Saturday, 21 November 2009

CHINA

A reminder, a reprise and a reflection

Turn on the radio or the television, pick up a newspaper or a news magazine, and what do you read?

China.

Unstoppably booming economy, emerging world power, political and cultural confidence, etc., etc. An optimistic, determined and effective can-do approach to problems, of a kind not met universally nowadays in the West. And the contribution to all this of Chinese family structure, upbringing and attitudes towards education.

By 'China' here I mean not just the Chinese People's Republic ('the Mainland') but also Hong Kong SER, Taiwan, Singapore, and indeed the whole vast worldwide diaspora of Chinese residents overseas.

In just over a year's time Conductive Education will be showcasing in Hong Kong.

What does this mean over there, 'Conductive Education'? Who knows?

A recent reminder

Earlier this week, the Shanghai Daily published a heartening feature by Cushla Norman on the CereCare Wellness Center for Children, and its founder Lu Shunling. Lu herself has cerebral palsy. She devised her own approach to this. Then, drawing from traditional Chinese medicine and upon family resources, she and her younger sister, Iris Lieu, opened their own treatment centre, in which she combines her own approach with Conductive Education.
Lieu says CereCare is the only place in the world which combines her sister's acupressure and Conductive Education.
Conductive Education, which is done in a group, combines physical exercise with learning. Children learn about directions and colors as they are asked to stretch out their right hand to pick a purple flower, for example. Lieu says this method keeps class interesting for the children and takes their mind off any pain.
On Sunday the center turned six years old and waved off four of its graduates, celebrating the day with a party and fund-raising bazaar.
To graduate means [children] can now go to the toilet by themselves or they have turned seven years old  the school's cut-off point.
In China as everywhere else, this all costs money.

Lieu's dream is to raise enough money to expand the CereCare center and build a barrier-free school, for children from one to 18 years old.... but the fact is CP care is so expensive - 36,000 yuan (US$ 5,273) per child a year  that the final amount raised will probably cover three children's treatment for a year.

Sounds familiar enough, but is it? It is not the combination with acupressure that marks it as unfamiliar (indeed a good proportion of described Chinese Conductive Education programs seem to combine CE with something). The big question relates to the actual nature of the Conductive Education included in this mix. Where did it come from?What does it comprise?

A quick catch-up

For those who missed them first time round here are links to a few previous postings on matters Chinese, from earlier this year. It is hardly cononical but what else is there to start off on?

There are others.

What is actually done? It is to be hoped that the World Congress in Hong Kong to be held this December will cast light on this question (rather more that the World Congress held in Japan did to shed light on what has happened to CE in that country).

Where are we headed?

The title for the 7th World Conductive Education Congress to be held in December 2010 is 'East meets West: Adaptation and Development'. The tentative programme for the plenary sessions has now been announced. The first listed will be 'China's experiences of Conductive Education'. The concluding one will be 'Conductive Education in the 21st century'

Two features of Chinese history are its extraordinary duration and continuity. With virtually no account in the West of what might be happening with Conductive Education in China, the processes of adaptation and development appear already well established.

Perhaps a straw in the wind is that today, 21 November, is the final day of a two-week study tour of China for physiotherapists, to 'learn of acupuncture, massage, meditation and Conductive Education'. What will they have learned?

The balance of world power is changing in all sorts of ways, faster and further than one might have thought possible. Conductive Education is hardly notable for standing out against social and economic trends. The coming year will be an interesting one indeed when seen from the perspective of next December.

Reference

Norman, C. (2009) Sisters' dream school offers hope to cerebral palsy kids, Shanghai Daily, 18 November


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