The Classroom According to Hunter

David L. Kirp, a UC Berkeley professor of public policy, is the author of "Learning by Heart: AIDS and Schoolchildren in America's Communities" (Rutgers University Press) and "Managing Educational Excellence" (Falmer Press).

ON A MILD spring morning in the hills above Santa Barbara, a hundred schoolteachers, principals and superintendents gather in uneasy democracy for a daylong workshop billed as “The Best of Madeline Hunter.” Each has paid $40, a bargain rate, to hear the most sought-after guru in American education.

At 8:30 on the dot, Hunter moves to the rostrum. She is a diminutive woman, perfectly coiffed and carefully lipsticked, who looks a decade younger than her 73 years. At the merest wave of her hand, bagels and coffee cups are put down; silence descends. It’s a show of quiet, almost priestly authority, familiar to generations of Hunter students.

“I used to think teachers were born, not made,” Hunter tells her audience, “but I know better now. I’ve seen bumblers turned into geniuses, while charismatic characters turned out happy illiterates.”


People in the audience are nodding in happy agreement. On this day, away from the persistent doubts and ambiguities of real classroom life, they are hoping for tangible solutions, answers to all the bad news about declining test scores, rising dropout rates, state-of-siege schoolyards, distrustful parents and fulminating politicians. None of that gloom intrudes on this room, though. Madeline Hunter is about to show off her teaching technology, and the Hunter method promises only good news.

“Education is at the breakthrough stage reached by medicine in another age,” she announces, “a time when scientists discovered it was germs and not evil spirits that caused trouble. We have identified the cause-and-effect relationships in education.

“By changing nothing but the ability of the teacher to teach, we can bring about a more dramatic change in the success of a child in learning than through the manipulation of any other factor.”

With just a handful of slides to illustrate her talk, Hunter settles down to business. “What’s the definition of an effective teacher?” she asks, and one teacher quickly responds: “Someone who is appropriately compensated for efforts and results.” That answer betrays a fa miliar teacher’s preoccupation, but it’s not the response Hunter wants. Pacing back and forth at the front of the room, she fishes for more. “I’d never ask this question of parents,” she coaxes, “because parents don’t have the sophistication.” That pat on the back encourages another teacher to volunteer a one-word reply, “Feelings.”

“Feelings are inferences,” Hunter snaps. Then she answers her own question. “It’s what a teacher does , not who she is or how she feels, that makes for effectiveness.”

What most educators mean by “doing Madeline Hunter” is using her seven-step approach to planning a lesson. In Santa Barbara, as in most of her road shows, several hours are devoted to spelling out this technique, which calls for specific acts of review, introduction, explanation, “modeling” (demonstrating), “dipsticking” (checking for understanding), “monitored practice” and independent study. Her system, says Hunter, simply combines positive reinforcement with what good teachers have always done.

Hunter disguises the simplicity of it all with her own lingo (“anticipatory set” equals review). She brings her message to life with illustrative asides (to explain the differences between students from advantaged and disadvantaged homes, she invents Poverty Johnny, whose mother tells him to shut up, and Affluent Johnny, whose mother delivers the same message in a few hundred multisyllabic Latinate words), and similes (“Monitored practice is critical, since new learning is easily damaged, like wet cement”). Along the way, she delivers the welcome promise: It’s easy to teach Hunter-style.

The afternoon session is devoted to another well-known Hunter technique: “disciplining with dignity"--an approach that rigorously deconstructs and organizes what she calls “skillful manipulation.” Like the seven steps, disciplining with dignity owes a great deal to behavioral-learning theories and notions of reinforcement. Teachers are told how to occupy teen-agers’ minds with “sponge activities” when they drift into their seats at the beginning of a class (for example, put on the blackboard a problem for students to answer before the bell rings) and how to get the attention of a dreamy-eyed student (“Use a student’s name. The one thing your brain cannot ignore is your own name”).

In the shiny world that Hunter presents, everything is reducible to formula. There are 15 ways to up the rate of learning, she announces, seven ways to increase students’ motivation, six attributes of an effective example, five characteristics of retention. Even the white lab coat she sometimes dons for lecturing conveys the unsubtle symbolism. Her method, Hunter says with perfect confidence, will work in all languages, for all subjects, for people of all ages and abilities.

The method has made Hunter famous and rich. She has been saying the same things in thousands of appearances for more than 20 years in every state and 50 countries, for fees as high as $5,000 a day. Through Special Purpose Films and T.I.P. Publications, a firm in which Hunter is a partner, she has produced 11 books such as “Teach More--Faster!” and 17 video collections that cost up to $3,750 a set. Another 20 tapes have been created under UCLA sponsorship. Hunter claims not to know how much these ventures bring in each year--"I just sign where the accountant tells me to,” she says. In a typical month last year, Hunter grossed, conservatively, $30,000.

According to Hunter, 16 state education departments--among them Pennsylvania, Michigan, Texas and South Carolina--have to some degree officially embraced her approach. And it’s hard to find a California school district, Hunter says, that has not run some of its teachers through Hunter-style training.

Instructor magazine, the teacher’s bible, calls Hunter as much of an American institution as IBM or Xerox, and Hunter herself declares, “I’ve spawned an industry.” Her way of teaching gets called many things: mastery teaching, target teaching, PET (Program for Effective Teaching). One waggish acolyte has repackaged it as the “Peanut Butter and Jelly Guide to Teaching.” Whatever name it goes by, though, it is probably the most widely adopted pedagogical method ever.

Most of the Santa Barbara crowd also loves the message, for the reasons that other crowds love Werner Erhard or Billy Graham or Leo Buscaglia. Hunter makes them proud to be professionals with a common set of skills and a common vocabulary. “It makes me feel good about myself,” one kindergarten teacher just back from pregnancy leave tells me, “because it reminds me that what I’m doing is really right.” A small-town superintendent declares, with the earnestness of an evangelist, “I wouldn’t want to say this publicly because it sounds gushy: Every Friday at the end of another week, we pray to Madeline Hunter.”

But one teacher, the first of many critics I encounter while inquiring about the Hunterization of American education, swears me to secrecy, then complains bitterly about the love fest.

“ ‘Madeline says, Madeline says,’ that’s all I hear. You’d think she was God. Her technique isn’t the whole answer--not by a long shot.”

TO MANY OF THE teachers at the Nottingham School, in the Los Angeles suburb of Norwalk, Madeline Hunter is God, or something close to it, and they are her disciples. For the last five years, the school has systematically trained teachers in Hunter’s way. When I visited last spring, there was a novice Hunter in almost every Nottingham classroom.

The kindergarten-through-seventh-grade school sits on the wrong side of the tracks in a wrong-side-of-the-tracks town. Some of the families have lived in the neighboring pastel boxes for two and three generations, and others have just come, mostly from Mexico; 89% of the students are Latino. The Saturday before my visit, there was yet another drive-by shooting: Bullets fired from passing cars, whistling like bird songs, felled a woman whose crime was being in the way.

But such irrationality and violence seem far removed as the second- and third-graders line up, eagerly waiting to get into Kim Norman’s classroom after recess. Although she is new to the craft, there’s no doubt Norman is in charge. She is adored as well. One boy rushes up and shyly hands her a piece of cake; others look ready at her command to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

“Good, you’re in control of your body,” Norman tells one student, positively reinforcing his good behavior. Then she says, “I’m waiting for a couple of pairs of eyes,” bringing the line of students to perfect order without embarrassing anyone. There is nothing of the stereotypical discipline battle--"Johnny, sit down this instant"--between teacher and student. Similar control is being exercised in a classroom down the hall by Norma Williamson, one of nearly half the Nottingham teachers who is bilingual. “ Ojos aqui! “ she commands, and heads swivel.

In Karen Dawson’s class of second- and third-graders, 20 children are sitting on the carpeted floor. Each has a small wooden board, piled high with loose beans and tubes of 10 beans called bean sticks. “Boys and girls,” Dawson announces, sounding like Mister Rogers, “we’re going to practice putting beans together. When you’re ready to go, put your hands on top of your head.” Forty hands shoot skyward.

The lesson is about adding tens, made concrete with the bean sticks, and ones, represented by the individual beans. Dawson proceeds according to pure Hunter technique, using the seven-step lesson plan with positive reinforcement for right answers and attentive behavior. Step one is a quick review; then comes step two, an account of what’s to come.

“Yesterday, we practiced trading beans for bean sticks,” Dawson says, “and today I’m going to trick you sometimes. Sometimes you’ll trade, sometimes not.”

Dawson calls out problems--"Build this number: 16,” then “Build nine"--and translates them into beans and bean sticks herself. These are the third and fourth steps, what Hunter calls explanation and “modeling,” with the teacher identifying the main concepts and demonstrating them.

After solving a few problems herself, Dawson asks the questions, then calls on students to check for their understanding. This is step five. Doing things this way rather than singling out a child before posing the question, Hunter says, means all the minds are in gear. If problems surface at this point, the lesson can be retaught.

Dawson walks among the youngsters, reviewing each student’s work individually. Most have it down pat, and the teacher says “great job” to Beatriz, Kimiko and Diana, naming them for praise as Hunter urges.

“How do we add three plus four?” she asks Josh, a shy boy who puts his hands together prayerfully. “Can you tell me the answer? Right, that is the answer. Now build six.”

This question-and-answer session is what used to be called recitation. Hunter labels it “monitored practice,” step six, with the teacher catechizing students on what they have been taught. The seventh step invites the youngsters to solve problems on their own.

The point of this math lesson is not to encourage creative thinking. Dawson never asks the students how they got from nine plus six to one bean stick and five beans. Nor does she invite students to see that the beans could represent pennies at the store or miles traveled in the family car. Instead, this lesson seems designed only to elicit the right answer.

Even with third-graders, a lesson sometimes has to get beyond nine plus six. Hunter recognizes this. In her writing and her talks to educators, she ranges over concepts as esoteric as meta-cognition--thinking about thinking--the question, “How did you figure that out?” that went unposed in Dawson’s class. But during my days watching Hunter-trained teachers at Nottingham and three other schools, Hunter’s followers mostly stuck close to the simplest versions of the seven steps and disciplining with dignity. The Hunter precepts were applied mostly to keep order, as in Norman’s lineup after recess, and to drill material into students, as in Dawson’s math class.

Glynnis Jachimski, who trained Kim Norman and Karen Dawson, has been a Hunter disciple since she attended one of Hunter’s UCLA classes in 1971. At Nottingham, she is the keeper of the flame, tutoring teachers in Hunter’s way and monitoring their practice. She lauds what the program has achieved at Nottingham both in terms of control, attentiveness and right answers and in terms of analysis, application and creativity.

“Before (the program went into effect), I couldn’t walk in the halls,” Jachimski says. “But those kids who began the program as first-graders are now in seventh grade. They respond well to reinforcement. If you speak the right language, they know what to do.”

In Jachimski’s office, festooned with posters sloganizing Hunter’s ideas, she and a first-year teacher review a videotape of a lesson on advertising techniques. This is perhaps the ultimate example of monitored practice, in which teacher becomes student, and Jachimski’s coaching emphasizes techniques of reinforcement: praise for doing it right, constant underlining of the correct moves.

Such encouragement is essential to Hunter’s agenda. If her approach is going to take hold, she says, it needs to be reinforced regularly until it becomes almost as automatic as breathing. Indeed, if Hunter had her way, there would be anticipatory sets and reinforcement and checking for understanding right up the ladder to meetings in the superintendent’s office.

Everything Jachimski says about this teacher’s lesson comes straight from Hunter. “Let me ask you: Was that your anticipatory set?” “You’re constantly monitoring. That’s a powerful piece of motivation. Good for you. Madeline says. . . .”

The Nottingham teachers I talk with after school have only good things to report about their experience. Four are new to the profession; two came to Norwalk specifically for Hunter training. They all believe the approach works wonders. “I really knew nothing about teaching before I came here. All I got in college was theory,” Norman says. “I don’t know how any of us would survive without Madeline Hunter. She gives me a way to organize a classroom, to keep things under control.”

LISTENING TO Madeline Hunter talk in her clipped and logical way, not just about her theories but also about things as diverse as training her dog and raising two children, it seems that everything in her life has always been under control. She wanted to be a psychologist by the time she was 12 years old, even before she could spell the word, she says, because her seventh-grade class in Los Angeles was taught by “a fantastic teacher--and a psychologist.”

When she enrolled in UCLA in 1933, she studied psychology and education. As an undergraduate, Hunter was focused enough to take a job with a diagnostic psychologist, even though it wasn’t ideal. “I ended up doing most of the work while she collected all the fees, but I didn’t care. She was grooming me for a career. . . .

“I was trained impeccably at UCLA--I had the giants of the time (mostly behaviorists) training me,” Hunter recalls. Focusing on her professors’ research about how and why humans learn, she would later make it her goal to translate the scientific findings into language accessible to teachers.

Her take-charge attitude didn’t fit very well with her first job, working with dying children at Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles. So she switched to Juvenile Hall--"at least what those kids had was curable"--and a few years later became a school psychologist. “I figured that the best way to combat delinquency was to be at the preventive rather than the remedial end of things.”

During the 13 years Hunter spent in public schools from Watts to Bel-Air, first as a psychologist and later as a principal, she worked with teachers, fashioning the learning theory she had encountered at UCLA into the beginnings of her method. In 1963, while at UCLA on a year’s research leave from the Los Angeles Unified School District, Hunter spent some time at the University Elementary School. John Goodlad, an internationally renowned scholar who had just been brought to UCLA as the school director, asked her what she thought of the place. “The teachers in this school don’t understand teaching,” she said. “Can you turn it around?” Hunter recalls Goodlad asking, and she was hired as principal, second in command.

The 108-year-old University Elementary School had championed progressive education since John Dewey’s day. But progressivism--student-centered, humanistically oriented, inquiry-driven--had become passe in American schooling, and the school had lost its direction. When Goodlad was brought in, the intention was to turn the school into a laboratory where UCLA education professors could try out and evaluate their new ideas.

For a few years, Hunter’s ideas were among those put into practice. Then, in 1967, Goodlad became the dean of the Education School in addition to director at UES, and the school became Hunter’s private garden, a place devoted to nurturing her theories. “You didn’t exactly talk back to her,” remembers one longtime teacher there, and no one from all her years running the school can recall when Hunter didn’t think she had the answer.

“At UES, we identified the nutrients required for a successful school situation,” Hunter says. “We showed teachers what those learning nutrients are, how to put everything together in a nourishing meal. We made darned good cooks out of some. Just as research has identified protein’s role in the growth of muscles and bone, we identified basic principles that affect learning.”

As word of developments at UES spread during the 1960s, busloads of visitors--1,600 a year, she says--came to observe this method of instruction that linked behaviorism and learning theories with classroom practice. In 1967, her first book for teachers, on reinforcement theory, was published, and her national career was launched. She became a fixture at every convention of the Assn. for Supervision and Curriculum Development, where valuable contacts are made, and, with half a dozen of her teachers (including her son, Rob, now a principal in Simi Valley), she began consulting nationwide.

In 1982, Hunter left the UES principal’s job. She was given a new faculty title, adjunct professor, a position that’s several rungs below regular professor on the academic ladder. To hear her tell it, her departure was entirely voluntary: “Twenty years was enough. And I wanted more freedom; that’s a 6 a.m.-to-midnight job.” Goodlad, who now teaches at the University of Washington, is circumspect about the change at UES: He retreats to generalities about “sensitive stuff” and “internal personnel problems” to describe her leaving but notes that Hunter’s way had become “a kind of religion.” Dick Williams, a UCLA professor who headed the school for the last six years, is more blunt: Hunter was forced out by Goodlad, who thought she was spending too much time promoting her theory on the lecture circuit at the expense of running the school.

“Only Madeline Hunter’s way went at UES,” Williams says. “She got in trouble with professors who were pushing methods that were less frontal, less dictatorial. People began to see her approach as just basic training.” And basic training, he says, just wasn’t enough.

IF YOU WANT to start an argument, walk into the teachers’ lounge in almost any public school in the country and ask about Madeline Hunter. There are dissidents in the trenches along with the true believers.

Karen Lee was president of the UES parent-teacher association when Hunter hired her as a teacher 15 years ago. “What Madeline Hunter offered wasn’t a philosophy of education but a set of management tools, a way of getting the class under control. We got the seven steps, got an analysis of how efficiently we taught. There were demonstrable, pragmatic ideas, but it became tunnel vision.”

Like Lee, many teachers are shrewd pickers and choosers who look to Hunter and other sources for activities they can shape to their purposes. They say that Hunter has some good things to offer, even as they politely ignore those parts of the seven-step method that prove to be more of a nuisance than useful. Grace Methvyn, a sixth-grade teacher at Napa’s Shearer School, once immersed in Hunter’s way, has whittled it down to what she thinks works best: “Just the discipline.”

The problem, say more adamant critics, involves systems that oblige them “to do the Madeline Hunter tap dance.” In “Tales Out of School,” a book describing his years as a teacher, Patrick Welsh tells how he bristled when the assistant principal introduced the Hunter approach. “Why should I be forced to go through a set of prescribed mechanistic procedures to satisfy the school system’s need to document its seriousness about improving teaching?” Welsh asked. Another teacher from Shearer School makes the point more colloquially: “I don’t want to become one of the Stepford wives.”

But the Hunter way offers such a tidily designed teaching model against which to evaluate performance that it can be hard for administrators in particular to resist. Hunterism has become a fetish for these officials. At a Pennsylvania training session, some teachers sported T-shirts saying, “I’ve Been Hunterized,” the message not intended as a compliment, even as administrators wore buttons reading “BAA,” for Born-Again Administrator. “I don’t think Hunter’s techniques can be overused,” says Ray Tolcacher, past president of the Assn. of California School Administrators and now school superintendent in the Northern California town of Windsor. “Use it, and you don’t go wrong.”

What about teachers with their own ideas? “There’s no room anymore for teachers who go their own way.”

Consider Texas. There, it’s commonplace for principals to walk into classrooms with “Hunter’s Seven Essential Elements of Teaching” in hand, announcing, “I want to see Madeline Hunter in my classrooms.” A phys ed teacher in one Texas school district reportedly received an “unsatisfactory” evaluation because she didn’t use all of Madeline Hunter’s seven steps to teach her students how to play volleyball. “To do well in Texas,” says Linda Bridges, who heads the teachers’ union in Corpus Christi, where too-rigid Hunterization has been the subject of intense negotiations between union and administration, “you’ve got to step with Madeline.”

All this makes Hunter very miserable. “The only thing Madeline says teachers have to do is to think,” she tells the educators who have congregated at the Santa Barbara workshop. “The seven steps are really seven decisions.” Yet Hunter also informs them that life in classrooms can become “almost as automatic as driving on a busy highway, which is also a complex set of learned decision skills.”

It’s not only teachers with their own sense of craft who criticize Hunter. The academic underpinnings of the method are coming under attack. One of her defenders, State University of New York-Buffalo education professor Ron Gentile, has cast the dispute in doggerel form: “By schools Hunter’s model is wanted/Though Profs of Ed are much affronted./She’s receiving top billing/And making a killing/Which makes this great Hunter the Hunted.”

“She wraps the mantle of academic research around her credibility,” UCLA’s Dick Williams says, referring to the fact that her writing is mostly self-published and hasn’t had to withstand the academic test of peer review.

In addition, much current psychological research on thinking regards the most productive teaching not as top-down, with the instructor as all-knowing, says Stanford University’s Jim Greeno, one of the pioneers in the field. The newer view of cognition, called constructivism, sees learning as a collaborative venture, with teachers and students together making sense of the materials at hand, building on the intuitions and experiences that students bring to the enterprise. Educators have translated these psychological insights into a pedagogy called “cooperative learning.”

Cooperative learning has no real place in Hunter’s pedagogy, at least as the seven-step plan is usually applied. During the Santa Barbara workshop, Hunter derides it as “pooled ignorance” and dismisses intuition as “sterile--it cannot be reproduced.”

“If you’re trying to get students to internalize, retain and report on skills, to acquire knowledge, Madeline’s technique works. But I want students to reason into the unknown, to be able to cope with ambiguity,” says Art Costa, who teaches at Cal State Sacramento and who promotes his more inquiry-driven way of teaching. If Costa were trying to teach students about the properties of a rock, he would likely set one on his desk, asking students to puzzle out the properties for themselves. By contrast, Hunterized teachers would explain the properties and hope to hear the right answers when checking for comprehension. “A Madeline Hunter lesson ends with closure,” Costa adds. “My goal is creating wonder in students, not summarizing what they know.”

“The believers think she’s got the answers--and she doesn’t because there’s just no formula for getting it in your soul,” adds Bill Honig, California superintendent of public instruction. Honig wants children to read literature, not Dick and Jane with its controlled run-and-jump vocabulary, and to think creatively about math rather than memorizing formulas. “Maybe you can teach facts with Hunter’s approach, but you can’t teach ‘What’s democracy?’ ”

One of Hunter’s proudest boasts is that her way of teaching does produce results. In her Santa Barbara workshop, she speaks of how she turned around the inner-city Alta Loma School in Los Angeles--"a metamorphosis in three weeks"--and later she tells how the faithful application of her method at Nottingham turned a “swamp” into an enclave of excellence. “You can check it out,” she declares.

But the sad news--the astonishing news--is that neither at Alta Loma nor Nottingham nor at any of the schools where Hunter’s approach has been implemented is there any evidence that the Hunter method boosts achievement.

During the five years that the Nottingham School was a laboratory for Hunterism, scores actually dropped on the CAP exams, the statewide achievement tests in reading and math. Four out of five California schools with similar demographic profiles did better on the CAP test. Achievement scores were also higher at nearby Norwalk elementary schools with a similar demographic mix but no special instructional approach in place. Indeed, those data, coupled with mounting parent resentment at the rapid teacher turnover, prompted Norwalk officials to abandon the program this year.

The story from the Alta Loma School also raises questions about Hunterization. Hunter cites a study done there by her UCLA colleague, Rodney Skager, to bolster her claim of a major turnaround in achievement scores in the inner-city elementary school. Skager reports a very different version: “Madeline has a total fantasy about a so-called study of something that happened nearly 20 years ago. Sure, achievement went up, but lots of things happened at the same time. Madeline brought in her new way of teaching, students departed in droves, millions of federal dollars were poured into the place. There was no scientific way to separate out those factors.

“Is Madeline really still telling that story?” Skager asks wonderingly. “She really is a true believer!”

The results of a more elaborate four-year investigation of the Shearer School give small comfort to Hunter supporters. The study, by Jane Stallings at Vanderbilt University, found that there were some achievement gains in the first two years that disappeared in the third year, and achievement scores actually dropped in the final year.

Nonetheless, reports Robert Slavin, who heads the Center for Research on Elementary and Middle Schools at Johns Hopkins University, “Hunter cites the study as proof of the value of her approach.” On the contrary, Slavin concludes that “the results of all the research offer little hope that the Hunter approach will produce any improvement in student achievement.”

Despite its critics, the method seems not to have lost its appeal. When South Carolina adopted Hunter’s approach as its classroom orthodoxy, 300 trainers were churned out in a weekend and then sent to schools in 87 of the state’s 91 districts. Teachers were enthusiastic. Yet three years later, in 1988, a study conducted by a University of South Carolina researcher found no gains in student achievement--indeed, in some schools, students did slightly worse.

Still, South Carolina has continued to train the rest of its teachers in the Hunter method--in effect, ignoring the university study. Says Jerry Corley, the state’s PET director until a few months ago: “We don’t have hard data yet. But the teachers love it, and the students love it. Without a doubt, we’re happy with it. I don’t know any program that could persist like it has and still be enthusiastically embraced.”

WHAT’S WRONG With Madeline Hunter?” a 1985 article in the journal Educational Leadership provocatively inquires. Its author turns out to be Hunter herself, and--no surprise--it delivers a ringing defense.

“My clinical theory of instruction is based on the premise that the teacher is a decision maker,” she writes. “My purpose is to tell teachers what to consider” when proceeding in the classroom, based on “psychological research.” It’s the “myths,” she adds, that cause problems--the myth that the model is rigid, the myth that there is no research to support the model, the myth that the model applies only to elementary teaching.

“The model undergirds the decision made in every mode of teaching,” Hunter claims, and--the magic bullet again--it “applies to every human interaction that is conducted for the purpose of learning.” When her back is against the wall, Hunter recites the litany of her method’s benefits, its applications, its results. I’ve covered everything, she says--remember those 15 ways to speed up learning?--and if you’ve missed it, you must have been napping.

Education, like fashion, is powered by fads. New ideas sweep the field, then disappoint or bore the practitioners and are replaced with the latest new ideas. Seldom does one change build on what’s gone before. The cycle eventually repeats itself: As the miniskirt comes back, so, too, does the open classroom.

Yet for more than a generation, Hunter has carried on, seemingly as imperturbable as Gibraltar when it comes to criticism or new ideas. The day after her talk in Santa Barbara, which was followed by hours of conversation at dinner and afterward, she presents another full-day session in Ventura. She tells some of the same anecdotes in the same words; yet despite her confessed boredom with the ceaseless repetition, she contrives to make it all sound fresh--and she succeeds.

Hunterization seems likely to outlive its namesake; all those Hunter acolytes, decades’ worth of Glynnis Jachimskis, will carry the torch. This summer, in addition to her regular teaching and special appearances, Hunter has been teaching a refresher course at UCLA for 30 trainers from across the country.

“Models are judged on their ability to guide behavior, predict outcomes and stimulate research,” she has written. There’s no doubt that her own model has guided behavior--just ask all those Hunter-trained teachers and administrators--but neither the research nor, more important, the positive outcome is in hand.

“Is There Life After Madeline Hunter?” reads a T-shirt worn by a teacher at a Hunter workshop. When asked about that, Hunter replies without hesitating: “In my next incarnation, I’m going to need only three hours of sleep a night.”