of the “same” phenomena? Certainly, the latter focuses on the “steady state” after learning has taken place, when behaviour has been routinized. But the fact that we gravitate to the image (part metaphor, part deployment of what we understand goes on in myelination) that pathways are laid down and then strengthened, rather than the understanding that options are generated, tested, and then selectively discarded (which is what the neuroimaging studies may be metaphorically deployed to suggest), construes it as a rote process that could well be externally imposed, rather than an internal, creative, and intelligent process of negotiating self and world.

Lost the theme

Sigh. This is why I tell you drupal (the Content Management System on which this site is built) isn’t for amateurs. My theme stopped working after a security upgrade. I don’t know if I’ll take the time to retrieve my historical colours.

Which side?

Sometimes a lesson is entirely on one side. If it alternates sides, there is still a choice that has been made to start on one side or the other.

One principle at work in this is to start where the person is at, and explore what they already do best: we typically start with the side that has an easier time with whatever it is we’re exploring–movement, transmission of force, connection, etc.

But the choice of side in ATM has to be for everyone at once; even in choosing for the individual, there may be a tendency or pattern that individuals share with others.

In “The Elusive Obvious,” Moshe writes about this (pp. 75-77). The general theme of these pages seems to be how he independently and through his own work with people discovered things that others only discovered through large scientific research programs. These passages always involve a lot of name dropping. Very endearing.

He describes how, early in his use of ATM and FI during WW II, he would work exclusively on one side, in order to create a large contrast in feeling between the two sides, and therefore a situation in which a person would learn from him or herself, comparing the sensation of the sides and transferring the learning from the side that was active during the lesson to the side that had been passive. This discovery somehow anticipated, he thinks (as Bronowski explained to him), how the use of stochastic strategies in foraging (in evolutionary theory), requires an internal feeling/preference for the optimal. A quick google doesn’t immediately bring me to any connection between random walk theory and internal preferences, so I don’t know whether that idea Bronowski explained to Feldenkrais is still current.

But then, Moshe says, he gradually discovered that some things could be learned more easily on one side, and some on the other. This difference is not obvious: one wouldn’t notice it until many years in the work. He describes this as his independent discovery of brain lateralization.

Fine differentiation is learned more easily on the right side (hence left hemisphere), and he connects this to the idea that all “learned purely human activities” are left-hemisphere activities.

The left side (hence right hemisphere) can be used in a different strategy–to “build up” the movement and its mental representation, Moshe says. And lists of lateralized function may place spatial manipulation in the right hemisphere.

The left side (right hemisphere) learns more quickly and efficiently from the right–I guess that it grasps the “gestalt” from the right and hence learns in a more holistic way the function that was learned more analytically on the right. It learns “greater fluency and ease”, which he connects specifically to how hard the first side worked to learn, but my sense is that he means also that, however “hard” each side works, the point is that they work differently. The eighth lesson in the book ATM discusses and demonstrates this idea (and indeed works on the right side first, and then the left side in imagination).

I’ve not paid attention much in the past when people talk about brain lateralization in relation to what we’re doing in Feldenkrais, partly because the very idea of localization in the brain is still so much in development, and subject to fundamental puzzles–and the lateralization area is subject to “just so” stories (a phrase usually used when talking about how evolutionary theory can make up a story to explain things whose real sources lie in social assumptions and biases). Simplified popularizations proliferate.

Even if I were to integrate more thinking about lateralization into how I think about the work, I am dubious about how Moshe layers his idea of “learned purely human activities” onto the science. I would assume that non-human animals are accomplishing things with their left hemispheres, and that there is distinctly human learning involving the right hemisphere (pragmatics, context, prosody–these are things the Wikipedia article assigns, with much hedging, to the right hemisphere). I’m agnostic at the moment about Moshe’s broader story about handedness/specialization of function by side/lateralization being distinctly human and essential for language.

I’m used to thinking about a distinction between standing / extension / transmission of force / balance (usually left side) and folding / fine manipulation (usually right side). This passage inspires me to think more about quality of movement and learning on each side, beyond the more narrow functions I’ve just described.

Dominant leg

A significant proportion of google hits on my site come from people looking to find out which is the dominant leg.

How people write and think about the dominant leg is fascinating. At one end, there’s a lot of “common sense” that is nonsense. Like the article summary on this website–your top google hit for “dominant leg.” At the other end, there’s recent scientific frameworks and data that are quite consistent with ideas that, for Feldenkrais practitioners, are as “common sense” as the idea that, in standing, one’s head is generally above one’s feet.

People’s “dominant leg” as the literature defines it is usually their right leg. It’s not related to left and right handedness. It’s also not their dominant leg for the reasons you think it is.

All over the web, people say “you take longer steps with your right leg, because it’s your stronger leg.” No one who thinks about movement or senses what goes on in themselves could think such a thing.

Is the strength of the right leg showing itself in how high you lift your knee? How wide an angle you can make as you open your knee joint to set foot on the ground again? As you step forward? Is that how you walk? Poppycock. The foot you step forward onto is the foot that’s in the air as you generate your step! What does its strength have to do with anything? If you step farther with your right leg, it would have to do with your left leg specializing in pushing off–in carrying force and transmitting it along the long axis of the leg, into a body that is accustomed to organizing itself around that secure balance and straight-forward push-off.

In Feldenkrais, we become extremely familiar through day-in day-out observation and practice with the way that we specialize: one leg, usually the left, for balance, and one leg, usually the right, for fine manipulation. That generally translates along the whole side of the body to a higher tonicity in the extensors (muscles opening the joints against gravity) on the left, and higher tonicity in the flexors (muscles of folding the joints) on the right.

This is our Feldenkraisian classification of flexors and extensors, by the way; I don’t think it’s the same as how the rest of the world thinks of it. Generally, one says flexors close joints and extensors open them. Not sure how that all spells out. I’ll think about that another day.

Get someone to photograph you lying flat on the floor; then draw a line along your nose and through the middle of your chin; continue down, and there’s the leg you like to stand on, and the other leg, probably lying out from the midline, and with the foot turned further out, is your “dominant” leg. And, by the way, are your fingers slightly more curled under on that side? Your knee or wrist slightly higher off the floor?

This stuff is in the research: google scholar it, and you see that bone mineral density is higher in the “non-dominant” leg, which specializes in balance and propulsion in walking; muscle mass is greater in the “dominant.” I haven’t seen this, but we’d predict that slow-twitch muscles fibers (postural) are more numerous on the “non-dominant” leg, and fast twitch on the “dominant”.

What I can’t do for you is confirm that people walk in circles in a way influenced by leg dominance when deprived of other sensory reference points. Someone finally tested this idea experimentally, and while we do walk in circles, and tighter ones that you’d expect, there is no consistent tendency to one direction or another. Jan Souman studied this. The graphics are lovely if you can see them (behind paywall?). Watch this NPR video from Robert Krulich, and listen to the interview with Jan Souman.

As a practitioner who thinks always of one leg, usually the left, as specializing in the fundamental job our legs have to do–accept our weight as we balance and move in gravity–I can’t convince myself to call that leg the “non-dominant” leg. But if you think that the main function of a leg is to kick a soccer ball, and the right leg has stronger muscles or better refined control with which to do that, then okay, call it dominant!

I like the way that Phil Wagner puts it on the Sparta Sport Science blog: “…the majority of studies support that your left leg is the side of choice for strength or balancing needs, whether it be the plant foot before kicking, the takeoff foot for jumping, or the front leg of a baseball swing to stop rotation. …Since this left leg is used for stability, the right leg supports more fine motor coordination, such as providing the right “touch” when striking a soccer ball. …There is no dominant leg, just preferred sequences and feet for your specific sport’s movements.”

On falling asleep in class

I’m reading a chapter of Body and Mature Behaviour, Moshe’s most scientific book, originally published by Routledge in 1949, reviewed at the time in the NEJM and the Quarterly Review of Biology.

I’m working through the chapter on Pavlovian conditioning (Chapter 6). It might seem that the process of conditioning a dog’s salivation is far from the kind of learning we do in Feldenkrais. Feldenkrais is about developing the capacity for a creative and attuned response to our environment, manifesting more clearly our intention, with elements of spontaneity and problem-solving, right? So what’s the path from reductionist behaviourism to what we do?

There’s a lot of thinking about this in what follows. This may invoke entirely different kinds of sleepiness in you. If you want to cut to the chase, get to the point, and experience a small epiphany about the relationship between doing Feldenkrais classes and feeling sleepy, click here.

In this chapter, Feldenkrais characterizes a reflex as a global response to a particular stimulus. He gives a familiar description of human perception and action from the behaviourists of his era: we experience an enormous range of sensory input, and respond to just a small select range of the stimuli we experience, and do so with only a limited range of reactions (cue the Quine, all you philosophers who inexplicably think he’s a brilliant and elegant writer, so would like to see his formulation of the point quoted here).

I’ve never bought this line–we have millions of nerve endings, and they fire or don’t fire, which already shrinks that supposedly rich input to a very thin gruel–unless the behaviourist is presupposing a great deal of what s/he claims to do without. If we think the stimuli coming in are infinitely rich (booming buzzing confusion, or vast array of heat and cold, hard and soft, smooth and rough, light and dark…much less anything richer than that), it’s because we presuppose a great deal of active synthesizing–or the whole actual richness of the world–or both. No matter–suffice to say that the world is full of lots of things, static and dynamic, and we react to a limited range of events around us, and each reaction, from some perspective or another, is one from a limited set of possible reactions, and a reaction of the whole person–or brain, or nervous system (three things, let’s leave it loose for now).

The idea that our range of our reactions is limited in comparison to the input is another one that only takes you as far as it takes you, by the way. What do you have to presuppose about human interests such that all instances of salivating are one and the same stereotyped reaction, and not a bunch of different individual instances, each as subtly differentiated from the others as from anything else, on a long continuum? How do you look at the immense range of things human beings do in reaction and relation to the world (music, art, dancing, painting, drawing, sculpture, science, worship, gossip, building, etc.) and claim that in comparison to the infinity of the world, the repertoire of human responses is limited? That’s not to say that assuming a limited set of responses (conditioned by the limited set of interests in the world that we presuppose–usually those relating to our understanding of biological function) is invalid, but transparency in our theorizing is a nice attribute.

This is something I don’t usually do, by the way–I take Feldenkrais experientially almost all the time, and don’t bother with applying philosophical analysis to his behaviourist and libertarian/individualist philosophy. You can get so much out of Feldenkrais without worrying about this. But then here’s the position I find myself in when I do engage more critically: since I reject his reductionism and his individualism, it looks to some like I present a stripped down version of the Method, one that is less ambitious in scope than what he claims for it. He claims it as a complete psychology. But he does so on the basis of a particular account of human psychology: a behaviourist one. So here I am, working inconclusively through my thoughts on this.

He wants to take the Pavlovian idea of conditioning existing responses to link them with new stimuli (from the food to the bell) as a model for learning in general, although on the face of it, there is a large gap between how unconditioned reflexes (blinking at the flash of a bright light, salivating on the sight/smell/taste of food) are harnessed as learned responses to new stimuli, and the development of voluntary action–which is where most of human learning and psychology lie. But for Feldenkrais this basic idea (of the conditioned response of the whole organism triggered by a single element in the environment) is his account of immature function, neuroticism, and general human eccentricity. It’s the place where his behaviourist psychology meets the more humanistic/new-age psychological idea that the wrong or neurotic or less than ideally productive response to a situation occurs because there’s some element in the situation that reminds us of e.g. some long-ago trauma, or our family of origin.

He doesn’t use the term ‘eccentricity’, by the way–he calls it ‘queerness’–long before queer theory or identity came along, of course, but it’s worth noting that this may all be heavily politically charged. Shall we start into a gender analysis of Moshe’s account of maturity vs. emotionality and human connection in community? Another day.

He has a neurological account of how this generalization only happens and/or matters when the situation is emotionally charged: if a stimulus and response are emotionally and relationally neutral, even if they are unpleasant or painful, nothing that distorts adjustment in the long run results. This is absolutely central to the debate in my head (and on Feldyforum) about more or less psychological interpretations of the Method, but I’m not going to focus on it right now. I’ll think about it some more another day.

Feldenkrais moves on in the chapter following this one (discussed here) to consider postural reflexes, which is a subset of human motor control and learning, and certainly a huge part of the Method–and in this chapter I’m now reading, one of the things he outlines is Pavlov’s toolbox for extinguishing or inhibiting habits, qua conditioning built on reflexes.

I think that the Method, like the Socratic one, needs to create a certain aporia in students–to rid us of our mistaken responses/ideas, so that new ones more intelligently attuned to intention and environment might emerge. So that’s how I’m reading this chapter–whether or not I buy the entire behaviourist and reductionist picture of human psychology, there is certainly a host of learning built on reflexes around managing ourselves in movement (as one of the four elements of action) in gravity, that Feldenkrais addresses, and in drawing on Pavlov, he’s developing an account of how to foster and inhibit particular responses to stimuli–particularly, how to inhibit. You can get a reasonable summary of these mechanisms on wikipedia’s article on (classical conditioning), or look up Pavlov’s Conditioned Reflexes itself on google books.

We’ll get to falling asleep in class soon. If you aren’t already asleep.

So in this chapter, Feldenkrais outlines how a conditioned response is set up, and how it is inhibited. There’s overlap here: a conditioned response is generalized and sloppy at first. The dog responds to any tone of bell, before figuring out which one is followed by food and refining his response to that particular one. I said ‘figuring out’, but this isn’t entirely about intellectual sloppiness: the excitement of neurons is messy in the brain, and all sorts of adjoining structures (not intellectually adjoining in the structure of ideas, but neurologically adjoining in the way that the genitals and toes happen to map next to one another in the sensory cortex etc.) get dragged into the action before the dog learns to inhibit the adjoining areas and have a more focussed response. So learning connections also involves differentiating and inhibiting (insert wisdom of the east, all action includes inaction, yin and yang, etc. here).

And how does unlearning a learned reaction happen? He talks about various mechanisms of inhibition. You can stop the dog salivating at the bell if you stop presenting the food after the bell. When you do that technique but with a trace reflex (a reflex that was conditioned with a long delay between stimulus and reward), you get the result that explains sleepiness in class.

(There’s a lot of other important discussion in this chapter about induction, and irradiation, and other mysteries of Feldenkrais, and I’m going to leave those to another day too.)

Cut to the chase: sleepiness in class

That’s all a long-winded way of getting to the topic so suggestively proposed in the title. What does this have to do with falling asleep in class?

Moshe talks about how, in learning a new habit a la Pavlov, the new habit is generalized first–the dog salivates at any pitch of bell it hears. But as the learning continues, the dog increasingly discriminates the details of the conditioned stimulus, and salivates only at the right pitch. And inhibition is the same, he says: when an animal is gradually inhibiting a response, particularly where that response is a trace reflex (relatively distant in time from the stimulus), there may be a stage of falling asleep, before the inhibition becomes more precise. The inhibition (like the excitation) is at first generalized–the whole system falls asleep–and later is more precise–the specific response that is being extinguished is inhibited.

So perhaps when a lesson is teaching you that you can (e.g.) lift your head without tightening your shoulders and neck and low back first to prepare, you may go through a stage when the inhibition you’re learning takes the form of a general drowsiness, or even sleep–before you refine that to the idea that it’s specifically your neck and shoulders and back extensors you can inhibit, when doing this particular action of raising your head.

Neat idea, I thought, when I read it!

Why lesson analysis?

The structure of the DIY ATM section of the website encourages you to try out Feldenkrais ATM lessons and to move very quickly into making them your own — trying out variations and relating them to different principles.

This is a good process, and yet there’s something more at work in a Feldenkrais ATM, beyond trying out variations on a theme. Those variations are in service of improving the integration of layers of reflex and conscious neuromuscular control into effective action, involving the whole person. So for my own study I’m working on getting deeper into Feldenkrais’s lessons and understanding the way their variations are structured around specific ideas about these layers of neurological control. The rotes of this process are below. Most of them are discussions of lessons posted or this site.

Pour ceux qui peuvent lire en français…

At , Yveline Cyazinski, a French psychoanalyst, philosopher (and poet), is engaged in a wonderful project of questioning Feldenkrais orthodoxy about the word (and analytic orthodoxy about the body). I often bemoan the Feldenkrais community’s opposition to an “analytic” approach because I believe thought and conceptualization have a role in learning and in the method–Yveline, if I understand it, is questioning the community’s opposition to an “analytic” approach in the sense that we deny that psychological, and linguistically-mediated, dynamics such as transference and countertransference play a role in the method–especially in Functional Integration.

In her first post on her blog, she writes:

Avec mes racines analytiques, et mon expérience en cours d’élève dans le champ de recherche empirique de l’éducation somatique de Feldenkrais, je voudrais montrer que l’opposition systématique entre une théorie analytique “dogmatique” excluant le corps, et une philosophie du corps excluant le langage, est une façon de résister à ce concept de “chair” défini par Merleau- Ponti….

Or, in my very poor translation: With my [psycho-]analytic roots, and my experience as a student in this form of empirical investigation that is Feldenkrais’s somatic education, I would like to demonstrate that the systematic opposition between a dogmatic analytic theory that excludes the body, and a philosophy of the body that excludes language, constitutes a way of resisting the concept of “flesh” defined by Merleau-Ponty…

My French is terribly rusty, so I may have misunderstood anything and everything, but I am giving it a try!

“How many ATMs are there?”

The question came up in class recently “How many ATMs are there?”

Ron suggested the answer “5,243”, which is as good an answer as any other!

From the beginning, I started taking notes on ATMs (Janet Alexander in Toronto) with an eye to “how these things work.” So at first I thought, okay, you do one side, then the other, then both. That’s how it works.

It didn’t take long for that theory to break down.

Then as the training began, I thought, okay, so you take a movement and do a thousand subtle variations of direction or intention. That’s how they work. And at that stage I tried to invent ATMs for myself on that pattern.

Nothing wrong with that pattern, and there’s a lot going on in the trainings that takes that form–I presume with the purpose that budding practitioners should notice and feel those subtle variations.

The Alexander Yanai lessons came on me like an enormous challenge to everything I thought I knew about ATMs. In every one of them there is some [set of] idea[s] going on that contains echoes and elements of all the techniques I could see in the work, and something more, something more global about complete actions.

I’ve enjoyed Advanced Trainings with Ellen Soloway, and with Jeremy Krauss (most recently this last weekend in Baltimore) that have given the time and space to explore these lessons, and the setting to do so on a fairly intellectual and analytic plane–refusing what some would like to have as a Feldenkrais orthodoxy “thought=bad, feeling=good”. Every occasion has helped develop my sense of the range of things going on in these lessons.

The other day–I was preparing some of the primary image/five cardinal lines/simpler lessons from 7B, and I noticed for the first time how far back the genesis is for how he approaches 338 and 339–with the movement of opposition in 333, he’s trying to get at something about the head/neck relationship, and the next 8 or so lessons are all like housekeeping to raise the level of awareness and sensitivity of the class so that what he was getting at in 333 becomes approachable.

So I set in the back of my mind a challenge: I started the October fingers-to-spine month with a lesson I put together, using one simple idea. And then I taught “by the book” two Alexander Yanai lessons–ones I am still in the process of figuring out. And then I wanted to teach a fourth lesson that came out of what I was seeing in the room and developed some more focused idea than just “trying variations.”

The first lesson is Clock Hands. Actually it’s two simple ideas–when you travel around a clock, methodically checking your self-image against an idea of an objective orientation to your movements in space, you create the conditions for yourself to find all sorts of hidden places and non-habitual movements. I list this under “activities” you can do with a lesson here. And the second idea is that of lengthening from the other end–so with each movement we lengthen ourselves by reaching with the fingers, then by reaching with the hip in the opposite direction, then back to the fingers. (I list this approach under “activities” here.)

I started this “invention,” by the way, with doing Vreni Booth’s lovely online sample lesson, and added the hip movements. (Her teaching of that lesson in itself, by the way, is a great example for me of how every simple lesson pattern is its own new lesson when taught by a particular teacher with a particular vision and style. That’s why the question of how many lessons invites a zen koan response!)

I watched this first lesson unfold, and I watched the students make their way through the AY lessons. And I thought about the specific anatomical and neurological challenges of the AY lessons, while not yet grasping them fully. And I came up with Lengthening and turning arms by the fingers, which gives me some satisfaction insofar as I feel like I got to a new level of integrating elements in creating a new lesson–I worked from what I was seeing in the room that the students might benefit from (shifting intention from core to fingertip, and exploring the rotation of the arms), that old pattern I first noted (the particular transformation to the subtle organization of the core that you get when you do the one side, the other, then both; the way that shift addresses old habits too), and then the particular aspect I’m most pleased with–out of the formulaic variations, I discovered in doing it myself some sense of it coming together into a direction or focus. It seemed to me that the extension of having the arms overhead, combined with lengthening the arms with their rotation, introduced a subtle rebalancing of the flexors and extensors, an appropriate tonification of the core muscles–engaging the extensors, but lengthened, not in an anxiety pattern. I taught the lesson, and sure enough one student stood up and said, “hey! my abdominals feel subtly readjusted, like they’re working now!” (Or something like that!)

Anyway, during this month, someone wrote a lovely post on Feldyforum about reading each lesson as a play–a drama, gathering plot, Act I, Act II, Act III (I can’t track it down now…apologies). This is an element of my puzzle about what is particularly characteristic of the AY lessons. I’m going to put that idea in the back of my mind and see if something emerges from having that thought present. No hurries. It might be another year or two.

I post this under my quasi-subversive “technology of the self” theme because I still nurture the thought that the DIY ATM section isn’t just about letting people do the recordings, but about people learning the Method as something they actively create, and that belongs to them. (Though I’m happy if you just do them too. Making the Method available to people who can’t find or afford a teacher is also a big motivation.)

Maybe this is nothing other than the way people learned it before we had so many materials (lessons) available as a “canon.” They did a lesson, wrote some notes, half remembered it, consciously or not picked up techniques, principles, and patterns, and when they taught or did the lesson for themselves, they created a new lesson by necessity, whether they thought they were doing so or not, because they didn’t have the “canon.” So it’s back to the future, in the sense that this subconscious creativity existed under the guise of a very guru-focused culture in our community. “We’re just doing what Moshe did–after all, he’s a genius and we should all be happy just to sit at his feet and imitate him.” As though he said “I’m your last teacher, because no one’s ever going to be as good as I am,” instead of “I’m your last teacher, because you’re going to learn to teach yourself.”

We have a “canon” now, and we can get stuck in it, in the style of philosophers who see everything a pale echo of Plato or Aristotle, or we can finally make our own active and creative processes conscious, and work on them. That’s what I’m trying to do by blogging about “creating a lesson” in a community where this kind of thing is often considered the height of hubris. (And at the same time we wonder why there is a crisis of confidence in our ability to do the hands-on FI work!) I don’t for a moment think these two lessons are as good as or better than Moshe’s, or that there’s any idea here that doesn’t fundamentally appear in existing lessons. In fact, one value in “inventing” a lesson could be that we would then give one another feedback on our lessons along those lines! I’d love to have some comments like that! Then we’d really start to learn something about what we’re doing.

In any case, it’s not in me to spend my life reciting another person’s words either–I tried that for my PhD and decided that being an So-and-So exegete is an odd life. So for better or worse, I make my way, and hope the community considers the benefit that could be gained if we worked in this way and shared our learning.