Thursday, 7 October 2010

March of Dimes starts new program

Cowboys and farmers

A press release from March of Dimes Canada –

Conductive Education begins Early Intervention Program
Learning their way to independence

March of Dimes Canada’s Conductive Education® program launches an Early Intervention Program to help pre-school aged children improve mobility and self-confidence.

Great news, especially interesting because MOD's first interest in CE, back at the start of the nineties, was directed towards adults, a very unusual starting point, and has now spread down the developmental scale to reach the preschool, the opposite to what usually occurs when a CE organisation expands out from its original age-band.

So far so good (apart from that irritating little '®'). The next bit is OK too –

March of Dimes Canada’s Conductive Education® (CE) program is an innovative learning system—based on the principles of neuroplasticity— that merges elements of education with rehabilitation for people with neuromotor disabilities.  Conductors, or specially-trained educators, work with program participants to help them gain, or regain, physical mobility and self-sufficiency one small step at a time. CE operates on the premise that no matter how severe the disability, people can learn and improve when they are motivated. 

Well it would be OK, if it weren't for the appearance on the scene of some unlikely characters, the 'program participants'. The press release does not explain what sort(s) of preschool services will be offered, but whether the service welcomes babies, toddlers, kindergarteners mothers, fathers, this seems a rather strange way to be referring to them. But then I don't know the conventions of Canadian English.

Then the wobble sets in –

March of Dimes Canada’s Conductive Education® (CE) program is an innovative learning system – based on the principles of neuroplasticity – that merges elements of education with rehabilitation for people with neuromotor disabilities...

Innovative indeed. Maybe unique amongst learnings. I wish that I knew what these principles might be.

The Early Intervention Program aims to help students learn the skills knowledge associated with planning, problem-solving and motivation to maximize mobility and independence – one step at a time.  Students will also study literacy, math, science, fine art, physical activity and health and personal and social development – all within a caring and supportive classroom setting tailored to the unique needs of each child.

Are these little children (and maybe their mothers and fathers too) really 'students' in any real sense of the the word, and does the rest of the paragraph  really convey any meaningful essence of what they will be doing, and how? Again, I do not know how ordinary Canadians speak. What language is this? Management-speak. Daleck, Klingon?

MOD is a big organisation and presumably knows what it is doing, what works and what does not. The preschool groups are already full and MOD is recruiting to a waiting list. Good luck to everybody involved.

But if I were a journalist receiving such a release, what would I know from this of the amazing human stories of hope and joy, love and triumph, grit and tenacity, unfolding every day in the conductive preschool, just waiting to be tapped? If I were a politician, would I smell the whiff of potential popular demand, the anger of articulate voters, the urgent public cause waiting to be championed?

If I were a parent, what might I feel? Not. surely, the intoxication of new hope

But maybe MOD has other concerns.

Cowboys and farmers

I am by inclination a cowboy. MOD farms. Classic roles, classic differences in style. Both the cowboys and the farmers, the pioneers and the settlers, have essential parts to play in creating new countries out of virgin land. And as those who opened up the territory in the first place start to feel pressure from the arrival or the second there emerge classic differences and disagreements. The historical resolution is classic too. The cowboys either to have settle down and themselves become farmers, or move on, further west (or, according to where this is happening, further east, or south – somewhere, anywhere).

Maybe in Ontario is now ready for the farmers to start taking over. MOD presumably judges it to be and has already staked out its territory – and branded its property: '®' . Now it is marketing its products in ways that it judges suit those who control the market, in language deemed appropriate. If that involves neuro-babble and 'blobology', then perhaps so be it,: farmers have to spread all sorts of stuff (some merely maloderous, some actively toxic) to make their fields grow. I wouldn't do it, but maybe somebody has to at this stage.

One could drag the analogy further, not least into its long-term ecological dimension! Suffice it here to note that MOD is taking the public conversation on CE into a new dimension in the territory over which it holds sway. Just in time, you might say, or too late, or too early. Who yet knows?

As for the cowboys...? Go west, or east, or south, or somewhere.... Or settle down, and learn the language.


March of Dimes Canada (2010) Conductive Education begins Early Intervention Program (press release), 1 October

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