Tuesday, 20 July 2010

The Internet is a two-edged sword

Part of wider, deeper questions and tasks

From an anonymous blog by an enthusiastic young American Hungarophile, and would-be occupational therapist who has currently just started working as a volunteer at the Conductive Learning Center in Grand Rapids –

There's a place in Budapest called the PETO Instistute. It was founded by a man who survived a concentration camp in World War II, named Andras Peto who went about designing an incredible approach to best meet the needs and goals of children with Cerebral Palsy and spina bifida. It's best summarized as a very specific, pedagogical Occupational Therapy in a group setting. ..

Finding out

No doubt the people of Grand Rapids will soon straighten her out over specifics, and good luck to her in her enthusiasms and her life. The point at issue here is the process whereby she came to the understanding that she outlines above –

I learned all this simply from Googling Occupational Therapy and Hungary, and hopping around for a while.

Don't blame Google, or any specific search tool. It the 'wetware' the human component of this whole situation, the understandings of those who write the stuff searched and the search skills of those who seek to create understandings of their own.

This is a problem by no means unique to Conductive Education

How does Conductive Education protect itself from this process. In the example here, an answer could hardly be simpler. It requires no more than that people at the Conductive Learning Center being aware of the problem in general and of this specific individual example, then act to educate.

No doubt CEC can do this well – but how rare is such a personal opportunity for all those everywhere who are already or potentially misinformed.

And there have been examples enough, especially during the 'summer camp' season, where this opportunity is not taken up, where those who could contribute first hand to better understandings do not apparently recognise a problem, or do not regard this as their responsibility, or do not possess the correct information themselves, of make a mess of conveying it if they do.

And what does Conductive Education do for all those who take an interest around the world, and have no chance of a personal service...?  Now there's a question!

Innocence is bliss

...it's a GREAT place that empowers the kids to do everything they can do and socialize with each other. I love it! It's structured in such a way that challenges them, but wow, is there amazing support. Just being around other kids working on the same exercises definitely makes a difference, I think. It lets them continue to be kids. I've never thought of that before, how out of place a child might be in a room of adult therapists and parents who all might be as compassionate and warm as could be, but still, they're adults. And if a child is surrounded by adults directly tied to helping them with his or her disability, it further ostracizes them socially, I would imagine. But here, they giggle, they talk about different movies they've seen, what they have for lunch, and they're able to balance that somehow with awe-inspiring articulation of what is hurting them, and the logistics of how to put all their leg and back braces on. 
In short, they're kids who can relate to each other, be friends with each other, and shoulder each others' burdens. I'm amazed at how well they can already articulate their medical needs to each other and adults, and have been humbled countless times while they pleasantly teach me (and at times pull my leg!) about how to put their braces on, how far they can reach, which cane is theirs, and how best to help them in the bathroom. I've learned so much already, and I've only been twice! Socializing is definitely a big part of my heart in what I would want to enable and empower people with disabilities as an Occupational Therapist. Friends make a world of difference- this cannot be understated, even on a neurological level (very basically explained, brains release different balances of neurotransmitters when strong friendships are in place than in cases where there are no friends). A program that incorporates this vital dynamic into the physical strengthening is definitely a reason to get up early on Tuesdays and Thursdays!

Conductive Education does not exist in a social or conceptual vacuum. Wider, better awareness and understanding of Conductive Education comes up against already deeply embedded social and conceptual structures. Our anonymous blogger demonstrates both refreshing, innocent, human insight into the process and value of school-based Conductive Education and the awkward imposition upon her spontaneous pedagogic understanding of an existing, preferred biological way of thinking.

Those who form such human understandings for themselves have to maintain them, often in social and conceptual isolation. In this specific example, if I understand her blog correctly, they may have to survive professional training then practice as a therapist.

What can Conductive Education do to counter this process, not just for her but for all the enthusiastic innocents who come on board – not least new generations of young parents – and are then lost to the system? What future is there for Conductive Education if this cannot be achieved?


– (2010) Ants in the pants anticipation, dreamsinlila, 19 July

1 comment:

  1. Andrew,

    In answer to your question "What can Conductive Education do to counter this process..?"

    My immediate answer and probably the best I will come up with is:

    "Take the time to tell people what it is all about.

    It is worth it in the long run."