Wednesday, 23 May 2012

CALLING ALL AUSTRALIAN CONDUCTIVISTS

An offer you CANNOT refuse

I count myself fortunate up here in the Northern Hemisphere to be on Sue Reilly's mailing list from Australia. She and they do things rather more ruggedly than how we now do up here in matters to do with CE. This morning the following summons to action was awaiting me when I woke –
Hi all –
The following item, from yesterday's Australian newspaper, represents a potentially very significant opportunity for the development and funding of Conductive Education in this country.
As stated, there is now 'a unique opportunity for an overhaul of disability education' in Australia from the simultaneous policy reforms now being undertaken by the federal govt, both the NDIS and the Gonski education reform recommendations.
Those of us who advocate for CE are entirely aware that one of the reasons this approach works so well is because it is founded on a philosophy of high expectations, and that it is because we are up against a 'systemic culture of low expectations' that it has proved such a struggle to get anyone in authority to listen to us.
But thinking is now changing, and those of us who want CE to flourish in this country urgently need to work out ways to draw its existence to the attention of those in authority now looking at ways of funding more effective, outcomes-focused services for Australians with disabilities.
This is the item to which Sue refers –
Disability education overhaul
Natasha Robinson
A SYSTEMIC culture of low expectations means that for disabled children the nation's schools are just 'babysitting services', a high-level meeting of figures in education and social service has been told.

The author of the federal review of the nation's education system, David Gonski, and Labor senators Jan McLucas and Jacinta Collins met yesterday with disability advocates in Sydney.

The meeting, organised by the umbrella group Children with Disability Australia, was told that there was a unique opportunity for an overhaul of disability education that came with simultaneous policy reforms in the two areas being carried out by the federal government.

CDA executive officer Stephanie Gotlib told The Australian that children with a disability must be wholly included in the aspirational targets that are set down in the Gonski report.

Mr Gonski said in his report, handed down in February, that an extra $5 billion a year was needed above what was being spent by state and federal governments on education.

Mr Gonski proposed a new funding system for education on the basis of a baseline of funding for each student, which would be increased on the basis of factors including disability, Aboriginality and remoteness. 'I think funding is integral to many of the changes but I also think we have to do some work on addressing this culture of low expectations,' Ms Gotlib said.

'Mr Gonski spoke a lot about aspirations, and we need to make sure that those educational outcomes are very clear for students with disability.

'A common comment to us is that parents liken their child's educational experience to babysitting. We don't want babysitting, we don't want minding, and we don't just want personal care.

'There needs to be very clear educational outcomes where children with disabilities are enriched and extended academically throughout their education.'

Mr Gonski said yesterday that he believed the government was undertaking the work that his team had identified as being crucial in reforming disability education: gathering statistics on the numbers of children who suffered disabilities and how they were being supported.

'We concluded easily that the definitions of disability lacked logic, were not consistent and had no basic transparency, particularly in relation to how we approach them for funding for schooling,' Mr Gonski said.

Think big

Too true, Sue –
...one of the reasons this approach works so well is because it is founded on a philosophy of high expectations...
A vital reason for the indifference, misunderstanding and outright opposition that Conductive Education has met over the years, everywhere, is that it represents a whole new way of thinking about what is disability. And a central feature of this – what first brought it on to my own radar over thirty years ago and what has kindled the passion and enthusiasm of so many parents over the years since—is just this, that one should expect so much more. Or, as David Gonski presently expresses it in Australia –
A common comment to us is that parents liken their child's educational experience to babysitting. We don't want babysitting, we don't want minding, and we don't just want personal care.
It is only by confronting the big, strategic issues, like the transformability of human potential as a product of upbringing and education, and the transfer of physical disability out of the realm of medicine and health, that Conductive Education will break in from the fringes and achieve its deserved recognition *.

Come on you Aussies. Don't be bashful. In a situation such as David Gonski has opened up to you, established interests have by definition nothing useful to say – and everyone's voice counts as strongly as everyone else's. Speak up from the experiences of CE, advance its big messages. Seize the day.

Reference

Robinson, N .(2012) Disability education overhaul, The Australian, 22 May



*     Take just these two, the transformability of human potential as product of upbringing and education and transfer of physical disability out of medicine and health. Together they take you beyond the weak notion of 'support'. Advocate instead that disabled children need to be brought up, educated, taught, as do all other children – though not always necessarily in the same way. 

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