Thursday, 19 August 2010

Chickens home to roost

What could have bedraggled them so?
It happens all the time. I read something in the Internet about Conductive Education, or even on paper too sometimes (in so far as I see anything on paper nowadays). Then I start to smile, because I recognise my own (unackowledged) words – and I know what is coming next!

Here's one that Google Alerts dropped into my in-box today:

What is Conductive Education?
Conductive Education is an active learning process that helps children with Cerebral Palsy and adults that have suffered a stroke learn to overcome problems of movement resulting from disease or damage to the central nervous system. These programs are not new, they were developed in Hungary over 60 years ago and have only started to spread around the world in the last 15 years starting in England with the help of Princess Diana. Conductive Education is not a traditional treatment or therapy it approaches motor disorders as a problem of learning or relearning - a problem that will respond to the appropriate teaching. If they can move and they can learn, they can learn to move. By repeating tasks and integrating intentional movement with learning, the brain creates alternate pathways to send messages to muscle groups creating the desired movements, recovery and rehabilitation. The success achieved when a therapeutic approach is applied to all aspects of daily living not just to exercises done on a sporadic basis are undeniable and simply make sense.


The blue bits are substantially mine, from somewhere or other long ago, written for I recall not what purpose, then published I know not where (very likely on paper in those days!), but I do know my own words. I know that the red bits are not mine. most certainly not.

I have no objection whatsoever to people's using my words, for whatever purpose they wish. If this were done 'properly', however, it would refer to the words' source . Their readers could then have a better chance of judging the value of what they read (they might also note that these are rather old words).

The trouble is that people often do not do this 'properly'. They simply cut and paste bits that suit and print them as their own (technically plagiarism, or theft of intellectual property, not that I care). Then they patch in some other words, from other sources. Again, if this were done properly then these other words would also be granted a source – and again their readers would then have a better chance of judging their value.

Without this, the net result is a dog's breakfast (unpleasant but graphic British figure of speech, referring to something found on a pavement, or on your couch or carpet, being the half-digested, mixed up product of what the unfortunate animal had eaten earlier that day).

I do sincerely hope that, when I wrote the original, I did not begin 'cerebral palsy' with capital letters, and that I did not use the relative pronoun 'that' to refer to children and adults, and that such irritating little errors represent 'improvements' by later hands. If I did, then my humblest apologies to the style police. But I will swear in the highest court of justice in the land (well, to be honest, in court I always affirm) that I have never said or written:
  • CE was established in the UK with the help of Princess Diana.
  • If they [who?] can move and they can learn, they can learn to move.
  • By repeating tasks and integrating intentional movement with learning, the brain creates alternate pathways to send messages to muscle groups creating the desired movements, recovery and rehabilitation.
  • the success achieved when a therapeutic approach is applied to all aspects of daily living not just to exercises done on a sporadic basis are undeniable and simply make sense.
These latter points are just misinformation and/or gobbledegook.

What does any of this matter? The Internet is littered with such meaningless jumbles of half-digested something-or-other, some of it originally good stuff, some of it plain poison, scrambled together as explanations presumably considered good enough for Conductive Education. Result:
  • yet more parents are confused (and maybe bamboozled too)
  • more people paid to know better are also confused, or fastidiously avert their gaze. I don't blame them.
Nor do I blame the father who has published the above paragraph on his blog, or others like him who, in all good faith, pass such information on for yet others to add to with yet more cut and paste, chew it over and then regurgitate it in their turn.

He has had a good experience of Conductive Education and he wishes to rejoice in his unwonted good experience and encourage others to share in this. All strength to his arm, But Conductive Education has ill-served him, as it has ill-served and continues to ill-serve so many others, by not ensuring that he is better informed... and not policing some of the nonsense that fills the information vacuum.

2 comments:

  1. Therapy! Therapy! Therapy!
    Why, oh why, oh why are so many people convinced that "therapy" has the answers?

    Could it be that they asking the wrong questions?

    Rubbish in, rubbish out, as the (politer) computer geeks say.

    The right questions? Start with: upbringing, parenting, education, schooling, curriculum, pedagogy, professional training ....

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  2. I believe that for parents "therapy" means 'recovery", and the word in its deepest meaning meets their wish for their child healing or recovery. I also believe ,that meeting the medical professionals at the very beginning stage of their journey as parents of a child with cp, is in a way, like the "imprinting" described by Konrad Lorenz . It happens in a very critical stage and lasts for long (if not for ever). Thirdly, I believe that it is also a product of the higher status that people ascribe to the medical professions in comparison to education. Not surprisingly, many parents approach CE only after being "disappointed" from the "therapies" that did not meet their dream of "fixing" the child, or when they are at a stage that they do not perceive cp as a disease anymore , but as a condition, a state.

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